Regelski Drive residents want their neighborhood saved from development

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:47

    WARWICK—There were whispers about three years ago. Rumors began to spread. Then, about two years ago, Fran Fay, a school teacher, answered a knock at her door. A man asked if he could walk her property. Of course, said the 30-year resident of Regelski Drive, a small cul-de-sac off Wheeler Avenue. "I didn't hear anything more until I got a registered letter from the town," said Fay. That was for a meeting in January to discuss the proposed 36-lot subdivision known as Cedar Ridge. The 137-acre property had been part of the Wheeler Farm, as did her Regelski Drive neighborhood. "We knew there would be development at some point," said Fay. What she and her neighbors didn't count on was that their cul-de-sac would become a through road for the new development. "We have six houses on Regelski Drive," said Fay. "That's about 12 cars. Kids play on the cul-de-sac. They ride their bikes after school. This is going to devastate our neighborhood." Thinking that the new homes will average two cars per house, Fay sees the neighborhood where her two daughters grew up changing dramatically. "Most of the houses on our street have little kids," she said. "Babies live here. We have a park bench on the circle. That is all going to change." The applicants, listed on the Planning Board agenda as Susan Wheeler and Others, want to build 36 homes on the property. They are already planning for a road to come off Wheeler forming another cul-de-sac. Fay and her neighbors wonder why that isn't enough. Why the need for two entrances to the development? "Our's is off Wheeler," said Fay. "I don't mind them building the homes. What I object to is them going through our neighborhood like this." Chris Melody is Fay's neighbor. He, too, made it to the Planning Board meeting to ask for a change in the plan. "Would you consider leaving Regelski Drive alone?" said Melody to the applicant's engineer, Kurt Rother. "This is a huge disruption to Regelski. This could be thought out a little differently." Rother, who was once a student of Fay's at St. Stephen's School, said this has been the plan for three years and they are not going to change it now. "We're not going to voluntarily change gears after three years," he said. Planning Board member Carl Singer, agreed, saying the board "likes the way it is." That was not what the neighborhood wanted to hear. The board granted preliminary approval to the project last week. Now the applicants have to get more approvals, including from the Orange County Department of Health for septic and wells. There is an easement between Fay's house and the neighbor's house. She planted trees when she moved in 30 years ago and paved a driveway, part of which is on that easement. Now, the pine trees, which provide both privacy and beauty to the neighborhood, will be cut down to make way for the new road. They were just one foot tall when she planted them. Now they tower 40 feet in the air. Most of them will go. Possibly one will be saved. "This won't push us out but it will certainly change our quality of life," Fay said. "I love it here. If you came out here and saw it, you have to wonder why would they destroy it?"