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Special Use Permit OK’d for Tree Farm in Southeast

By Holly Crocco

The Southeast Town Board on May 9 unanimously approved a special use permit for Arborcreek Farms LLC to establish a nursery/tree farm on Route 22, granting access to an easement across Holly Stream – much to the concern of some neighbors.

Arborcreek Farms is proposing to operate a commercial nursery stock growing field for trees and shrubs on a 9.87-acre property at 400-410 Route 22, disturbing a total of 3 acres. According to the application, the trees will be planted, maintained, and harvested for the farm’s own use in its landscape contracting business. Hours of operation will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

When approving the special use permit, the town board determined that “the claim of neighboring property owners that the development of portions of the subject premises as a nursery/tree farm will result in diminution of value of neighboring properties is purely speculative and without any factual report;” and that “the proposed use is in a location and is a size and character that it will be in harmony with the appropriate and orderly development of the surrounding district and will not be a detriment to the immediate site or adjacent properties.”

The board also determined that the location, size and operations will be such that both pedestrian and vehicular traffic to and from the site will not be hazardous.

The property is bisected by Holly Stream, which is regulated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and contains regulated wetlands. According to the application, all proposed activity of the tree farm is outside the wetlands and buffer areas. Still, the proposal now needs to go back before the planning board for wetlands approvals and final site plan approval.

One area of great concern for neighbors has been the use of an easement on Guinea Road.

While the original recommendation from the planning board was made on the condition that primary access to the site be from Route 22, with access from Guinea Road limited to incidental maintenance and emergency vehicles, the special use permit that was approved May 9 seems to broaden that scope of use.

“While it is not within the town board’s authority to prohibit the use by the applicant of the deeded easement for ingress and egress to Guinea Road over adjacent land owned by others, the general use of such easement in the operation of the nursey/tree farm should be discouraged and limited to use by the applicant, its employees and agents, and not for use of or by the general public,” states the resolution.

“Therefore, in its further review of the site plan, the planning board should consider requiring the installation of a gate or barrier at the location that the easement/right of way meets the subject premises to discourage the causal use of the easement from the Guinea Road access,” in continues.

Doloros Gallo of Guinea Road accused the board of “not really listening to the people of the town who pay the taxes here, who asked you kindly not allow people to go – businesses to go – through the easement on my property.”

Katie Faivre, also of Guinea Road, had similar comments. “I appreciate, in regard to the use of easement, that it should be discouraged,” she said. “This has been a particular area of interest and concern.”

However, she questioned why the approval expanded the use of the easement to allow “the applicant, his employees and his agents” to access it, when the original request was only for emergency purposes.

“I have no idea why you expanded the use of that easement when nobody asked you to,” she said. “The whole process really has not made a lot of sense. There has been discrepancies in the plan and in the process, and confusion in terms of information at the planning board level before it got to you guys.”

The special use permit also outlines that rock crushing and windmill operations are prohibited, on-site storage of compost is limited, and that no retail sales will take place at the location, since it is a wholesale facility.

Stefan Karlson of Arborcreek Farms thanked the board for approving the special use permit. “I appreciate your confidence in our application and moving us forward,” he said.


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