SARATOGA SPRINGS — Eight years after John Witt, president of Saratoga Springs-based Witt Construction, proposed a 111-acre conservation subdivision in the Town of Saratoga, the town’s Planning Board has granted preliminary approval of his long-imagined, 31-home community.
The property comprises 103 acres that Witt purchased from Saratoga Springs’ Bethesda Church, a three-acre parcel he also owns, and five adjoining acres for which he has an existing purchase agreement. In total, 111 acres are included in the recent preliminary approval.
“I love the location and want to make it my next home,” said Witt. “Phyllian’s Bluff is going to be a phenomenal landscape, which we’re going to beautify and protect as a thriving, healthy environment featuring custom homes.”
He said that 61-plus acres of the land will be forever-wild green space, within which no building will take place. The land already features a farmhouse and historic barn surrounded by fields of rye and flowers. The long-term plan is to create an agricultural site including a vineyard, cut-flower farm, and thoroughbred breeding.
“This will be one more enhancement to a community that already offers year-round attractions,” said Witt. “The vineyard will be a visitor’s dream and an asset to our local economy, both bolstering agritourism and as another amenity for residents.”
The vineyard is set to grow New York grapes of different varieties. Witt also said that the working vineyard and farm will create job opportunities.
“Old Tavern Farm is expanding its agricultural businesses. We have 2,000 vines on order that will be planted in May and will grow our winery operations to meet the capacity of the additional vines. This site is also home to our 24,000 cut flowers that we plant each season to supply local farmers markets and businesses in our community. In addition, we will be expanding our thoroughbred breeding operation with additional pastures and facilities,” says Nicole Borisenok, owner of Old Tavern Farm Winery. “By the time we are done, it will be a beautiful farm and agricultural site. We are proud to be good stewards of the land and preserve Saratoga County history by continuing the 160 years of farming on this site.”
The Town of Saratoga’s provisional approved includes provisions such as:
• All lots will have an on-site supply of water via wells and sanitary sewer collection. This requires a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SPPP) and a stormwater management program (SMP).
• No tree removal shall be permitted on the lots during construction of roads.
• All work that affects pruning, thinning, or felling of trees shall be supervised by a certified forester or arborist and be submitted to the Town of Saratoga for approval prior to action.
• An evaluation shall be conducted as to the archeological significance of the site.
• In his erosion prevention plan, Witt has designed “ecologically aware,” appropriate mulching, as well as two cul-de-sacs and ditches to collect rainwater. Additionally, where the land is overgrown with scrub plants, Witt said he hopes to plant fruit-bearing trees.
Additionally, Witt Construction will leave all materials from forestry activities on the steep slopes, including felled trees and brush to be “as vertical to the steep slope as possible.” The few lots that include steep slopes have additional stipulations.
Very limited crown pruning of the trees shall be permitted over a 10-year period. Witt said he will be working with the Town of Saratoga in the execution of the project.
Homes are planned to be clustered in three areas; only one plot is on less than one acre, but it abuts forever-wild land. The clusters of custom homes will be in cul-de-sacs and each will be designed to fit well within the natural landscape and reflect the lifestyle and ideals of the owner.
Witt says clients have already expressed interest in locating their homes on Phyllian’s Bluff.