Gan Eden Returns: February 2022

Developer Presents New Environmental Impact Study
by John Conway

MONTICELLO, February 2022 – The town of Thompson Planning Board has received submission of a new Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) from the developers of the proposed Gan Eden Estates housing project slated for construction at the top of Columbia Hill in Hurleyville.
The new DEIS was part of the agenda when the Planning Board met in person and via ZOOM on Wednesday, January 26 at the Thompson Town Hall.
As it is currently conceived, the Gan Eden project calls for 534 rental units in 89 separate structures, and about 2.5 miles of paved roadways on the 212-acre site that was once home to the Columbia Hotel. Water for the development would come from new or existing wells and a 41-foot tall, 400,000 gallon water tank. A packaged sewage treatment plant is proposed for the all-electric development.
Developers say the project will provide much needed affordable workforce housing for this section of Sullivan County, and fully complies with Thompson’s zoning for the parcel on which It is proposed.
The Planning Board, which prior to receipt of the new DEIS, had last heard from the Gan Eden developers approximately 18 months ago, has scheduled a work session for 9 a.m. on Wednesday, February 16 to go over the new DEIS. Unless the Planning Board asks for revisions or additions to the plan, it would then be made available for public inspection and comment for a specified length of time, after which a public hearing on the project would be held.
Although public comment was not permitted at the January 26 meeting, a number of members of the Columbia Hill Neighborhood Alliance (CHNA) attended, some in person and others via ZOOM. The group was organized in 2012 in response to two developments with a total of more than 1000 units that had been proposed for Columbia Hill and vicinity at the time, and it has continued to monitor all proposed developments in the area. CHNA maintains that the Gan Eden project, even in the scaled-down version now being presented, “would deplete our water supply, greatly endanger our streams and wetlands, dramatically alter our rural environment, and undermine the safety of the roads for all drivers in the area.”
The CHNA’s concerns are more fully outlined in a separate piece in this edition of The Sentinel.