VALATIE—In July of last year the Kinderhook Town Planning Board heard from Howard Fingeroot of Sun Communities about a glamping (luxury camping) resort. Though there was no application yet, Mr. Fingeroot and his associate said “that while the company is large and has many properties nationwide, their interests are in local endeavors,” according to the minutes from the July 2021 meeting.
A plan was submitted to the Planning Board by the company and their engineers at Atwell Group early this year for a resort concept at 58 Orinsekwa Road in the hamlet of Niverville. The resort would be on the shores of Knickerbocker Lake on a site zoned R3 (residential), where camps are permitted with a special use permit which could be granted by the Planning Board.
Sun Communities, Inc, presented an overview to the town saying they have 589 properties across 38 states with 152 “glamping” and RV resorts. According to their Sun Outdoors website, they are a “collection of vacation lifestyle resorts” that “inspire closer connections with family and friends in natural surroundings. Over the past year, we’ve added new experiences so travelers of all ages can find adventure in surprising places, from the Florida coast to Maine to Southern California.”
The minutes of the January 2022 Planning Board meeting show that representatives from Sun and Atwell presented the scope of the proposed resort concept in Kinderhook, which would include a 2,500 sq. ft. clubhouse, pool, fitness and food and beverage area with indoor and outdoor seating. The plan also includes 90 units on approximately 71 acres. The units are of different types, with one called the “Treehouse,” which is elevated, and in the images they each have bathrooms and kitchenettes.
“There would also be a 1,500 sq ft welcome center with offices and bathrooms and 2,700 sq. ft. maintenance building,” according to the January minutes.
Also according to those minutes, “the code is vague in the definitions and the proposed use does not fit neatly into one of the categories. Bungalow colonies and hotels were also discussed. Density and lot coverage was also addressed and thought to be well under the requirements.”
‘Year by year, things change.’
Atwell director of development
Later, at the April Planning Board meeting, the company representatives were back and stated that there were some changes to the site “to accommodate the conserved area of the lot and noted there would be no impact to that area.”
They also said that the proposal has been referred to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Health (DOH) for review, and a traffic study was briefly discussed.
Engineer George Schmitt, representing the company, requested a public hearing be scheduled but the Planning Board thought that there is still a lot of design work to complete and they might not have all the answers the public is seeking. “However, it is important to receive public comment and feedback as early as possible” and so a motion was made to schedule a public hearing on May 19. The public hearing is still open.
At a June 16 meeting, the meeting room in the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building was full with neighbors of the proposed site, most voicing concerns about the project. Atwell Director of Development Spencer Crabb presented a long list of questions and answers about the project from the May 19 meeting before the public hearing was opened up to more comments.
The site would employ about 30 people during the season, which would start around Memorial Day and end around Labor Day, weather permitting. “Year by year, things change,” said Mr. Crabb.
The guests will be able to use paddle boards or canoes from the resort on the lake. And the four property owners with easements to use the lake would continue to have those easements.
Lighting at the site would be minimal. A fence will be installed along the train tracks near the property.
Mr. Crabb pointed out that the site has been a camp for a very long time. According to what was said at the meeting, it was a camp from the 1927 to late 1970s. Most recently the lake was used for swimming during the town’s summer recreation program.
Residents still had concerns about trespassing, traffic at the entrance to the site and how many people will use the lake, among other issues.
“It’s a very small lake,” said resident Linda Hacker.
Resident John Zukowski had several questions, and pointed out that the site was a camp 50 years ago and there are a lot more houses in the area now. He asked the company, “What happens if this fails?”
Another resident voiced concerns about the people coming in and out of the site on Orinsekwa Road off of Route 28, and the possibility of legal actions if there are accidents there.
As for the entrance, the company did say they worked with the county to review the traffic study and the entrance. According to their information the county “determined that the site distance will be suitable with limited tree removal on the west side of Orinsekwa Road.” Mr. Crabb also said during his report that a backup on the road because of the site was “very, very unlikely.”
There was talk about screening at the site, the septic and water issues, electrical lines, and where the garbage would go.
The board closed the discussion but is keeping the public hearing open. The next Planning Board meeting will be July 21 at 7 p.m. at the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building.
For more information on the project go to www.kinderhook-ny.gov
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email