August 02, 2006

No Free Skate For Buckskill Plan

They spent a summer night thinking about winter. Last week members of the East Hampton Town Planning Board took a look at the site plan/special permit application for the Buckskill Winter Club. The bottom line, according to board member Bob Schaeffer? It's not an application that's going to skate through without some tweaking.

Last winter a skating rink use at the tennis club on Buckskill Road rapidly became one of the town's most popular venues for family fun. Neighbors, however, complained of noise from the generators used to keep the ice cold and parking that spilled over into the residential neighborhood. A threat of closure surfaced and was quickly rescinded in the face of overwhelming community outcry.

The deal brokered between town officials and club proprietors Doug and Kathryn DeGroot includes achieving planning board approval for improvements needed to create the ice rink use.

Last Wednesday night review of the couple's application continued. Schaeffer who is the board liaison for the application reported that while members feel the rink is "a good use and a much needed recreation facility for the town of East Hampton" a variety of issues need to be addressed before the board can green light the project. Parking and lighting details still remain in need of refining, he said.

Back in November, when the application was discussed, board members expressed concern about how the applicant will ensure the groundwater is protected from potential impacts from the ice rink and chilling equipment. Members learned last week that the DeGroots plan to install a plastic liner under the ice. Additionally, according to the staff memo prepared for the discussion, the ice is potable water. The refrigerant used to keep the ice chilly is "food grade" glycol. Planners asked for still more detail in the form of a comprehensive description of the process involved in making and maintaining the ice, as well as what happens when the rink closes at the end of the season.

Planner JoAnne Pahwul concluded her assessment of the application noting the planning board can't act until the Zoning Board of Appeals grants a variance for lot coverage. Under the town code 30% total coverage is allowed. The proposal calls for almost 60%.

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