Bethel resident Brian Walters has a message for Toll Brothers – “Re-tree the ridge.”
Toll Brothers is the developer of the Summit at Bethel, a community housing project currently under development at 10 Great Hill Drive. When complete, the development will boast 232 town homes nestled in both retirement age-restricted and non age-restricted villages. The community is located on top of one of Bethel's tallest peaks, which might be part of the problem for Walters and other concerned residents.
Walter lives about a mile away, as the crow flies, from the development. He said that over the past few years the company has been “clear cutting” the trees on the ridge surrounding the property.
“The clear cutting and massive retaining wall has completely ruined our view of Shelter Rock Mountain six months out of the year,” he said.
During an April 24 Planning & Zoning Commission, Walter submitted a petition calling for the Toll Brothers to replace the trees that were cleared in the development of the Summit housing project.
“The petition was started because I was really appalled at the wanton destruction of the tree line,” Walter said. “I have been in contact with the town since they first started cutting the trees down on that site several years ago. While the town listened to my concerns, I felt that a petition would have much more weight and I knew that there were a lot of other area residents that were just as bothered by the clear cutting. Currently we are close to 100 signatures.”
Walters added, “I'd just like to see the areas that were clear cut replanted with mature 15 to 20 foot tall trees to soften the now harsh view of these condos. They are perched only mere feet from the cliffs edge. Hopefully the developer will be a good neighbor and address this issue in a timely manner.”
He continued that the current view of the development has hurt Bethel's rural aesthetics.
“We don't want our town losing it's small town charm, as that project sits now, Bethel is looking more and more like White Plains, and not the charming little town I have spent my life in,” he said.
Daniel Masterson, the project manager for the Summit at Bethel, responded by email to a request for an interview but said he was unfortunately too busy this week to discuss the Summit and the re-tree the ridge petition.
Beth Cavagna who is a staff member at Bethel's Land Use Department said that Walters submitted the petition at the last town meeting
“The petition was submitted and the Planning and Zoning commission is waiting for a formal response by Toll Brothers. Hopefully we will have that by our next meeting on May 22.”
That meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the Bethel Municipal Center.
Walters worried that the lack of trees on the property could cause more problems than ruined views.
“Replanting isn't just needed for aesthetic reasons,” he said. “Trees also help prevent run off which on that site is extremely important considering that there is protected land on one side and housing on the other. Neither would be able to handle the excessive amount of run off if we have another bad winter or torrential downpours.”
Walter added he was optimistic that the outcome of the petition would result in a mutually beneficial outcome.
“I look forward to working with the developer and hope that they are good neighbors that care about our town and community and not just the all mighty dollar,” he said.
Walters is seeking signatures for his re-tree the ridge petition at www.ipetitions.com/petition/re-tree-the-ridge/signatures/page/2