Apple Ridge Development
More Questions, And Some Answers
By Edie Johnson
As the public filled New Windsor Town Hall for the latest of about a dozen presentations that have been made for this proposal over the span of about 11 years, they were clearly eager to have remaining issues resolved on this 172-home large-scale cluster development on over 400 acres of apple orchards that trace back deep into the area’s history. Progress on troublesome details has been slow but steady. Developer Roger Mumford has met not only with the planning board and their engineers many times, but also with residents. He has provided examples of other similar and successful developments he has done in Goshen and others in New Jersey.
As for the issues most needing to be addressed, the site on New Windsor property but bordering the Village of Washingtonville already has traffic issues as travelers merge toward Washingtonville. Two complications fall into the mix with a major Washingtonville soccer field directly across on Shaw Road that already has about 150 vehicles coming in and out during weekend games, and even more for tournament games. With an expected estimate of 172 vehicles per hour during peak times at the entrance of the proposed development, how can the traffic coming and going from the soccer fields on weekends be mitigated? Soccer enthusiasts are also concerned about two of their fields that sometimes already hold too much water for play. Washingtonville Mayor Joe Bucco emphasized that most of these residents in the development will eventually be heading toward Washingtonville’s stores and shopping plaza. They will likely also be attending village schools. He quipped “We love having the children, but not the traffic.”
Most residents know that this development will eventually happen. And given other alternative developments that the site could be used for, they are not in opposition to it. They simply want their questions answered and property protected. With the New Windsor Planning Board taking the extra step to verbally respond to most questions, a mood of slow but definite progress prevailed. Questions and responses will be detailed in writing as well, and the associated maps and plans as well as results of previous meetings can be seen at New Windsor Town Hall.
Because the water flows along soils that at the west end are rich in clay there are places that erratically flood, or marginally flood. Yet some residents still worry both about continuing to have sufficient water given the large amount that will be used for housing, storage and sewer treatment. Blooming Grove has their highly respected hydrogeology team watching closely.
Both the planning board and row of applicants’ experts listened intently, kept records of every question, and gave detailed responses to many of the questions by the end of the hearing. Steve Esposito, whose engineering firm is overseeing much of the design and studies, assured residents that they are not permitted to allow runoff onto adjacent properties. A holding pond and drainage mechanisms will have to keep all water onsite, with the exception of discharge from the sewer plant. Esposito and his team described the complex sewage treatment system they plan, one in which the effluent water is treated multiple times, in closed tanks, run through a fine membrane, and put under negative pressure as well as run through air vacuums to assure any odors are eliminated before discharging into an intermittent creek. The lengthy treatment process, he said, is precisely to protect the intermittent stream (which would continue to function as a natural filter if necessary for the 3 miles it travels before reaching the Moodna Creek). Treated effluent, Esposito said, is usually restricted to a final measure of 30 parts per million of biological oxygen. This system will limit biological oxygen to 5 parts per million. In essence, they said, the water will be cleaner going out than it was coming in.
Still, residents worried about their water, especially since the site will also have two enormous water holding tanks, in case water is ever needed for fire fighting. Esposito described a complex and long-term bonding process they have devised to protect theirs and their neighbors’ supply. In addition to having done the most stringent well tests while monitoring that of neighbors, they will post a stiff Performance Bond. Not only will they post a bond that ensures neighbors’ water will not be negatively affected, they will completely redo all of the well tests after Phase II of the project is complete.`
The Performance Bond will be posted before a single shovel hits the ground. It will include promises of any necessary “precise mitigating responses”.
Questions also remain about the disposition of the large amount of open space (predicted at 80% of the 400-plus acres). Will it be protected by easements, other land trust protections, or will part or all of it be added to some of the lots as some previous presentations suggested?
A promise was even made in response to one homeowner’s concern of light glare from the expected entrance which is across from his home, that buffer trees will be planted. And Planning Chair Genario Argenio assured the public that every question would receive a response before any approvals are given, adding “We don’t have a say about whether a property owner can build, but “What guides it is all of the studies along the way.”