Opposition Building

STOW – Todd Saracki is running into some opposition from homeowners neighboring his Carlton Homes development on Ashville Bay Road.

The North Harmony Zoning Board met Wednesday at the North Harmony community building in Stow.

Saracki, owner of Carlton Homes, attended the meeting to request an area variance for a lot width of 80 feet, smaller than the required 100 feet, on three new parcels to be divided from one larger parcel. The property includes one existing cottage located about 75 feet from the lakefront.

Before the board began reviewing the application, Brad Lawson, building and zoning code officer, provided background on the project.

“Saracki brought the final site plan to the (North Harmony planning) board on April 8 – all materials at that meeting were sent to the county planning board and Soil & Water. The North Harmony (planning board) approval was contingent upon the other approvals,” Lawson said.

Due to a miscommunication, the application was still pending approval from the county planning board and the county Soil & Water Conservation District. The board agreed that any zoning board approval would be contingent upon all other approvals.

James Levesque, board chairman, motioned to take lead agency status on the seeker that Saracki provided.

According to Saracki, the property has access to the lake via a gravel road, which he plans to upgrade to a paved surface that will provide right-of-way access for each building.

The three proposed buildings have a width of 80 feet and each will include a 1-acre lot.

“I’m kind of running out of time,” Saracki said. “I’ve been working on this project since last summer.”

Although Saracki said that he planned to comply with all regulations, the board asked Saracki to provide a revised plan that accounts for the setbacks.

Gregory Marzec, owner of an adjacent property to the proposed project, addressed the board with multiple concerns.

“We feel our property value is going to wind up being diminished by the larger properties,” Marzec said.

Specifically, Marzec said that his real concern is water management.

Marzec then spoke about Saracki’s hiring of Paul Potter, a “highly respected” local engineer, to perform a water management study on the property. According to Marzec, Saracki did hire Potter for the study, but the study only covered a fraction of the property and did not address water management in relation to neighboring properties.

After various conversations with Saracki, Marzec spoke to Potter himself to find out if Potter had visited the property prior to completing the most recent study.

According to Marzec, and confirmed by Saracki at the meeting, Potter had not visited the property for nearly one year.

“Carlton Homes has not done their due diligence,” Marzec said, urging the board to suspend a vote until a proper water management plan is provided.

Levesque asked Saracki if he had prepared a plan that includes the detailed locations for drainage pipes and ponds.

Saracki said a detailed plan would cost upward of $15,000 and he wanted to receive zoning board approval before sinking any more cost into the project.

Mary Laumer, a member of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy board of directors, spoke at the meeting on behalf of the conservancy.

“The conservancy has not formed an opinion on the property,” Laumer said. “We want to be sure that the excavation and development phases will not impact the lake.”

According to Laumer, the watershed meets with developers regularly and the conservancy strongly requested the zoning board delay approval on the project until a detailed landscape, erosion control, nutrient and sediment plan for the project was provided.

Saracki said that he has already been in contact with John Jablonski, executive director of the CWC, and plans to continue discussions with the conservancy.

Joe Hewson, owner of a neighboring property, spoke at the meeting, directing questions to Saracki about the price of the homes, how far away the homes will be from Route 394 and whether or not the properties will utilize wells.

According to Hewson, as a former safety manager, he also wanted to be sure the driveways on the properties would provide residents enough distance to get up to speed before merging onto Route 394.

In response to Hewson, Saracki said the asking price for the homes will be between $450,000 to $500,000.

Levesque made the decision to wait until the county planning board could further discuss the project before the zoning board decided on the area variance. He motioned to rescind lead agency status on the seeker.

In other business, Rod and Dawn Brink presented their case to the board, requesting a special permit to install a 24-foot above ground swimming pool at their property, located at 4841 College St. in Ashville.

After continued discussion, Levesque motioned that the board accept Brink’s application to install the pool.