Now that the stay has been lifted with the settlement of the Article 78 proceeding, all eyes will be focused on the Amenia Town Board to see if they will have the courage to take the hard look that the Planning Board failed to take and stand up for their own zoning code in their forthcoming Findings Statement. The main issue of concern to a loosely organized collection of citizens is the view of and from Delavergne Hill as seen from Route 44 as it winds down the hill into Amenia. The view of that hill from many vantage points around town is of equal importance. A newly formed organization called the Wassaic Watershed and Viewshed Protection Project is pursuing multiple goals. As set forth in their organization papers, they are concerned with the Delavergne viewshed and threats to the water quality of the Amenia Cascade Brook and the Wassaic Creek. Amenia’s Comprehensive Plan specifies the protection of the Delavergne viewshed as a planning policy of the town. It is also specifically mentioned in the town’s Zoning Law that places that viewshed in the Scenic Protection Overlay District.
Site Plan approval is conditioned on a finding that the site plan will not significantly impair scenic character and will be aesthetically compatible with its surroundings. The Dutchess Land Conservancy and Dutchess County Planning, and the Amenia CAC, among others, have gone on record saying the development described in the Master Plan for the north side of Route 44 significantly impairs the viewshed and is not consistent with the town’s zoning law. That development includes a restaurant and parking lot at the top of the hill and 18 houses laid out along two levels of new roads, many visible from Route 44, Route 22 and other points.
The Housatonic Valley Association is one of the parties that has asked for more diligence and the adoption of more safeguards to protect water quality. Since the stream is designated by the DEC as a protected trout stream, it is entitled to added protections. Chemical runoff from herbicides, pesticides and sediments could potentially impact aquatic life.