Controversial senior housing gets OK in Schoharie


By David Avitabile

Construction of the controversial 72-unit senior housing project in Schoharie should begin late this fall after the village planning board gave its final approval Monday night.
The board, by a 4-0 vote, approved the site plan for the three-building project for south Main Street, just down from the former Great American site.
Board members, who have held a series of meetings on the project, had few comments about the Birches project Monday except to review the items required for a site plan. The developers met each of the requirements.
They also noted that the developers, after requests, agreed to put in a generator and made changes to signage, lighting and the building's faces and to add more screening.
The plans, they said, were found to be in compliance with the Schoharie land use laws and comprehensive plans and the buildings will be "compatible and in harmony with the surrounding community."
A representative of Omni Housing, the developer of the project, told board members Monday that they are wrapping up the archaeological study on the property and will be obtaining permits. It should be a "couple of months" before construction begins.
Board members Monday briefly touched on drainage issues. Several nearby neighbors, both north and south of the project flooded the board with concerns at public hearings.
The barrier walls will not act as a dam and will not push water to the south of the project, according to Chairman Dusty Putnam.
There was also a question about the tremendous amount of fill needed to raise the buildings above the height of the 2011 flood.
One of the requirements in the site plan is that fill only be delivered between 8am to 4pm, Monday through Saturday. There is no limit on the number of truck loads.
Before the meeting, Ms. Putnam said there was no issue of the project that has not met the land use law.
The project, she added, will not change the current water flow whatsoever and the change should be none or minimal.
"We're talking tenths of inches."
The project will remain senior housing for at least 30 years.