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September 1, 2005
Under the current plan, a majority of The Awosting Reserve lands will be voluntarily placed under a conservation easement. This land, including the golf course, will be used for low impact recreation and education. The non-profit Awosting Trust will oversee and manage the open space network, a nature center and environmental education programs for residents and local school groups. The Trust will be permanently funded by a real estate transfer assessment on the sale and resale of home sites, cabins, cottages and retreats. The mission of The Awosting Trust will be to maintain conservation lands and greenspace in its natural condition, protect biodiversity at the The Awosting Reserve and assist in overseeing restrictive covenants.
The Awosting Center will be the social gathering place of the community. The Center's facilities will include the nature center, a sports garden with racquet courts, a fitness center and swimming pool and a rustic style mountain lodge for community dining. The Awosting Reserve will offer miles of trails, footpaths and carriage roads for hiking, biking, cross country skiing and just plain enjoyment of nature and the unique, indigenous ecosystem. A championship golf course environmentally designed by internationally acclaimed architect Rees Jones will be located primarily on the valley lands. Much of the golf course as well as the club house will be built on and near the original site of the Tillson Lake golf course active in the early 1900's. Lands supporting the golf links will be protected as open space by a conservation easement.
The developer and residents of The Awosting Reserve will be good citizens and long-term contributors to the local community, providing nature-based education through the Awosting Trust and other community initiatives. Furthermore, it is hoped that the planning for The Awosting Reserve will serve as a model approach to planning and design in the region.
In the mid-1950s, John Atwater Bradley, then a graduate student, attended a conference at Bear Cliff in Cragsmoor, the site of a celebrated 19th Century art colony located not far from what is now The Awosting Reserve. The next morning at first light he went out for an exploratory hike and did not return until long after dark. John Bradley hiked through evergreen and hardwood forests, along bubbling streams and roaring waterfalls and shimmering mountain lakes. He discovered an incredible wilderness like none he'd ever seen, populated by whitetail deer, black bear, fox, raccoons, bobcat and coyote as well as a natural aviary of hawks, peregrine falcons, owls, eagles and pileated woodpeckers. That day he fell in love with the Shawangunk Ridge.
A year later
Bradley leased a parcel of land including Lake Haseco, known by the owners
as Lily Pond, the smallest and most remote of the five glacier-formed
"blue sky lakes" that top the Shawangunk Ridge, from the Bruyn
family of Brykill. He built a tent platform on the property not far from
a small waterfall he named Thoreau Falls. He called the property Thoreau
Woods. Twenty years later he bought the parcel from the Bruyn Estate.
Environmentally Sensitive Plan
The Reserve contains Tillson Lake. more than ten natural waterfalls and cascades, and a network of streams and brooks. These features will be protected from development so that the tranquility and visual complexity of their natural architecture will be preserved. Protected by appropriate boundaries, their natural heritage and character will remain unspoiled. There will be generous setbacks from streams that will provide both protection and discourage off-trail uses. Access to these resources will be along a system of trails through undeveloped corridors that will lace The Reserve. Such corridors also will allow wildlife movement across the property.
Under the proposed development plan, the majority of the land acreage will be protected in perpetuity by a voluntarily created conservation easement. This land will be managed by the non-profit Awosting Trust. The golf course and the area around Tillson Lake, also under a conservation easement, will contain golf-related and beach facilities. The topography of the land will make portions of The Reserve and some of its homesites potentially visible in some seasons from the cliffs in Minnewaska State Park above or from the valley below. The Awosting Reserve will not allow any structures within 200 feet of the cliffs along the ridge. Clustering of structures and preservation of natural vegetation will screen homesites both from the ridge and the valley. Clearing uphill from homes will be restricted to ensure that views from the mountain are not seriously compromised. Clearing on the downhill side will be controlled to limit views from the valley. Height restrictions as well as prescribed roof materials and designs will mitigate unwanted visual impacts.
