ELDRED, NY — In the end, no one was in opposition to the Catskill Mountains Resort receiving a special-use permit to operate a bar, restaurant and hotel/motel/family resort. Getting there, was …
ELDRED, NY — In the end, no one was in opposition to the Catskill Mountains Resort receiving a special-use permit to operate a bar, restaurant and hotel/motel/family resort. Getting there, was a different story.
During the one-hour public hearing and meeting held on July 28, the Highland Planning Board heard that for the five years that the resort has been in business on Mail Road, there were no formal complaints. They heard from patrons who said that the resort was an asset to the town. They heard about the community functions that the resort held throughout the years. And they heard from neighbors who wanted to go on record that they suffered harassment after complaining last summer that the resort, which had closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, reopened as a summer camp for girls and then stayed open beyond that.
“My family has lived in the area all our lives, and I’ve lived on Mail Road for 78 years,” Linda Anderson began. She said that starting just before COVID-19, she and her neighbors suffered from constant abuse from the owners who “allowed what happened through the course of COVID and 2020. I just wanted to say my piece. I’m a member of several organizations. We’ve gone there; we supported the restaurant there. But what we endured by the owners was total harassment and I don’t want to see that happen again.” Other neighbors expressed similar sentiments.
Their message landed securely with planning board members Jeff Spitz and Norm Sutherland, who voted against issuing the permit. With Doreen Sweeney absent, and alternate Steve Bott, filling in for member Chris Tambini, who reclused himself, there were two votes for and two votes against.
In voting against the measure, Sutherland said, ”Part of our job here is to represent the town, and with the neighbors being upset, I think at minimum we should have another meeting.”
Spitz said that one of the values that the board needed to consider in granting a special use permit is the effect on the neighbors. “What can be done to have peaceful co-existence?” he asked.
The resort owner’s attorney, Jeff Kaplan, responded. “My clients just want to open a hotel and abide by all the rules. If there were any harassment, we would lose our liquor license. And we would have to close the bar.”
Michael Davidoff, attorney to the town, intervened. He assured the board that the special use resolution was subject to getting any and all of the needed permits. “They have to obtain, whether it’s from the state, from the town, from the county, from the federal government, all necessary permits.”
Still this was not enough for Spitz.
“Do you want to put something in the conditions of the permit?” Davidoff asked him.
“Yes I do,”
Davidoff then dictated the following condition: “The applicant agrees to refrain from any instances of harassment in its operation. This pertains to the neighbors and anyone using Mail Road.”
With the additional language, Spitz changed his vote to a yes. The measure passed 3-1.
The audience broke out in applause.
“This is the first step not the last,” Kaplan said. “The owners have to receive all of the necessary permits, from the town, county, and state.”
With the issuance of the special use permit, those steps can now be taken.
At the meeting’s conclusion, planning board chairman Berry Hafkin seemed pleased with the process. “In the end, we followed the law, and took care of the resort’s neighbors.”