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Rose Hill subdivision may move forward

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MASSENA — Rose Hill Foundation soon may proceed with a plan to sell vacant lots near its village facility.

Foundation officials several months ago announced plans for a new baseball diamond and soccer field for patients at Rose Hill, an adolescent drug and alcohol treatment center. Rose Hill is situated on 200 acres at the northwestern corner of the village, and the foundation planned to subdivide nine parcels near the front of the property on County Route 43 to pay for the athletic fields.

Those plans soon may come to fruition, according to foundation Treasurer W. John Davis. Rose Hill may begin selling the lots later this fall and working on the fields before winter, if all goes according to plan.

Before moving forward, foundation officials needed subdivision approval from the St. Lawrence County Department of Health and the village Planning Board and Board of Trustees. The county’s approval is the only one remaining, Mr. Davis said.

The Planning Board gave the proposal the green light, contingent on final approval from the Board of Trustees. The Health Department would not approve the project until the village board did.

Foundation officials said they thought a waiver from the Board of Trustees exempting them from hooking into the village’s water and sewer systems would be necessary. Village code requires any property within 100 feet of a water and sewer connection to be hooked into the system.

Officials said that cost would be too cumbersome and would wipe out any profits from the property sale, necessitating the waiver.

But at last week’s meeting, Mayor James F. Hidy said the waiver was not necessary. Once subdivided, the lots will be beyond 100 feet from the nearest hookup, he said. The village also was not legally able to grant such an exemption, Mr. Hidy said.

“If you’re looking for a waiver, we can’t give it to you,” Mr. Hidy said. “It’s a moot point right now, as far as the village stands.”

Instead, the village board voted 4-1, with Trustee Timothy J. Ahlfeld dissenting, to instruct Mr. Hidy to write a letter to the county Health Department explaining the village’s position — that it could not grant a waiver but did not oppose the subdivision.

“The village board was fair with us,” Mr. Davis said. “We needed a letter stating they realized we don’t need a waiver.”

“Hopefully, the letter will sway the Health Department to give us the OK,” Mr. Davis said.

“You don’t have it in the bag until you get that approval.”

Mr. Ahlfeld said he dissented out of concern that allowing a subdivision to avoid hooking into water and sewer could set a bad precedent.

“Where do you draw the line?” Mr. Ahlfeld asked. “I don’t know if I want to go there.”

A couple of neighboring County Route 43 homeowners already have expressed interest in buying the lots, Mr. Davis said. Those individuals will get first pick.

“We want to be good neighbors,” Mr. Davis said.

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