NPS concerned about ridgeline development

By TOM KANE

DAMASCUS, PA — The superintendent of the National Park Service is concerned about a plan by a Narrowsburg developer who wishes to build 11 homes along the Delaware River in Damascus Township, PA a short distance north of the Narrowsburg bridge to Pennsylvania.

The project will be called Blue Stone Mountain Estates.

The developer, Robert Wiegers, is also the owner of a similar development called Eagle’s Nest Estates, a controversial plan for a series of homes along the Delaware River ridge, five miles south of Narrowsburg on Route 97.

The NPS expressed its concern at the Damascus Planning Commission meeting on December 20.

“We are only in conversation with the Damascus Planning Commission,” Wiegers said. “We have not yet completed any plans. There is a lot of work to do before we will present a plan. The township has a two-acre minimum lot size. These homes will be on five acres or perhaps seven to 12 acres. The homes are going to be high end.”

Weigers said that only three or four homes out of the 11 will actually be on the ridge. The others will be located on the other side of the mountain, he said.

“So far, the developer has only expressed his intention to build,” said Damascus Township Planning Commission chairman Ernie Matern. “He hasn’t presented any plans yet.”

“We are not against building homes on the ridge per se,” said David Forney, NPS superintendent. “What we are concerned with is how the construction will be carried out. We have been concerned about ridge-top development and how it is carried out for a number of years now. What we want to do is preserve the rural character of the river valley.”

Forney said he and his agency are against the practice some developers have of cutting down excessive numbers of tree around the houses. He also stated that, if there is development on the ridge, the developers should paint the houses with neutral or earth-like colors, so that the homes don’t destroy the “view shed” of the ridge.

Weigers had promised before the Tusten Planning Board three years ago that he would put deed restrictions on any contract with a buyer, limiting the amount of trees to be cut down and directing a builder to paint the homes in neutral earthy colors. “I intend to keep my word on that and have the same deed restrictions on these homes as well,” he said.

So far, three properties have sold at Eagle’s Nest Estates and no construction has taken place.