The Planning Process
process for The Awosting Reserve brought many specialists onto the property
to study its natural resources, topography and physical relationships
to surrounding land. Wetlands biologists delineated all of the wetlands
and a licensed surveyor recorded wetland boundaries. Other biologists
studied and mapped The Awosting Reserve's vegetative cover. They reviewed
the literature and developed a basic understanding of which wildlife species
use the land and how they exist within ecosystems. A herpetologist-led
team spent about 30 man-days looking for evidence of snakes and their
dens with particular emphasis on the timber rattler. A hydrologist studied
available mapping for the region, aerial photography and related information.
Test wells were dug and monitored. An archaeologist completed a Phase
I study looking for evidence of historic human use of the land. The potential
for visual impacts of development was preliminarily studied from areas
with views of The Awosting Reserve from above, below and afar. Topography
was surveyed to a two-foot contour interval and the survey was used to
determine natural slope and drainage. Baseline data on traffic levels
was gathered on roads and intersections in the neighborhood. All of this
information was considered and collated to produce an environmentally
sensitive plan for the establishment of a community of families on The
Facilities at The Awosting Center will include:
A Mountain Lodge for community dining, meeting facilities and a post office. The post office will be a daily gathering place for The Awosting Reserve residents to collect mail and converse with neighbors.
A Nature Center for displays and educational projects concerning the natural environment of The Awosting Reserve, will provide programming for families and children. It will house a library, lecture and meeting rooms and computer stations to conduct research.
A Fitness Center with state-of-the-art exercise facilities also will be a focus for outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking and nature walks.
An Administration Building.
Outdoor racquet courts and a swimming pool.
The Awosting Reserve plan calls for the creation of The Awosting Trust, a non-profit organization empowered to maintain Awosting land in its natural condition, protect ecosystems and biodiversity at The Reserve and assist in overseeing protective land covenants. The Trust will also design and manage educational programs about the natural treasures of The Awosting Reserve and the Shawangunk Ridge region.
The Awosting Trust will be funded by a real estate transfer assessment on the sale and resale of homesites, retreats, cottages and cabins. The Trust will manage the open space network, The Awosting Reserve Nature Center and the nature education programs. The Awosting Trust will be incorporated to hold title to a majority of the acres for conservation and recreation open space on The Awosting Reserve. These will include ecologically significant lands such as waterfalls, wetlands, streams, and promontories, and will be held in trust as community common lands for the benefit of all. In addition, the Trust will require individually owned homesites to employ generous setbacks and protective buffers to screen natural features and trail systems from lands set aside for cabins, cottages and recreational facilities.
will be an active partner with resident families on The Reserve as well
as local and regional conservation organizations in the greater Hudson
River Valley. It will advise on construction to minimize impacts on the
general environment and The Reserve's flora and fauna. The Trust will
protect watercourses, monitor setbacks and buffers, maintain trail systems
of The Awosting Reserve, develop interpretive materials and conservation
programs for visitors and residents, and conduct regular inventories to
audit the health and condition of natural communities and sensitive habitat
on the Reserve.
Land Planning, Landscape Architecture and Graphic Designers:
Golf Course Design:
Associates Environmental Consulting, Inc.
Engineering and Hydrogeology:
Planning and Environmental Review:
and Schiff, Inc.
land plan for the community that creates open space on land that is environmentally
sensitive and vulnerable to development.
The goal of the conservation community is to attract environmentally concerned property owners who share the ideal of living within a nature park. The property has been carefully planned to protect natural resources and the majority of the land is set aside as open space through conservation easements. Families will take advantage of the nature center, nature programs and outings and make use of the recreational opportunities such as trails and Tillson Lake. The community will center around the Awosting Trust, a non-profit organization that will operate the nature center, manage the open space, and provide environmental education. It will also provide workshops to property owners to make them better stewards of land in the community. Strict deed covenants, conditions, and restrictions will be placed on each home site to carefully control architectural design, clearing of land, home building and landscaping.
