Minutes of Development Review Board (DRB) April 28 site visit and first segment of Zoom-based hearing for natural burial ground within the Manitou project at 300 Sunset Lake Road.
Michael Mayer representing Higher Ground Conservation Cemetery Association
Development Review Board Members Present(
David Cotton Chairman; Walter Dadik, Secretary; Hendrik van Loon; Samantha Harlow; Lynn Forrest
Merle Tessier, Newfane Zoning Administrator; Ken Estey, Chairman Newfane Planning Commission; John and Linda Walker, abutters; Joshua Dillingham, abutter.
Abutters Testifying through Written Comment
Judith A. Strom; Gordon and Jean Bristol.
Proposed project is located in the resource district where natural burial grounds are a permitted conditional use. Any conditional use application requires DRB approval.
Mr. Mayer gave a short tour of the proposed 5 acre site which is currently undeveloped. He noted development for the cemetery would be as non-invasive as possible. Access would be via a right of way through the Walker property. The Walkers noted the right of way proposed by Mr. Mayer conflicts with their interpretation of its location.
Hearing: held remotely via Zoom
Mr. Cotton opened the hearing at 6:30 pm. and all who expected to testify were sworn-in. He said he would begin by asking for comments from Mr. Mayer and the abutters.
Mr. Mayer gave an overview of the project as described in his application.
The Walkers said they are concerned about the right of way from Sunset Lake Road to the proposed cemetery parcel. There are differences between their map and Mr. Mayer’s interpretation that must be resolved. They also worry about the effect of the cemetery and
related activities on the character of the area. (In addition to their oral testimony, the Walkers submitted written testimony which supplements these minutes as exhibit C.)
Gordon and Jean Bristol and Judith Strom submitted written testimony which supplements these minutes as exhibits A and B respectively. The Bristols endorsed the concept of a green burial ground but expressed concerns about the subdivision, compliance with act 250 and compliance with state cemetery regulations. Judith Strom endorsed the project.
Mr. Dillingham said he had no concerns about the project
Mr. Mayer said he values the character of the area and plans to work to maintain it. He and his attorney have also established a 501 C (3) corporation to govern the cemetery and insure compliance with applicable laws and regulations including act 250. He agrees the right of way issue must be resolved. He noted that he presented a large survey map to the Zoning Administrator with a clearer view of the right of way but it wasn’t included in the pre-hearing package.
Mr. Cotton asked Mr. Mayer to work with his attorney to resolve the right of way situation. Mr.
van Loon reminded the group that the DRB is responsible for conditional use review of the project;
but, the Zoning Administrator is handling the subdivision issue.
Mr. Mayer answered a number of questions about operations and policies to maintain the
area’s character. He didn’t mention specific rules and restrictions; but, cited his history of
maintaining the character and philosophy of the Manitou project.
Mr. van Loon made a motion that DRB close the hearing and adjourn to deliberative session.
There was no second.
Mr. van Loon then made a motion that the hearing be recessed and continued on Wednesday
May 12 at 6:30 pm via Zoom. The motion was seconded by Ms. Harlow and passed
Mr. Cotton recessed this session of the hearing for the project at 8:30 pm.
Newfane Development Review Board
Walter Dadik, Secretary
Abutter Testimony Letters
Exhibit A Gordon and Jean Bristol 4-22-2021
Exhibit B Judith A. Strom 4-28-2021
Exhibit C John and Linda Walker 4-20-2021