Devil is in details of Waubeeka proposal
To the editor:
Regarding the Waubeeka proposal to build a "country inn" just south of the Five Corners Historic District in Williamstown, some apparently think there is a conspiracy to stifle development and thwart business growth by a selfish group of abutters and tree-hugging conservationists. The devil is in the details. Good solid facts are needed.
Trust in a future unknown developer is a tricky thing. The applicant has already violated permits of both the Williamstown Conservation Commission and the Sign Commission. Not a good public relations tactic so far. "Trust but verify" means that the Planning Board is wise to place reasonable limits on the great unknown of this commercial development.
Yes, the applicant does need to give something back. The "trade-off" for rezoning Rural Residence 2 to allow a major hotel, spa, entertainment center with all-night lights, noise, alcohol, traffic and increased activity of many kinds, is to preserve areas of water resource importance that will not impact golfing or building.
The major concern is the 67-acre parcel at the far back end of the property, not used for golf, that is wooded, hilly, with many wet areas and small streams. That water protection area needs a "clean" Conservation Restriction (CR) to be meaningful.
The second area of concern, in exchange for additional square feet of building, is to be determined by the Williamstown Conservation Commission, but assumed to be the watershed area along the west branch of the Green River that passes through the northern edge of the course. That area would continue to be used for golf, but would be protected from future, as yet unknowable, negative uses. Clean water is our most precious resource, as evidenced by nearby towns' pollutants coming to light. We need to be good stewards of all aquifers in Williamstown.
Also, size does matter. The developer's proposal of roughly 120 units (rooms?) is about the size of the current Williams Inn after the rear annex was built. You can pack a lot into Mr. Deep's proposed 10 acres, even with the town's height restriction. The "country inn" seems to be getting bigger and bigger with no square footage limits on buildings. It is referred to as a destination resort, year-round, 24/7 activity, to replace a seasonal, daytime use.
Thoughtful, careful planning for this unique site is needed. No one is trying to sabotage the project, just to keep it within a tolerable scale. We rely on dedicated, unpaid citizens to protect the health and safety of our people, environment, schools, etc., and trust that our newly elected members of all town boards will do just that.
Susan Schneski, Williamstown
The writer is a former member of the Planning Board, Historical Commission, and a several school and library study groups. She is not an abutter of Waubeeka.