The Westport Zoning Board made quick work of approving the proposed Rolling Hills project.

"This is a momentous event," board Chair William Johnston said to open the recent meeting.

That was quickly followed by unanimous approval of a negative declaration that says construction of the private club and working farm would not result in a significant adverse environmental impact.

And all on the board approved the special-use permit needed for the project.

Rolling Hills, which will still need to submit final plans to the Zoning Board, is planned for the former Sandy Treadwell property.

Of the 1,229-acre parcel, about 62 acres will be developed, with the remainder kept as a working farm.

"This is the first time I have done something like this," marketing executive and project developer David Mann told the board. "It's been a pleasure, and I want to thank you for your thoughtfulness."

Attorney Tim Smith also represented the project at the meeting.

DESIGN IN PROGRESS

"We hope to get going before the frost and will work on infrastructure first," said Mann, sole stockholder. "There will be some renovations done to the present building."

Design of the farm will be done soon, he continued. The eventual goal will be for it to be multi-purpose, with both livestock and crops.

"I hope to have heirloom and organic crops, but it will take a few years to get it up and going," Mann said.

The farm, which is leased out this year, will sell its products locally, as well as to other outlets.

Phase 1 of club construction will include as many as 12 cottages and renovations to the current house. A parking lot will be made, as well as pathways to the cottages. Members will access the accommodations on foot, golf cart or by horse.

Provisions will be made for emergency vehicles, there will be a storage area and trash repository near the parking lot, and there is the possibility of a general store.

There will be no TV or Internet hookups at the cottages.

HILLS GO GREEN

There is no timeline for Phases 2 and 3, which would be developed on an as-needed basis. Phase 2 would include up to 10 additional dwellings, plus a recreation barn.

Rolling Hills membership will be by invitation, Mann said.

At least for the present, there are no plans to open any of the trails or other aspects of the farm to the public, though he said there might be a possibility of something being set up with Westport school and having bike paths.

Mann said insurance and liability would be factors.

It is expected that Rolling Hills will derive much of its energy from solar power used for electricity and hot water.

There will be a wood-burning stove in each cottage, with geo-thermal and bio-diesel being considered.

Email Alvin Reiner at:

rondackrambler@yahoo.com

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