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Westport developer presents plans to planning board

WESTPORT-An attorney, an architect, and a contractor representing the prospective developer of the Treadwell estate in Westport presented their plans for the nearly 1,300-acre property during a regular planning board meeting March 1. The developer himself, Dave Mann of Westchester County, who had appeared in February before the town board, was not present.

Both the planning board meeting and the earlier town board meeting at which Mann introduced himself to the community were well-attended by curious local residents. After the presentation to the planning board, Mann's representatives answered questions from the audience.

Mann's architect, Mr. Dave Carr of the LA Group, displayed plans for the development, "Rolling Hills Farm," which he described as a private recreational club centered around a working farm. He said that development would be limited to the 61.8 acres lying east of Route 9N/22 and north of Camp Dudley Road. 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. In addition, a centrally-located educational center would offer members instruction in maple sugaring and baking as well as a supply depot where members could pick up farm products.

In opening remarks, planning board chairman Bill Johnston emphasized that no application for a special permit had yet been made, and that the town board would have to amend the town's land use law before any application could be made. Pending the amendment, Carr's attorney, Timothy R. Smith of Lake Placid, said he hoped to have a draft application ready for the planning board meeting at the end of March.

Once the planning board deems the application complete, the board has 20 days to determine whether the project will have significant environmental impact. If the board decides there will be no significant impact, they then have up to 62 days to hold a public hearing on the project, and then another period of up to 62 days after the public hearing to approve or deny the permit, or to approve it with conditions.

If all goes well, Johnston said, he and the planning board would hope to proceed with these steps long before the 62-day time limits are up. He also said that Smith, who has served as attorney for the Lake Placid-North Elba joint planning board, "has expressed his intention to deposit funds in escrow to cover legal and other technical costs to the town associated with reviewing the project."

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