My name is Mary Graetzer and I have been a resident of the Town of Tuxedo for 37 years which is even longer than this project has been before the Town! It seems to me that the longer the application goes on, the more questions arise. I know that some of that is a natural phenomenon but there are several questions that I feel need to be answered before this project moves on to the next stage -- construction.
For example……Mountain Lake. Under the 2004 Special Permit, Mountain Lake was identified as a major wildlife corridor and as such no building was planned for the area – it was to be used for open space and “passive recreation.” However, under the new plan…..there are 49 houses proposed for Mountain Lake, not to mention a “stone beach”, a boathouse and a Club of some sort. That doesn’t sound very passive to me. The DSEIS states that “The Proposed Modifications discussed herein would enhance the Project’s protection of environmentally sensitive lands…by relocating certain development to less-sensitive areas, such as the Mountain Lake area….” As far as I can tell, the applicant has never identified just where the “environmentally sensitive lands” they are proposing to protect now are…..so it’s a little hard to judge whether or not they are more environmentally sensitive than the Mountain Lake area.
The applicant outlines several “alternatives” to the newly proposed plan. One is to simply build the project as approved in 2004. They have been pretty forthright in admitting that there are deficiencies in that plan although usually when making that point they are arguing that the Town Board wouldn’t want them to develop the original plan because of the adverse impacts that would occur. Related received their Special Permit for 1,195 units in 2004 in the middle of what was a “hot” real estate market. Those conditions continued until about the middle of 2008. Given the market conditions, I have to believe that if Related could have built Phase 1 of their project, they would have. There was obviously some impediment to doing so……could it have been regulatory impediments imposed by another agency such as the DEC in regard to wetlands and vernal pools? Or…….did they discover that site conditions such as steep slopes and rock outcrops made the project fiscally unworkable? If the reason was, as they state in the DSEIS, just to avoid environmentally sensitive lands, why then did they need to change the housing mix so dramatically, making more than a third of the proposed units multi-family? The applicant has failed to identify just what are the “adverse impacts” to which he is referring.
A second alternative involves moving development to land that would be acquired through a land swap with the PIPC and there are no indications that the PIPC is amenable to such a swap.
I believe there may be a third alternative which the applicant never proposes…….how about lowering the number of units built? Nothing in the Special Permit says that Related is required to build all 1,195 units!
You as a Town Board are charged with reviewing the DSEIS and the amendments and determining what will be good for the Town. What is good for the developer is not necessarily what is good for the Town. Related needs to identify the specific areas of concern as well as what the adverse impacts are if they were to develop as originally proposed. They also need to be candid about what areas of the plan would not be developed by the applicant due to regulatory, fiscal or other impediments. Otherwise…..how can you as a Board truly compare what would happen under the proposed amendments as opposed to what would occur under the approved plan?
Let’s face it…….market conditions are still not great and it is doubtful that construction would start straight away even if these amendments are passed. There is time therefore. Time to discuss and time to negotiate. This development is billed as the largest ever in Orange County. It will impact our Town and our lifestyle forever. Once this project is built………it can’t be “unbuilt.” If it turns out to adversely affect the Town. Please take the time now to make sure that you are getting the deal that is best for the Town.
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