Just beyond the tranquil shores of Skaneateles Lake, a fierce debate, four years in the making, is reaching a boiling point.
Skaneateles neighbors packed the tiny Town Hall building tonight for the first of many public hearings about the future of a 46-acre piece of property located on one of the state's most pristine lakes. The property's owner, College Football Hall of Famer and former Syracuse star turned Atlanta Falcon and author, Tim Green, hopes to develop the property into a family compound and subdivision.
The subdivision would be comprised of 17 lots carved out of the existing expanse of forest, farmland and shoreline. According to Green's planners, construction for homes, roads and recreational space would be limited to just 3.4 acres of the 46-acre Loveless Farm Development that runs along both the east and west side of Route 41A or West Lake Road.
Many neighbors, however, object to the plan, raising concerns over potential damage to both the local environment and the rich history of Skaneateles.
"Through school I learned all about the creation of the Finger Lakes and how they're an incredible resource for the area for fishing, tourists and watershed," said ESF graduate and local architect Alex Belding. "The whole area has kept its character through zoning and only through strict enforcement of that zoning policy can they maintain the area. If they let this go through, it's going to set a precedent for every other lot that they'd like to develop and that's really painful to see."
Many worry that runoff from construction and development will pollute the lake, which is currently a source for unfiltered drinking water for nearby towns, including Syracuse. One major point of contention centers around a 200-foot bridge that would cross a forested ravine and service Green's lakefront property.
"[Green] is going to take that raw land, divide it into building lots and sell those, hopefully, at a financial gain," said Skaneateles resident Jim Moore. "This bridge would be built for solely one home. It's not servicing anything more than one person's home and I don't feel like that personal benefit should exceed the adverse environmental impacts."
Though Green's contractors insist that the environmental impact of their plan would be minimal, town planners will ultimately have the final say on the development of the land.