Public Hearings Scheduled for HV Road, Distillery

By Jennie Acklin

After nearly two years of planning and review, the Gestion Blueberry Lake subdivision received the Town of Ellicottville Planning Board’s approval for its preliminary plat plan with seven conditions at its Monday, Sept.  22 meeting.

And it got a new name from its developers: “Forty-Two Degrees North.”

Forty-Two Degrees North is a 144-acre subdivision with 24 lots on 5 acres each, accessed by a private road off Poverty Hill Road. Homes will be sold primarily for vacation use and owners will be governed by a homeowners association. A community lodge on 10 acres, owned by the developers, will be constructed for residents’ use. Trails throughout the heavily wooded community, including the existing Finger Lakes Trail (which will be re-routed per the planning board), will allow for year-round “passive” recreation, including hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, etc.

The planning board had held over the public hearing on the plan from last month’s meeting to allow more time for town engineer Mark Alianello and town planner Carol Horowitz to review some remaining issues and allow the public to comment further. No formal comments were made in the interim or at the September meeting.

At the end of the two-hour discussion and a detailed State Environmental Quality Review on the 22nd, the board approved the plan with conditions that include:

A requirement to provide easements for drainage pond maintenance;

Development of a draft Homeowner’s Association Declaration and Offering Plan with specific provisions related to tree cutting on individual lots, well and septic system placement, trail maintenance and markings and a requirement that homeowners submit erosion and sediment control plans for their properties as part of their application for building permits from the Town of Ellicottville;

Improvement of the intersection with Poverty Hill Road to include tree removal and signage in consultation with the town highway superintendent;

A requirement to present a site plan review to the planning board for structures built on the 10-acre community parcel; and

A requirement to work with the Finger Lakes Trail Conference to relocate the trail through the property.

HV Road Realignment

Bonnie Koschir, director of operations at Holiday Valley, walked the planning board through the resort’s final plans to realign Holiday Valley Road to improve traffic/parking flow and pedestrian safety. Engineer Dave Johnson described efforts to address water treatment, saying that a detailed plan will be provided to the planning board at its next meeting.

The board has been generally satisfied with the informal plans as presented over the last several months and moved to schedule a public hearing on the matter at its Oct. 27 meeting.

Ellicottville Distillery

Bryan Scharf and Charlie Bares, owners of a site on Robbins Road they intend to adapt for a wholesale and retail apple brandy and apple vodka distillery, asked the board to review preliminary site plans for the proposed business, which also requires a special use permit from the town and additional permits from state and federal governments.

At earlier meetings, Horowitz concluded that a distillery would come under zoning laws intended for food processing establishments.

Under state law, the production site will be classified as a “farm distillery.” With that classification, the state requires that 80 percent of the business’s products — in this case, apples — must come from New York State growers. Down the road, the owners hope to distill grains to produce other types of liquors, which would require additional equipment and permits.

In reviewing the site plan, the board was shown an aerial photo of the 40’ by 60’ building on the 3-acre site. The owners plan to bury two, 5,000-gallon holding tanks on the property. One will be used for wastewater and waste products (which will be offered as livestock feed); the other will be used for cleaning and sanitizing waste. The second tank requires county health department approval. No exterior changes to the building are planned other than signage.

There also are plans to construct a small retail space in front of the building, and at some point in the future, a tasting room for customers. Horowitz noted that there is adequate parking for those uses.

The board approved a motion to hold a public hearing on the preliminary site plan and special use permit at its Oct. 27 meeting.

The Holiday Valley Road and Ellicottville Distillery hearings, as well as the next regular meeting of the planning board will begin at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 27 at the Town/Village Hall.