Public opinion in favor of farm

WESTPORT-There were 82 people that attended a public hearing in the town offices here on May 25, as the Westport Planning Board offered an opportunity for questions and comment on the proposed Rolling Hills development of the former Treadwell estate.

The developer, Dave Mann of Westchester County, was present for the hearing, as were his lead architect, Dave Carr, and his attorney, Timothy R. Smith of Lake Placid. Mann and his team have applied to the planning board for a special permit to cover the project, which they describe as "a farm-related private membership club." Further meetings of the Planning Board are scheduled for June 15 and 22, during which board Chairman William Johnston said he hopes the board will reach a decision on the special permit.

Before the public questions began, Mann and Carr reviewed the plans for the audience. Development of the pristine property on Lake Champlain would be limited to the 61.8 acres lying east of Route 9N/22 and north of Camp Dudley Road, they said. The remaining land, which is protected through easements held by the Nature Conservancy, would be left for farming. The plans call for 37 new buildings, which together would contain 99 living units, including 33 cottage duplexes and a large three-wing "Manor House" with 10 units in each wing. To prevent overbuilding, Carr assured the audience, construction will occur in three phases, and phases two and three would not begin unless justified by demand.

No lakefront development will take place, Mann and Carr said, repeating an assurance made repeatedly at earlier planning board meetings.

The numerous questions from local residents showed a high level of curiosity. Carl Resek wondered if the club was envisioned as for-profit or non-profit enterprise. "It better be for profit," Mann responded to general laughter. He explained that he plans for club members to pay an initiation fee and then to share annual expenses among themselves each year. He himself will retain sole ownership and control over the property. He also said that he believes he already has "25 to 30 members guaranteed, and maybe more," people he described as friends and business associates who would enjoy a chance to relax and get away from it all.

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