Homes challenged by residents

ORANGE - Standing room only was left at the June 10 Inland Wetlands and Water Course public hearing on the proposed Orange Estates 25-house subdivision, to be built on 39 acres bordering Grassy Hill Road, Meetinghouse Lane and Ridge Road.

The attorney representing Toll Brothers Development Company, Bernard Pelligreno, told the commission that an agreement had been reached between the developer and property owner Norma Treat. The property has been in her family for over 200 years, Pelligreno said.

In a surprise move, residents of the Lake Wepawaug Association hired an independent engineer to study the plans and offer an opinion. The 33 homes surround the lake, and residents believe their homes and the lake they enjoy will be negatively impacted by the development. The engineer, Donald Ballou found some discrepancies including the piped storm water system has no subdrainage or flow calculation for numerous lots and many remarks on the storm water detention basins.

"The detention basins presented in the submittal have created the distinct possibility for failure of the dam … The liability for accepting such structures will rest with the Town of Orange under the 'deep pocket theory,'" Ballou wrote.

Association President Robin Williams spoke about the concerns his organization had - specifically sediment and fertilizer runoff.

"People who buy $650,000 homes want green lots. Where does it go - down the hill straight into our lake? We're going to have to buy a lot of weed killer for the lake," Williams said.

And not only will vegetation be affected by the development, but wildlife too.

In the Wildlife Assessment, conducted by Ecologist Jodie Chase, she wrote;

"The site provides excellent habitat for a variety of amphibians, reptiles, songbirds, small mammals and deer. The plant diversity offers excellent food sources while the density of the vegetation provides seasonal cover and nesting opportunities."

Chase then lists an inventory of herbivores including chipmunk, rabbit, squirrel, woodchuck and deer. Plus carnivores like the red fox, striped skunk and raccoon.

In her inventory of birds she includes turkey, red-tailed hawk, downy woodpecker, blue jay, crow, nuthatch, woodthistle, cardinal, sparrow warblers and ovenbird.

Ralph Okenquist expressed his concern for the neighboring residents.

"People have real concern for the potential sediment. Is there anything the town can do about this?"