By Gwendolyn Craig
The shores of Great Sacandaga Lake, the man-made water body in Fulton and Saratoga counties, could become an RV destination as two campground proposals make their way through the Adirondack Park Agency’s review. Neighbors living next to these currently undisturbed swaths of land are leery of the projects, and some have hired attorneys and filed a legal complaint.
The two proposals include a 300-unit RV park in the Town of Mayfield and a 26-unit RV park in the Town of Broadalbin. They are about seven miles apart at the southern end of the lake. The Mayfield proposal is currently an incomplete application with the APA. Part of the project is outside the Blue Line. The APA deemed the Broadalbin proposal, which is entirely within the park, complete. It is out for public comment through March 10.
Attorneys Claudia Braymer and Ben Botelho are representing residents from both Mayfield and Broadalbin as the towns, APA and other state agencies review the RV park applications. In letters to the APA on both projects, the Braymer firm said its clients are concerned about increased noise, traffic, wildlife and water-quality impacts.
Click here to comment: https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/ApaCommentPopup.cfm?ProjectNumber=2020-0142 . Comments may also be mailed to Bart Haralson, Adirondack Park Agency, P.O. Box 99, Ray Brook, NY 12977.
Mike and Lorraine Bogdan of Peacock Properties applied to the APA in July 2020 for a 75-unit seasonal RV park on the south side of Union Mills Road in Broadalbin.
In August 2020, 19 neighbors wrote a joint letter to the APA that they were “totally opposed to the project proposal. A major project such as this will forever alter the rural non-commercial characteristics of our neighborhood, which we enjoy and wish to remain.” Several others submitted their own comments against the proposal. An APA records request did not turn up any comment letters from residents in favor of the project.
APA records show several notices of incomplete applications over the years. The Bogdans whittled their application down to 25 RV lots and one rental cabin. They also nixed plans for an amphitheater and restroom facility, while keeping a proposed 10,000-square-foot barn to host weddings, family reunions and other events.
Residents have continued to write the APA with concerns.
Over the summer, Myron Kuchark, Evelyn Kuchark, Kimberly Cummings, Shauna Traskos and Tracie Kuchark filed a lawsuit against Peacock Properties in state Supreme Court in Fulton County. The complaint alleges Peacock Properties’ pond has flooded the Kuchark’s property next door causing “a substantial portion of plaintiffs’ lands” to “become swamp and a great number of trees have died and the soil is otherwise destroyed.”
The plaintiffs want the Bogdans to install a ditching and drainage system and pay for damages.
In a December letter to the APA, the Bogdans wrote Mike Bogdan “went over like a good neighbor and tried to settle the problem,” and they planned to address the water overflow.
Myron Kuchark, 79, said he filed the lawsuit to get the flooding issue resolved before the RV park project moved forward. He hoped to reach an agreement with the Bogdans soon.
Kuchark’s grandfather bought the land around 1920, and it has been in the family ever since. He said he is concerned that the RV proposal doesn’t fit with the character and use of the land. He is skeptical of the APA board and its concern for the environment, he said, after it approved a subdivision around Woodward Lake in Fulton County just west of Great Sacandaga Lake and north of the RV park proposals.
Kuchark said he didn’t want to judge the board prematurely regarding the Peacock Properties proposal.
“They should welcome all the input,” he said. “We’re just hoping they make a fair decision.”
In a letter to the APA, the Braymer Law Firm argued the event barn should be a separate and distinct use from the RV park. It also believes the event barn is an incompatible use for the APA’s rural land use classification. The firm also said that until the Kuchark’s litigation is resolved, “the APA should refrain from further review or approval of the project.”
The Adirondack Explorer reached Mike Bogdan by phone, but he referred questions to his wife. Lorraine Bogdan did not return calls for comment.
The Bogdans wrote APA staff several letters addressing their neighbors’ feedback and highlighting how their proposal is one-third the number of RV spaces compared to their original plan.