2. How does the creation of a new community help preserve the Shawangunk Ridge?
John Bradley and his partners' careful assembly of over 25 individual land parcels has allowed the Towns of Gardiner, Wawarsing and Shawangunk to review a comprehensive land plan instead of piecemeal development on the smaller tracts. The nature of large scale land planning results in many benefits for the Ridge. Of the 2,500 acres of The Awosting Reserve, only about 900 acres will be impacted and over 1,600 acres will be voluntarily placed under a conservation easement to be managed by a land trust. There will be permanent protection of wetlands, stream corridors, sensitive plant communities and visual assets on The Awosting Reserve. A 200 ft. buffer is planned along The Awosting Reserve boundary with Minnewaska State Park. Strict deed restrictions on cabin, cottage and retreat sites will control:
disturbance and clearing
The Awosting Reserve will attract conservation-minded homeowners looking after the land of The Awosting Reserve and the Shawangunk Ridge.
3. What effects will the golf course have on the environment?
The course will be designed with storm water management systems that follow research based technology. Modern turfgrass management practices greatly reduce or eliminate the amount of herbicides and pesticides that enter the ground or surface water systems and cut down on water needs. The Awosting Reserve course will be designed to keep the amount of turfgrass needing maintenance to a minimum. Environmentally designed golf courses create habitat for wildlife. The water features of the course will be planted with native aquatic plant species that will be attractive to a number of animal species as feeding and nesting opportunities and are valuable for wildlife observation. A voluntarily created conservation easement will guarantee the land will not be developed beyond what is proposed for the golf course. The Rees Jones course at The Awosting Reserve will be surrounded by nature, not homes. The golf course will incorporate principals promoted by Audubon International in designing and maintaining golf courses that are environmentally friendly.
4. Why are private roads proposed for The Awosting Reserve?
The Awosting Reserve development will, in effect, pay for conservation of the dedicated open space. The value added by making these roads private will make it possible to dedicate so much land to open space.
The Awosting Reserve residents will pay taxes to build and maintain roads throughout the Towns and County. The roads in The Awosting Reserve, however, will be built to high standards by the developer and maintained by the Home Owners Association. Their costs will not be an additional burden to the Town of Gardiner taxpayers and the highway department. Roads will be well maintained, as are all roads in the county, to meet standards for quality and safety. Private roads will serve to control the amount of human impact on Shawangunk Ridge by controlling public access.
5. Will the roads meet the town road standards?
Reserve will agree to meet town road standards. If the Towns deem it appropriate
to accept alternative but safe road design standards at lower design speeds
and secondary roads built with shale, we believe we can reduce the impact
from roads on the environment. Narrow roads with smaller turning radii
will require less clearing and storm water management.
6. What impacts will the roads have on the environment?
The roads will not negatively impact downstream water quality. Stormwater runoff will be retained and filtered in natural basins to remove any added sediment and other materials that may enter the watershed.
We are evaluating stream crossing construction options that use arch-type structures or bridges to span the stream channels to minimize or avoid disturbance of natural stream channels. To the extent practical, earthwork needed to develop benches for road construction will be kept within the proposed 50 to 60 foot wide road Right-Of-Way. These road construction methods will minimize clearing requirements, yet still allow driveway access to the individual lots. A geotechnical investigation is proposed to characterize soil and foundation conditions for the earthwork and road development. A report on these findings and the proposed construction methods will be included in the Environmental Impact Statement required by the SEQRA process.
7. Has The Awosting Reserve taken into consideration the fire concerns of the Shawangunk Ridge?
A network of fire lanes was constructed on The Awosting Reserve in the 1970s along with several water impoundments to provide water as needed. New, well-maintained roads will provide much improved access to the site and adjacent land for fire fighting purposes. There will be numerous wells throughout the property to allow more water sources for firefighting, especially in summer and early fall when some streams are dry. Also, stormwater management basins may be developed as fire ponds. Roads and trails will create fire breaks as well as better access. On homesites there will be some clearing of downed trees and underbrush which could otherwise serve as fuel for fires. Between the staff of The Awosting Reserve and the property owners, there will be more observers on site to monitor for fires and create quicker response times. The Awosting Reserve has also provided a site for an Emergency Response Center that could also benefit other properties in the area.
8. What visual impact will the project have?
During the SEQRA process, a detailed Visual Impact Analysis of The Awosting Reserve will be completed. The DEC will require that the views of The Awosting Reserve will be analyzed from the valley, the cliffs, the State Park and Sam's Point.
