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Wed., Sep. 17
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Lowville property cleared though no development plans in works, owner says

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LOWVILLE — When a large patch of woods in the middle of the village was suddenly leveled, neighbors were surprised and had questions.

Renee Gilbo, whose Shady Avenue home sits adjacent to the now-empty lot, approached three construction workers and asked what was going on.

“They said they were putting in a trailer park and then they said maybe a Pizza Hut,” she said. “I said, ‘Seriously?’ but they said, ‘No, we’re just leveling it.’”

Mrs. Gilbo suspects the owner, V.S. Virkler & Son, is preparing the land for some sort of business.

“We voted down an apartment complex here years ago. ... If they do build something, we’re going to plant trees,” she said, pointing to her property line.

“We’ve been here for 30 years,” she said. “What used to be here was really nice. It was cover for birds. There were does here and cute little fawns in the spring.”

“Now, it’s all gone,” she said.

Mrs. Gilbo estimated about 6 acres used to be heavily forested. Only a few trees remain.

When reached for comment, company President Joseph L. Virkler said V.S. Virkler & Son has been “mowing and trimming the hedges.” He said the site improvements will help the company see what it has.

“It’s right here in the village; it’s got to be worth something,” he said.

Mr. Virkler also joked about a trailer park or Pizza Hut, but acknowledged, “We have no plans right now, but we’d like to develop it someday.”

So far, V.S. Virkler & Son hasn’t submitted any plans to the village Planning Board, but also didn’t apply for a required State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System general permit for stormwater discharges from construction activity.

“Any time more than one acre of land is cleared, a construction stormwater SPDES permit is needed,” said Stephen W. Litwhiler, state Department of Environmental Conservation citizen participation specialist.

Mr. Litwhiler said that V.S. Virkler & Son did not apply for such a permit and that those involved in the construction stormwater program would look into the matter.

Mr. Virkler said his logger did not make him aware he needed the permit.

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