© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Zoning Board halts proposal for 90-acre Getaway House development in Columbia County

A Getaway House "cabin" illustration on the getaway.house website
A Getaway House "cabin" illustration on the getaway.house website

Getaway House Incorporated says it offers city-dwellers a chance to escape to the countryside by booking a short stay at one of its campsites.

The company planned to set up shop in the Town of Claverack, hoping to situate 38 tiny houses mounted on trailers on Evergreen Estates along State Route 23. Residents objected, arguing that the development on the 90-acre parcel of rural conservation land would constitute a permanent hotel, versus a seasonal campground. Property-owner Richard Cross wrote a letter to the Board of Zoning Appeals recommending Getaway House Incorporated take over the land.

But some townsfolk resisted, dismissing it as "glamping" in a cabin with running water and other utilities, all the while knowing there are a host of other amenities and services available on the grounds.

Several "glamping" companies have already set up shop in upstate New York, and rentals can go for anywhere between $125 and $400 a night.

Neighbors including Michael McGuire say they were told a laundromat would be constructed near their property for campgoers’ use.

"And that goes with that drawing from the water table. Where does that waste go," said McGuire. "And, of course, also associated with that was the fact that each of these cabins would have a campfire. Up to 50 campfires that are unsupervised. There's nobody on site to oversee how these campfires are being properly maintained, you know, right next to our working farm. It's a multigenerational farm. Never had to think about anything like this happening before. And the folks who we assume would be coming to stay in these cabins, you know, are unfamiliar with the area, you know, we don't know exactly what they may be doing there. So there we had concerns around their, you know, wandering onto the property, are they bringing firearms on the property because they're having their upstate experience?"

The Town of Claverack Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday decided that the proposed applicants use submitted by Getaway did not meet the definition of a campground. Resident Catherine Lord applauds the ruling.

"First of all, it's a beautiful piece of land," said Lord. "That getaway was trying to say would not somehow by some sort of a miracle of wishful thinking, be affected by the addition of 50 tiny wooden cabins. Um, so, I guess I'm breathing a sigh of relief, because it means that this kind of sort of intense commercial development would not happen on rural conservation land at the end of our road. And I think that I, my partner and everybody else on the road, were really concerned that getaway as a business model that didn't really have supervision of the site that was proposing to suddenly up a pine forested, highly flammable rural conservation area and put a whole lot of cabins on it to be used by people who had no idea about wildlife and fire dangers, and so forth."

Getaway has the option to appeal the board's decision. Cross, who has owned the property for more than 20 years, tells WAMC if Getaway walks away, Evergreen Estates will go back on the market. Cross is now 75 and says he has "retired into farming" in Northeast Pennsylvania.

A Getaway spokesperson says the company does not have any comment.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
Related Content