Preliminarily our planning process took precautions with setbacks from the Minnewaska State Park boundary and its cliffs. Building setbacks and a naturally vegetated perimeter around the developed portion of each lot will be required that will help reduce potential visual impacts from buildings. No buildings will be located on slopes greater than 25%. There are strict codes, conditions and deed restrictions on all cabin, cottage and retreat sites. These place limits on building size, materials, colors and lighting. We can mitigate views from the valley by selective clearing and careful siting of structures.
Of the 1,600 acres to be protected by a voluntarily created open space, approximately 600 acres connects directly to Minnewaska State Park and Sam's Point Preserve, effectively extending the amount of contiguous protected forest. It is useful as visual backdrop and buffers and to protect sections of watersheds. The open space bordering the park is separated only by low speed/low traffic roads from an additional 600 acres within the community. Additionally, 270 acres, the golf course and the area around Tillson Lake, are also voluntarily placed under a conservation easement. Except for golf course related buildings, this area will remain structure-free and will not be developed beyond what is proposed for the golf course. There will be permanent protection of wetlands, stream corridors, sensitive plant communities and visual assets on The Awosting Reserve. This would be one of the largest private commitments to conservation and open space ever made in Ulster County.
10. Will there be public access to The Awosting Reserve?
The Awosting Reserve property has been gated, signed and held in private ownership with access allowed only for family, friends and guests of the owner for many years. Recreation opportunities abound in the nearly 23,000 acres that surround The Awosting Reserve, including 12,000+ acre Minnewaska State Park, 6,400 acre Mohonk Preserve and 4,600 acre Sam's Point. We are interested in working with Minnewaska State Park & Sam's Point to realign and re-open the closed section of the Long Path that passes through the property. There will be times when there will be access to The Awosting Reserve through programming at the Awosting Trust.
11. What will be built on the homesites?
The homes in The Awosting Reserve conservation community will be clustered on land with slopes suitable to development. All homesites will be sited on land with slopes of 25% or less. Three types of mountain homes with limited building envelopes will be permitted:
Retreats - low density and low impact family camps on approximately two acres of land.
Cottages - smaller structures of on approximately one acre of land near the Village Center or important site features.
Cabins - even smaller mountain structures on approximately 1/2 acre of land within walking distance of the Village Center.
There will be no minimum home size required but a maximum size will be set for each site. Strict guidelines will govern the architecture, siting, construction and maintenance of all homes. Covenants and deed restrictions will be managed by the Awosting Property Owner's Association.
12. What threatened or endangered species may be impacted?
A thorough study of wildlife will be completed as part of the SEQRA process. Studies are currently being conducted by a team of biologists who have regional expertise in the protected species that may be found on, or in the vicinity, of the site. Protected species, or rare habitats, that may be found on the site will be protected in accordance with the standards and recommendations from the DEC.
13. How will The Awosting Reserve's sewage be treated and how will it affect the neighborhood and the environment?
Wastewater from proposed site uses will be disposed of via a limited number of on-site in-ground septic systems and primarily via a community owned and managed wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) with a surface water discharge. Septic systems will be limited to locations not easily served by a collection system. The WWTF discharge will be treated to the quality of drinking water so it can be released to a nearby stream. Centralized WWTFs are preferred for the residential development at The Awosting Reserve because septic systems would require additional clearing on each building site. Visual impacts of each home can be reduced significantly by careful landscaping at each site.
The current concept is to collect wastewater from all hillside homes and facilities and treat it in an enclosed structure that resembles a farm building, to contain and treat odors. Under New York State regulations for wastewater treatment plants, the facility at The Awosting Reserve will be operated by licensed personnel and monitored by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). If deemed appropriate by the NYSDEC and Town of Gardiner, the treatment plant discharge may be used as a supplemental source of irrigation water for the golf course.
14. How will the water quality of the streams be protected?
The proposed wastewater treatment plant has biological processes and physical processes to deactivate biological organisms and to remove nutrients from the waste stream. These processes will be designed to meet the most stringent limits required in New York State known as "Intermittent Stream Standards". These standards were developed by New York State to be protective of the aquatic environment in streams even during very low flow conditions. Because of the high degree of treatment, the effluent will not adversely affect any current or potential uses of the stream.
