By Holly Crocco
Members of the Patterson community are wondering if the long-ago-approved Ice Pond Estates is ever going to come to fruition.
A public hearing was held during the May 24 Patterson Town Board meeting regarding the creation of a drainage district for the subdivision, during which Town Supervisor Richard Williams explained that the 25-lot subdivision on about 150 acres was approved by the Patterson Planning Board many years ago.
“I think the Planning Board has said, pretty much, ‘Enough is enough – if you’re going to build it, build it. If not, move on,’” he said.
“From the Town Board’s point-of-view, one of the things we have to do is create this drainage district,” continued Williams. “So, we’re doing the public hearing, taking the steps toward that goal of finishing this up, but we’re going to have to stop right here until they get other things done. But the bottom line here is, either they have to build it, or they have to stop, because we’re not going to keep extending it.”
According to Williams, the creation of a taxable drainage district ensures that drainage improvements and maintenance thereof will be the responsibility of the homeowners of the subdivision who benefit from them, and not the overall taxpayers of the town.
“It’s an administrative entity within the Town of Patterson,” he said. “We have a number of different drainage districts and what the Ice Pond subdivision is going to do, is they are going to create a series of catch basins and pipes that are going to collect all the drainage coming off the new subdivision roads and move it over to some smaller ponds that are going to need periodic maintenance.”
The town will be performing the work, and then essentially levy a tax to those property owners for reimbursement.
“The estimated tax is about $250 a year,” said Williams. That total is based on current studies and plans. “But, I’ll tell you this right now, we have three or for other drainage districts and it isn’t costing anywhere near that,” he said. “For the other drainage districts, we’ve been able to reduce the costs as it goes forward.”
The supervisor said the creation of a drainage district will not impact wells or water quality in the area.
When asked about the amount of garbage being dumped in the area, Williams said the subdivision may actually help the situation.
“One of the reasons you have a problem with people dumping garbage along Ice Pond Road is it’s a very rural area, development out there is very sparce, you’ve got a lot of distance between your neighbors, and a lot of open land out there,” he said. “The residential subdivision, with more people out there, you’re going to have more eyes, so the likelihood of people duping out there is going to decrease. The downside, of course, is you lose the forested areas.”
There are no plans to include existing residents in the area in the new drainage district for the subdivision.
Tamara Tripp of Ice Pond Road expressed disappointment in seeing the Ice Pond basin developed.
“I do think it’s a continued disappointment that this community wants to continue to develop,” she said. “I understand this person bought this property. You all approved it 10-plus years ago. But it is essentially destroying a huge portion of undeveloped, really wonderful ecosystem that is there right now. I also think it is going to ultimately drive down the prices of houses on the roads nearby. I think there’s going to be increased traffic. To me it’s enough of a disaster to make me want to sell my house and leave.”
Councilman Shaw Rogan said that while he doesn’t like to see nature disrupted, people do have a right to develop their properties.
“I think, philosophically, a lot of us agree with the sentiments you express,” he told residents. “But when you zone property for a use – and this has been residential property for years – you have an expectation that the people that own that property are going to want to use it for what you said that it’s zoned for… It would be no different than when your house was built – someone had that property zoned and there were people before that that probably lived there that didn’t want to see the houses developed, but that happens.”
However, Rogan said residents can take comfort in knowing that development includes many land protections these days.
“What we have now that we didn’t have 30 years ago is we have now put value on open space and on conservation, and that’s something that we didn’t have as a tool many years ago,” he said. “Now, people are willing to put money toward conservation easements and preserving open space.”
For example, a developer could have put 75 units on that land 20 years ago, but now, because of open space requirements, only 25 units have been approved for the subdivision.
“The Town of Patterson is now the only municipality in the State of New York that has a mandatory cluster provision within our subdivision code,” he said. “Anywhere else, it’s kind of an option that the developer can follow, but here in Patterson, we make them set aside a certain portion of land.”