“We plan on using our pristine lands, natural habitat and beauty as a benefit and treat to share with our future guests,” the Bogdans wrote the APA. “We have 88+ beautiful acres and are only developing less than 5 acres.”
The town of Broadalbin planning board is awaiting the APA’s decision before issuing its approvals.
The Winney family has submitted its application for a 300-lot RV park about seven miles west of the Bogdans on Woods Hollow Road. The town of Mayfield planning board has kept a January public hearing open and continues to accept comments before it makes a decision on accepting a site plan.
Lane and Jamie Winney, the property owners, and daughter, Kalei Winney, received a $200,000 award in December from Round 11 of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. The reimbursement grant is through Market New York and may be applied toward construction, supplies and engineering expenses.
The Winneys propose an RV park and campground on Woods Hollow Road that will include a boat launch on Great Sacandaga Lake. In their APA application, they identify the Town of Mayfield’s Comprehensive Plan of 2013 that said the area was lacking “adequate tourist accommodations.” The Winneys’ application “suggests that the proposed Woods Hollow RV Park is exactly what the 2013 Comprehensive Plan contemplates for a new RV Park in the Town.”
The Winneys have not responded to the Explorer’s multiple requests for comment.
Their proposal has received heavy pushback from residents. Several dozen people attended a public hearing in January that had been delayed months due to meeting notice mistakes.
The Explorer filed a freedom of information law request with the town for the written testimonies and public comments submitted. About two dozen comments were against the project as presented. About a half dozen were in favor of the project.
Kalei Winney wrote a letter to the board following the Jan. 19 hearing. Her family owns and operates an existing RV park in Northville called Dun’ Loggin’ campground. In the last five years, Kalei Winney has managed the campground store, but hopes to someday manage the Woods Hollow location, she said. Many of the families that camp at Dun’ Loggin’ are long-time customers, who use the campground as a second home. Some of the commenters against the RV park have made assumptions “based on rather absurd stereotypes they have of people who camp,” she said.
Two neighbors to the Dun’ Loggin’ campground wrote in support of the Woods Hollow RV Park. One, Joseph Moran, said he lives directly in front of the Northville campground and the property is “clean and neat” and quiet at night.
The Winneys also have the support of the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth, records show.
In its $200,000 award announcement, the Regional Economic Development Council said the campground “will increase tourism to the Mohawk Valley. This project will provide a safe and affordable getaway for families who want to reconnect with the outdoors while creating last memories.”
One local resident, Matt Kieley, was not only against the project proposal but also alarmed at how the planning board conducted the Jan. 19 hearing.
Kieley wrote the Winney family and their engineer gave a 25-minute presentation while residents were given 3 minutes to speak “and almost every resident who had prepared remarks were cut short.” Officials running the meeting treated residents as though they were an “angry mob,” Kieley said.
Kieley also called the town’s comprehensive plan “outdated,” and suggested the planning board bring a third party in “to fully understand what risks this project brings.”
“I believe this project is very short-sighted and will profoundly and negatively impact our community and the lake for many years to come,” Kieley added.
Carol Ellis, who lives on Woods Hollow Road, wrote concerned about the traffic and public safety.
“I truly feel the obstructions this park will generate will in fact change the outcome from a crisis to a devastation simply because the pathway to help was knowingly voted to be compromised,” Ellis wrote. “This is in your hands and you have the responsibility to do your homework.”
The Great Sacandaga Lake Association also wrote the planning board that the majority of its members did not support the project and wanted more information about potential water-quality impacts.
In a notice posted on the town’s website, Fulton County Senior Planner Aaron Enfield said he would continue to accept comments mailed to [email protected] or to Fulton County Planning Department, c/o Town of Mayfield Planning Board, 1 East Montgomery St., Johnstown, NY 12095.
The Mayfield Planning Board did not convene in February, but it is expected to hold its next monthly meeting on March 16.
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