Housing development in Middleburgh is changing to accommodate exodus from big cities

MIDDLEBURGH – What was once a plan to build 16 multi-unit townhouses is now a 64 single-family condominium project on the same 12-acre site in the village.

The Middleburgh Meadows Project, launched in 2015 after the community lost its only grocery store and a number of other buildings to Hurricane Irene in 2011, has become a different project than originally planned, in part. because many residents for small communities after the pandemic.

The development of Altamont’s Carver Companies construction company includes the now completed Valley Market grocery store, as well as 64 condominiums or single-family homes, all located between River Street and Middle Fort Road. The store, owned by the Carver Companies, opened in 2018 and is operated by Geanine and Jim Eisel, who also run the Great American grocery store in Prattsville.

“The grocery store was a bright light in a bad situation,” said Trish Bergan, mayor of Middleburgh. “People weren’t very excited about a real estate development project, but they understood the need for it.

The plan for the original housing development was well publicized and openly negotiated at several village meetings, said Bobbi Ryan, a resident of Middleburgh. In 2016, the plan was approved by the mayor and the village board of directors. In December 2020, the company requested an exemption from the Town Planning Council to change lanes.

Construction on the newly configured housing complex began in the spring of this year. In an email to IDA, Carver’s Nick Laraway said the company was changing its strategy “given the exodus from metro markets” and instead building single-family condominiums or homes on the same lots.

A number of Middleburgh residents have had a negative reaction.

“When we [saw] the new plan, we were just shocked, ”said Kim Smith, whose property borders the new development. “The project they are currently carrying out is nothing like what was mentioned during the public hearings.

Nick Laraway declined to discuss the development and hung up the phone when The Daily Gazette asked for comment.

Now, each of the single-family condominiums will have three bedrooms, according to Ryan, former chairman of the Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce.

Carver will own all of the land, but the buyers of the single-family condominiums will own their homes, Bergan said. Carver justified the move from 16 multi-unit townhouses to 64 condominiums with a market research they conducted, which showed greater demand for single-family homes instead of townhouses, Bergan said.

The Middleburgh Meadows Facebook page notes that each condo will retail from $ 220,000. “Country living with a twist,” the page said. “Custom features, private driveway, park-like setting, washer and dryer, off-street parking, optional elevator and dumbwaiter.”

Some residents have expressed concern about the marketed price, particularly because Carver initially advertised the townhouses as affordable. “It would probably be a little out of my price range. For most of the people here, that would be the upper limit of what they could afford, ”Bergan said.

Residents also took issue with Carver’s new plan, as they said the change never went through a public approval process, Ryan said. Instead, the Middleburgh Planning Council granted a site plan waiver on April 13, which resulted in the company not getting public approval for any changes to the project.

Seven of the eight PsBoard members voted to approve the waiver and one member recused himself from the vote.

“It was not a substantial change for the project itself,” said Denise Lloyd, vice chair of the Planning Board. “Yes, there was going to be more buildings, but this particular change was not significant enough to warrant another review.”

Pat White, Laraway’s aunt and a 40-year planning board member, was one of seven members who voted to approve the waiver.

Fred Risse, chairman of the Planning Council, said he too believed the changes to the project were not significant enough to require public scrutiny. The overall cost and square footage of the project did not change, Risse said.

Carver has done other good plans for Middleburgh, Risse said. So he trusted the changes Carver wanted to make to the Middleburgh Meadows project. “The things Carver has done in the past are high class.”

Ryan said the PThe board waiver made Laraway’s request appear to be more important than the response from the residents of Middleburgh. “It’s shocking to me that the voices of some people carry more weight than others,” she said.

The project cannot be stopped by village officials, Bergan said, because the company has obeyed the law.

“[The Laraways are] a good family – they’ve done a lot for the community, ”said Bergan. “I don’t think they tried to do anything sneaky.”

Timothy Knight, an administrator for the village of Middleburgh, said he wanted the Laraways to be more open to village residents with their new plans, but it is important that the project move forward due to the growing population and the base. broader tax that it will provide to the community.

“I wish there was more transparency, but I think this project overall will be very beneficial for the village of Middleburgh,” said Knight.

Bergan agreed with Knight that the most productive option now is to work with Carver to negotiate reducing the number of units, or adding some sort of fencing or vegetation to block the homes from neighbors’ views. “The best we can do at this point without huge legal battles is to really work with them,” Bergan said.

However, some residents are still concerned about the inconsistent appearance of the houses with that of the historic buildings in the village and the possibility that none of the houses will be purchased at the asking price.

The state carried out an archaeological survey of the area and determined that the property was of no historical significance prohibiting construction. However, residents challenged the reclassification of the property from the historic district to the business district, Bergan said.

“We can’t be more at the heart of the story than that [development] in Middleburgh, ”Ryan said. “When history is erased, you cannot get it back. ”

Smith said she hoped Carver would be willing to negotiate with her and other neighbors in the new development about planting vegetation as a barrier between properties or adjusting the population density of homes.

“[The project] could have been done in a way where the design more reflects the values ​​of our community, ”said Smith.

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