The State's Intermittent Stream Standards are designed to be protective of all indigenous stream species, including trout. The standards include minimum dissolved oxygen concentrations and maximum temperature levels that the NYSDEC confirm are important in protecting stream habitats.
The processes that are being proposed for the wastewater treatment plant result in an effluent that meets New York State's Intermittent Stream Standards. Like all wastewater treatment plants, the NYSDEC must approve the design of treatment facilities and will need to issue a discharge permit before the wastewater treatment plant can be built. The completed facility must be certified by a NYS licensed Professional Engineer as having been built in substantial conformance with the approved plans. The Awosting Reserve will contract with only reputable contractors for the construction of the wastewater treatment plant and both The Awosting Reserve and NYSDEC will monitor the construction work to confirm that it meets standards.
15. From where will the Awosting project obtain its water supply and how will it affect neighboring wells?
Most individual homes will be served by private wells constructed on their own lots. Test wells have been drilled on The Awosting Reserve land. These confirm that individual wells for single family homes can successfully be drilled. Near the Awosting Center, enough homes and community features will be clustered together to be served by a community water system with two or more wells as its source. This cluster lies near the center of the hillside site where no drawdown impacts will extend off-site.
The types of soil and rock formations in the area receive sufficient aquifer recharge that less than one acre can normally provide enough water for a household well. Even including the cluster area, this project nets out at over five acres of recharge per proposed homesite. This means that water for the project should be sustainable using on site groundwater resources, and that large volumes of groundwater will remain in the watershed.
be clearing limits for each individual home, reducing irrigation demands
for private homes. The golf course will be irrigated, but groundwater
is not the proposed source for irrigation. Irrigation supplies will be
obtained from Tillson Lake. Our preliminary calculations indicate that
runoff from the Tillson Lake watershed is sufficient to meet irrigation
needs and keep the lake replenished even during drought conditions.
16. How will The Awosting Reserve impact the wetlands on the property?
Despite encompassing over 2,500 acres, the land plan proposes a total disturbance of less than one acre of regulated wetland. The disturbance is necessitated by a limited number of road crossings. Any impact will be mitigated as required by the Army Corps of Engineers or New York State. As required by New York State law, all new structures will be located at least 100 feet from New York State's designated freshwater wetlands.
17. Has The Awosting Reserve provided for adequate stream buffers?
Yes. All development will be setback 50 feet from all protected streams, as required by State law. Most of the stream flows in The Awosting Reserve pass through conservation easement open space, providing more complete protection.
18. How many jobs will The Awosting Reserve create?
It is estimated that 200-250 jobs will be created during the construction phase of The Awosting Reserve. An additional 60-70 permanent, non-construction jobs are expected to be created. The permanent jobs will include a mix of top management, mid-level management and entry level jobs.
19. What traffic impacts will be created by The Awosting Reserve?
We will have a better understanding of traffic impacts as the environmental review process progresses. Our very preliminary studies project approximately 180 peak hour trips added to the local roadway network.
20. Will stormwater runoff pollute Tillson Lake and associated streams?
Stormwater runoff quality is protected in two ways: prevention and stabilization. Prevention measures will include the design and proactive implementation of soil erosion and sediment control methods during construction. For many years, New York State has published guidance for temporary and permanent erosion and sediment controls. More recently, the New York State Stormwater Management Design Manual has been published and provides detailed design objectives and options for protecting water quality. Under SPDES general permit requirements for construction sites, administered by NYSDEC, a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) will be prepared. The SWPPP will include a variety of general and site-specific requirements for implementation including: structural and non-structural practices, inspections, contractor certifications, compliance with narrative water quality standards and other conditions.
In addition to standard preventative and stabilization measures to control erosion, particularly during construction, permanent measures will include stormwater quality basins. These basins will be constructed along the path of runoff from developed or disturbed lands to treat the "first flush" runoff volume which is understood to convey the majority of storm event-generated pollutants to surface water. As such, these structures provide a treatment buffer between developed and existing surface water bodies.