ACCORD – A pre-application meeting before the Rochester planning board on February 13 brought Nadine Sullivan of Peak Engineering and applicant Taavo Somer in to discuss new plans for the redevelopment of the Rondout Country Club and Golf Course, off Whitfield Road.
There are 137 acres involved and the initial plan is to redevelop the site in two phases, the first bringing back tennis courts and a swimming pool, and adding a new hotel, restaurant, and "events barn." In addition a group of small, 600 square foot cabins would be built for access by golf carts. Phase 2 would pursue subdivision for 12 lots for individual homes.
Rondout Country Club
With No Sale Or Changes
Imminent At This Point...
Golfers of the Rondout Valley should not despair. Chris Rowley's article last issue reporting on the Rochester Planning Board's review of a proposal involving the Rondout Country Club may have misled some to think that the golf course would soon be closed. Not so. John DeForrest, current golf pro and proprietor of the golf course says "the course will be open this summer and will be operating for the full season, as it has in the past."
Discussing the potential deal with Taavo Somers, DeForrest said, "This is exploratory at this point. We signed a non-binding agreement, giving them permission to go to the planning board and explore the board's response to their plans for the property."
In a statement, DeForrest said, "Your recent article ('Saying Goodbye To Golf') that was published on February 16 is inaccurate. The Rondout Country Club is the current owner of the property in question and plans to continue operations as a golf club and restaurant the same as it has in previous 20 plus years. We have been in discussion with Taavo Somer regarding the proposed future sale of the property, but the plan has always been to continue operations for at least the 2017 season. We have not been involved in any of his development plans, and therefore cannot comment on any planning board discussions."
Somer added that the golf course would be eliminated given that current economics show that it would take 96 years for the entity to pay for itself.
A number of points were discussed. Bank Road may be extended as far as Mill Hook Road at the western end of the property, which planning board chair Mike Baden thought would be good for fire safety. He then added that while planned resort development was allowed in the town's zoning, it required a minimum of 100 acres, as well as the stipulation that 50 percent of the property be retained as open space... which posed an immediate problem given that 75 of the 137 acres would be developed for individual homes.
Baden suggested building rental properties and time shares after explaining that the town wrote this into the code in response to the Hudson Valley Resort's plan to develop a golf course community, a plan that was shelved some time ago. He also noted that the developer could create a conservation easement with tight cluster housing, with a homeowners association and community water and sewer.
Some discussion of future buildings ensued, where it was noted that the code would allow a height of up to 60 feet or four stories for a planned resort. Baden noted that issues including parking, noise, fire and safety will be addressed as the plan goes forward, and suggested that some kind of roadway, not necessarily covered with asphalt, would be required to get fire equipment out to the proposed cabins.
Everyone agreed that a "gateway meeting" with Ulster County Planning would probably be the next step in the application's progress, and needed to be set up.
In other business, the planning board finished out the public hearing on Humphrey Enterprises Inc. application for a special use permit for multiple uses on nine acres sited behind Bob Gaydos' body shop on Route 209. The site is also accessed by Old Mine Road, and it is proposed to be primarily accessed via a right of way on Eric Gillis' property to Samsonville Road. The property is owned by planning board member John Dawson, who recused himself during the proceedings. He is seeking a single family dwelling, a retail business in an existing building, and commercial vehicle parking on an existing concrete slab. The planning board declared a negative declaration under SEQR, closed the public hearing and gave a conditional approval for the special use permit.