Strange days in Bethel; Lumberland development has an entrance in neighboring town
Jennifer Teitelbaum, who lives in The Chapin Estate, said, “From the very beginning three members of the board felt it was not in the Town of Bethel’s interest to meddle in the Town of Lumberland. We weren’t asking you to speak at their meetings, all we wanted was some information … Something strange is going on.”
Supervisor Dan Sturm said, “I agree there is something strange going on… when there’s a good project, in my opinion, and people at every meeting are throwing mud at it.”
A bit later, council person Vicky Vassmer-Simpson said, “I’m tired of being told that there’s something strange going on in the Town of Bethel, with me, because there’s nothing strange in my life right now, at least nothing more than usual.”
They were talking about the board’s support, or lack thereof, for a new phase of the development of The Chapin Estate, which is a proposed subdivision with 43 lots. The unique or, some might say, controversial part of the project is that the development is in the Town of Lumberland, but the only two roads into the development are in the Town of Bethel, and one of those roads was blocked for several years as various parties argued in court over whether the public had a right to use the road.
Sturm said the potential homeowners would spend time in the Town of Bethel and shop in stores in the town. He said that the project is good for both towns and the county, and that The Chapin Estate developer, Steve Dubrovsky, has a solid track record. Sturm added that early on he was against sending a letter to Lumberland asking to be an involved or interested party because he didn’t think it was the right thing to do. At the town meeting on May 22, however, he asked the board to send a letter of support for the project to the Lumberland Planning Board.
Council member Denise Frangipane said, “This has never been about Chapin, this has never been about the developer, this has never been about the potential homeowners who may or may not build houses in this project. Absolutely the more people who come to Bethel and support our businesses, the better off we are. But to send a resolution in support of a project without even raising the consideration of potential impacts [on the Bethel road into the development], which is all we ever asked to do, is ignoring the needs of this community, the residents. We should be part of the discussion.”
The board voted three to two to send the letter of support with Frangipane and Bernie Cohen voting no.
Smallwood resident Bob Barrett, who battled for years to get the blocked road re-opened, questioned whether the road could be used by drivers to get to the development because of the state of the road. He added, “There’s a huge sign out there that says private road, no motorcycles, no ATVs, no snowmobiles. To my knowledge motorcycles are licensed, they pay fees, they pay insurance, they’re allowed to travel that road, and yet there’s a sign that appears there that tells them they can’t do that.”