Village officials agree to hold another hearing in January on 600-home Clovewood proposal – Times Herald-Record

Posted By on December 5, 2020

Chris McKenna|Times Herald-Record

South Blooming Grove officials agreed on Friday to continue their public hearing on the 600-home Clovewood development proposal after a comment session the previous night ended in chaos and a split decision by two boards.

The Village Board and Planning Board, which are jointly overseeing an environmental review for the controversial project, fielded comments for a little over an hour Thursday night and were asked then whether to close the hearing and move to the next stage of the review after receivingfinal written comments.

That is when the proceedings conducted entirely by Zoom with several dozen viewers derailed. Unmuted viewers demanded the hearing remain open, drowning out an attorney who was trying to poll members of the two boards. Ultimately, the vote concluded with an unusual impasse: the Village Board chose to close the hearing andtake more written comments; the Planning Board voted to continue the hearing.

On Friday, Dennis Lynch, an attorney serving as special counsel to the village for land-use matters, said village officials had agreed to schedule a final public hearing in early January on the draft environmental impact statement for the project. He had said earlier that he would suggest they hold another session "to resolve any outstanding issues."

Among the objections voiced Thursday night was that the village initially announced the hearing would be held in person at the firehouse, where it held a previous comment session in August. Officials then shifted the hearing online with a notice on the village website, prompting accusations that they had skirted their notification requirements.

"Many older residents do not use computers and would not know," Blooming Grove resident Susan Blakeney told the boards. "This meeting should have been postponed."

MORE: Village schedules virtual hearing

MORE: Developer proposes 600-home project

MORE: Three new Village Board members elected in September

The Clovewood development would be built on the site of the former Lake Anne County Club, a huge tract off Clove Road and Route 208 and next to Schunnemunk Mountain. Planners have estimated the complex ultimately could house about 3,900 residents more than the village's current population if optional accessory apartments are built in every house.

Hearing speakers on Thursday raised concerns about the potential impact on groundwater, the Satterly Creek, traffic and the area's semi-rural character. Others pointed out the project was pitched as housing for the growing Satmar Hasidic community and questioned if selling homes to a single group would violatethe federal Fair Housing Act.

After holding another hearing in January, the developer and its consultants must respond to all oral and written questions in a final environmental impact statement. The two boards would then issue a findings statement as the final step in their review.

cmckenna@th-record.com

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Village officials agree to hold another hearing in January on 600-home Clovewood proposal - Times Herald-Record

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