Town pulls rail­road’s per­mit for track work

The in­stal­la­tion project was to take place on a 2.5-acre par­cel in the ham­let of Phoeni­cia.

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jay Bra­man Jr. news@free­manon­line.com

SHANDAKEN >> A per­mit is­sued to the Catskill Moun­tain Rail­road al­low­ing it to put new tracks on land in the ham­let of Phoeni­cia has been re­scinded fol­low­ing com­plaints by a neigh­bor of the 2.5-acre site.

The code of­fi­cer in the town of Shandaken, of which Phoeni­cia is a part, pulled the per­mit last week.

The par­cel where the tracks were to be in­stalled is at 71 Sta­tion Road in Phoeni­cia and is owned by the rail­road, which op­er­ates scenic train rides. The land is north of tracks owned by Ul­ster County.

The Catskill Moun­tain Rail­road has, for years, of­fered train rides on coun­ty­owned tracks from Mount Trem­per to Phoeni­cia, but its lease ex­pired ear­lier this year, and the route is be­ing taken over in 2017 by a rail bike op­er­a­tion cho­sen by the county. The rail­road will con­tinue to of­fer train rides in the Kingston area.

The county gave the rail­road un­til Dec. 15 to re­move all of its trains and equip­ment from the tracks in the Mount Trem­per-Phoeni­cia area. Along the way, the rail­road tried to ob­tain a per­mit from the town of Shandaken to build a large struc­ture on the land in ques­tion but was thwarted by neigh­bors who hired an at­tor­ney to com­bat the ap­pli­ca­tion. Then, last month, the rail­road tried a dif­fer­ent plan, which led to se­cur­ing a per­mit that read, “The ap­pli­cant has been granted this per­mit in ac­cor­dance with the re­quire­ments of fed­eral, state and lo­cal Laws with re­gards to de­vel­op­ment in a Spe­cial Flood Haz­ard Area. The work that is to be per­formed is as fol­lows: Post-flood re­me­di­a­tion and cleanup of de­bris; grad­ing and veg­e­ta­tion re­moval; in­stal­la­tion of land­scape fab­ric, bal­last, ties and rail.”

But fol­low­ing com­plaints by site neigh­bor Anique Tay­lor, town code of­fi­cer War­ren Tutt re­vised the per­mit on Nov. 23.

“Based on my fur­ther re­view of the ap­pli­ca­tion that was sub­mit­ted to this of­fice ... I have determined the per­mit is­sued to you was is­sued in er­ror and re­quires mod­i­fi­ca­tion,” Tutt wrote in a let­ter to the rail­road. “The per­mit has been mod­i­fied to only per­mit cleanup of the prop­erty, in­clud­ing grad­ing and de­bris re­moval as­so­ci­ated with such cleanup.”

That means the rail­road can’t put in new tracks to which it had planned to move trains and equip­ment that cur­rently are on county-owned tracks.

Rail­road Pres­i­dent Ernie Hunt said he will meet with county of­fi­cials this week in hopes of se­cur­ing an ex­ten­sion of the Dec. 15 dead­line.

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