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Planning board votes on Five Rivers proposal

Engel acknowledged that "everyone was in favor" of the land deal, including neighbors who want to keep the land forever wild, and town residents who want to hike to Five Rivers.

However, he said, "Neither side is willing to compromise."

"I hope something can happen," Engel said, "but at this point in time there's not much point" in continuing the standoff.

McCarthy said she voted against both the proposal's acceptance and the recommendation to the town board because of the parkland resolution that required access on Fisher Boulevard.

"That parkland resolution was the reason I voted against it because she might withdraw the deal," McCarthy said. "I understand the point about the access but I think it's a nice chunk of land for the town."

McCarthy said she hoped the access situation could be mitigated in order to move the project forward and preserve the 24-plus acres of land after Richards' was rumored to threaten selling the property to a developer.

However, after the vote came against the protests of several neighbors of the property, Bakner indicated Richards' would be dropping the deal altogether.

Open Space Institute (OSI) sent a letter to Bethlehem dated Monday, Nov. 17, the day before the meeting, saying the access was necessary to move forward.

Bakner said OSI "changed their position" and said Richards was disappointed by the entire situation, which Bakner described as a very generous offer to the tune of $50,000.

When board member Kate Powers asked what the opposition to the plan was, Bakner said "She does not wish to provide public access along lot number 45."

Bakner told the board that after hearing news of the planning board vote, Richards "most likely will not move forward she feels very strongly about this."

"She believes that her request is reasonable. All the lots are double the size and some are triple, four or five times the size of the requirement," Bakner argued of the proposal. "This is rather disappointing to get this [OSI] letter the day before or the day of this meeting."

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