About 45 people attended an August 27 Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) meeting in seeking to learn more about a 23-lot cluster-style residential subdivision proposed for the Dodgingtown section.
However, they learned at the IWC meeting that due to a technicality, a public hearing on the proposal, known as The Preserve at Newtown, would not be held that night, as had been initially planned. The probable change in plans was announced on August 26 by The Newtown Bee as well as a note within the meeting’s agenda.
All property owners with holdings within 500 feet of a subdivision site must, by law, be formally notified of such a public hearing.
That requirement, however, had not been met, so the project’s developer sought on August 22 and then received on August 27 the IWC’s approval to have the public hearing rescheduled to September, so that such formal notification could be fully made.
The public hearing is now slated for 7:30 pm on Wednesday, September 10, at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street.
At the outset of the August 27 IWC session, IWC Chairman Mary Curran told those present that the error had occurred, requiring that the public hearing be rescheduled. Consequently, there was no public discussion of the subdivision application.
“I’m very sorry,” Ms Curran said.
“The application can’t be ‘heard’ tonight,” she added.
“It’s of great public interest,” she noted in view of the large turnout at the meeting.
Members of the public then filed out of the large meeting room at Newtown Municipal Center, some of them audibly disappointed that the hearing would not be held that night.
The IWC then briefly discussed a pending application for a Currituck Road property, after which it concluded the session, the entire meeting lasting only about seven minutes.
Two development firms are proposing the construction of The Preserve at Newtown subdivision at a 167-acre site. The project is proposed by developers KASL, LLC, and IBF, LLC. The firms are represented by local developer/builder George L. Trudell.
The cluster-style development is designed to cluster its houses in two separate areas on the sprawling site in seeking to preserve a large amount of undeveloped open space land.
About nine house lots would be created along the southeast side of Robin Hill Road #2, which extends northeastward from Rock Ridge Road near Rock Ridge Country Club.
Another cluster of house lots would be constructed on a proposed new dead end street to be known as Deer Hill Drive extending southeastward from Scudder Road, south of Ferris Road.
By clustering the houses on relatively small lots, the plans would allow 84 acres, or about half of the site, to remain undeveloped and protected as open space land.
As part of their technical review of the application, IWC members will tour the site to learn how the project’s engineering design would environmentally protect wetlands and watercourses there. The IWC’s regulatory role is to review development plans with an eye toward requiring measures to environmentally protect wetlands and watercourses.
After such a development project gains IWC approval, it typically is submitted for a planning review by the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z). The P&Z also holds public hearings on such applications. P&Z review of such applications is broader in scope than IWC review.
The Preserve proposal is different than other subdivision applications in that it seeks approval for the project under the terms of the P&Z’s regulations on cluster housing, also known as the “open space conservation subdivision” (OSCS) rules. The OSCS regulations seek to maximize the amount of land at a site which is left undeveloped and preserved as open space.
The IWC development plans filed by the applicant are available for public review at the town land use agency office at Newtown Municipal Center during regular business hours, 8 am to 4:30 pm, Mondays through Fridays.