By Judy Garrison

Most of the March 12th Planning Board Meeting was devoted to follow-up presentations by the O’Connor Hospital team looking for approvals for their proposal to build a 2,800 square foot primary care facility on the 1.7 acre parcel on South Main Street located between Ballantine Park and the former George Ballantine cottage. O’Connor’s intent is to establish a clinic operated by their health network, Bassett Healthcare, which would be open Monday through Friday, seeing an estimated 40 patients a day. Lee Marigliano, of Delta Engineers & Architects, the project architect, gave a complete report and stated the Long Form SEQRA had been submitted. In addressing the lighting issues, he explained that it would be all “down” light, therefore no glare, and outlined the options. A hospital representative stated that regulations require that the lights on the building must be on all night. Marigliano said that he took cues from Greek revival farmhouse detailing for the exterior building design. Its foundation will be elevated 3 feet on a crawl space, with 14 flood vents to allow floodwater to flow through.

Alton Knapp, a certified flood plain manager and former DEC engineer, used information from Delta and an on-site visit as well as earlier FEMA reports and observations and photos contributed by our local population. He spoke in detail about 100-year and 500-year floods (less than a foot difference), showed charts with various flood elevations, gradients, and modeled the building as an encroachment in the flood plain However, he asserted that the footprint of the building is not in the floodplain and wouldn’t be flooded by either a 100-year or 500-year discharge, according to official calculations, though it was in 1996, when the “flood of record” for our area, a rare event, occurred, putting it under 2 feet of water. He further stated that our bridges and culverts were designed for 25 and 50 year events. When the discussion turned to causes and effects of water velocity, Bud Gladstone speaking from the floor emphasized that plugging of streams, which increases when streams are not dredged, is part of the equation, creating choke points.

The project was classified as a Type 1 action at the last meeting, but doesn’t meet that threshold, the planners said, and should have been “Unlisted.” The Long Form SEQRA is still necessary. A new motion to re-classify was passed.

Frank Winkler, chair, requested a new cross-section for the Planning Board to review. The Department of Public Works will do a review as will Soil & Water Conservation. A floodplain development permit will be required from Art Short, Town Code Enforcement Officer, even though the proposed building is not on the flood plain.

A Public Hearing at Town Hall on Monday, April 2nd at 7:30 pm on both the sub-division and site plan is scheduled. A letter of comment can be submitted to the Planning Board ahead of the hearing. The flood study and drawings of the proposed building and parking area will be available for viewing at the Town Clerk’s office one week prior to the hearing. ~