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issued to the Catskill Mountain Railroad allowing it to put new tracks on land in the hamlet of Phoenicia has been rescinded following complaints by a neighbor of the 2.5-acre site.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