The Town of Sharon’s Joint Planning Board Thursday accepted an application to subdivide the Key farm on Staleyville Road as complete.
That opens the door to approving the project, which would divide the 350-acre dairy farm into 23 large-acreage lots that developers say would most likely be used for second homes, hunting, and even farming.
The JBP will hold a public hearing on the subdivision itself at the October 18 meeting; last Wednesday’s unanimous vote to accept the application as complete followed a public hearing continued from August and a lengthy review of the project’s likely environmental impact.
JBP members issued a “negative declaration” for the proposal from New York Land and Lakes Development for Ray and Pamela Key and Scott Key.
That means that while the project would impact some of the issues listed in the state-required Environmental Assessment Form, none of them are “significant”—another state term.
Peter Doherty is a neighbor who disagrees, largely because of the threatened and endangered bird species on his own property.
Other neighbors—among them other dairy farmers—have call on the JBP to follow its own Comprehensive Plan, arguing that subdividing the farm will limit their ability to farm.
“I’m a young farmer,” said Justin Ryan, whose parents own a Montgomery County farm that backs up to the Keys’ property.
Mr. Ryan said he plans to keep farming, “but we can’t grow our business if the subdivisions move in. Dairy farmers bring in a lot of revenue.”
Other neighbors have questioned the proposal’s impact on water and traffic.
“There were an awful lot of things we looked at and we spent a lot of time on this,” said JPB Chairman Ray Parsons after the vote.
“I can see it both ways,” said JBP member Carl Seegers. “It’s their [the Keys’] investment and their land. It’s someone’s money we’re talking about.
“On the other hand, we’ve dealt with so many projects where guys want to come in and chop up the land…”
The sale of the farm to New York Land and Lakes is contingent upon the project’s approval; the property had been on the market as a farm for more than a year.
Among the EAF items JBP members agreed the project has the potential to impact are land, groundwater, plants and animals, and access to agricultural resources.
All of those impacts, however, were listed as “small.”
Planners noted the impact to endangered bird species could actually be positive as land uses change and said there would be no impact on flooding or air.
The lost farmland is a relatively small piece of the acreage in Ag District #3, they also agreed, and there will continue to be opportunities to farm the former dairy farm after the property is subdivided.
The project application will now be forwarded to the County Planning Commission for review.
The next public hearing, set for 6:45pm on October 18, will focus on the specifics of the subdivision; planners can approve the application as submitted, approve it with modifications, or not approve it.