Patsy Wooters, Chair Torne Valley Preservation Association
DSEIS public hearing for Tuxedo Reserve october 26, 2009
I live in the Village of Suffern, which is in the Town of Ramapo in Rockland County. As a resident and taxpayer of those two, I respectfully ask that as lead agency for Ramapo and Rockland, the Tuxedo Board consider what I have to say.
1. Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS Combined.pdf)
While Related terms this the SEIS, in fact it is the DSEIS as it includes not response to public input.
Chapter 5 - Natural Resources page 5-8 states “wetlands elsewhere on the site that had previously been proposed for development would be protected. Therefore, the Proposed Modifications would not have the potential to generate any new significant adverse impacts to wetlands.” Clearly mistakes were made in planning this project in the past or we wouldn’t be here today. If such happened with respect to wetland disturbance, which is likely, that should not mean mistakes may continue around Mountain Lake. This is faulty reasoning.
On the same page the section under Wildlife states “species are generally tolerant of limited human activity as long as undisturbed habitat would remain. ... [I]t is anticipated that wildlife species would likely continue to utilize the surrounding undeveloped uplands.” So the argument here is that Tuxedo Reserve would be sited within thousands of acres of unfragmented forest, and so taking wildlife habitat is justified. What has been preserved at considerable public expense does not mitigate loss here.
Figure 5-6 shows wildlife connectivity. However, the Design Guidelines: Landscape Regulating Plan p. 62 shows high density urban development on the corridor. Fig T-4.2 (p. 54) illustrates this density of housing. I live in such an urban area. I can attest to the fact that there is no such diversity of wildlife in my backyard. There would not be in the so-called wildlife corridor in Tuxedo Reserve if it were built.
Chapter 6 Hydrology and Stormwater Management on p. 6-5 the report states that “Since the overburden (e.g., soil), where present, characteristically generally exhibits low permeability, the rate of groundwater recharge afforded to the underlying bedrock is expected to be typically low. Likewise, infiltration of groundwater directly into the bedrock is low except where bedrock fractures are directly exposed at grade.” This begs the question that construction would expose bedrock fractures and thus allow pollution to be rapidly introduced into the ground water. Note that the HEnRI map showing bedrock fractures is only a limited schematic as fine resolution is not shown. Fissures mapped for Sterling Forge and Torne Valley show far more frequency.
Also on p. 5 the report states that “the accumulated water in the lake is ‘perched’ atop underlying bedrock of very low permeability with limited fracture occurrence.” This is the same thinking that led to the Torne Valley landfill and its millions of dollars in mitigation.
Chapter 8 Alternatives p. 8-6 states “Given the rugged terrain of the LIO parcel and the limited viability of neighboring existing commercial facilities on better suited lands, development of the LIO land into commercial property is speculative and may never occur....” What else is speculative, but offered as fact here?
2. DSEIS Appendices (SEIS Combined.pdf)
In Appendix A on p. 5 the Technical Memorandum states “The Proposed Modifications include a proposal to allow the direct discharge of clean stormwater into the Ramapo River, a fourth order stream. In the event that the waiver to allow direct discharge is not approved by the Village of Sloatsburg and the Rockland County Drainage Agency, the Applicant has developed an alternative design which includes the installation of a detention/recharge basin along Quail Road in Sloatsburg, which would be required to meet all state and local requirements for stormwater detention.”
On October 1 a couple of us from Torne Valley Preservation Association met with Scott Cupper at Region 3 DEC, who said categorically there is no more direct discharge. Detention basin is an outdated term. Under MS4 regulations for urban development, retention basins are required, though they only remove 80% of systemic solids and 60 % of phosphorus, not matching water quality on undeveloped land. Also the TR homeowners association would be responsible for maintaining this retention basin, which means regularly removing the retained sludge and disposing of it. I hope that the fiscal analysis factored in this cost when estimating the sale price of homes.
Page 5 of the Technical Memorandum refers to Smart Code, which is a misnomer, as smart growth entails development around public transportation hubs. This project would promote sprawl into territory with topographical challenges making it especially vulnerable to loss of wildlife, pollution of ground water, flooding, and traffic, to say nothing of financial complications. Use of the word “smart” is a smoke screen when used in conjunction with building in the mountains. Look at the projects on Sterling Mine Road, look at Pomona, look at Stony Point. Smart is not the first word that comes to mind.
Page 10 of the Technical Memorandum states that alleys “can be particularly effective in reducing driveway entrances to the street which can improve street parking conditions. It also allows for garages to be located in the rear of properties, which improves the streetscape by eliminating the sight of cars parked in driveways....” Could it be that Related is in denial that this is a car centered, sprawl promoting project in the 21st Century? Adding to impervious surfaces by incorporating alleys in such challenging topography would unnecessarily add to stormwater runoff.
The stormwater management plan allows for either direct discharge from Tuxedo into the Ramapo River, or a retention basin on the Sloatsburg parcel. As direct discharge of stormwater is no linger allowed by federal law, a retention basin in Sloatsburg would be required. How would it be possible to build a retention basin large enough to serve all the run off from over 150 acres of impermeable surface area since of the Sloatsburg land is Army Corps of Engineers wetlands or steep slopes?
On p. 24 under Natural Resources in the Section relating to Endangered, threatened and Special concern species the memorandum states that “Wildlife surveys of the Southern Tract, including the Mountain Lake area, did not identify the presence of any threatened or endangered species. However, six species of special concern were found on the Project Site, including marbled salamanders, Jefferson salamanders, spotted turtles, worm snakes, red-shouldered hawks, and a Cooper’s hawk.” In fact wildlife surveys did reveal the presence of a rattlesnake. Is the coverup coming back to life? Also will the Town of Tuxedo require the Related Companies to file the report of the rattlesnake that was eaten with the NYS Natural Heritage Database? It is my understanding ruling out rattlesnake habitat would necessitate radio telemetry studies of dens adjacent to the property. Anything less is a guess.
I have read the list of vertebrates in Appendix D natural resources. There is no such biodiversity in my backyard and there will not be were this project to go to completion. With the sixth great extinction already begun, I question the wisdom of taking such bio-diverse terrain for development.
3. Planned Integrated Development Preliminary Plan (Preliminary Plan Combined.pdf)
The Regulating Plan Fig. 1-8 (p. 5) excludes Sloatsburg, but Sloatsburg would have the main entrance to the development. Sloatsburg has approved only one road, there are now three. Also on May 27, 2009, the Related Companies made a subdivision application in Sloatsburg which is not reported here.
The Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan Fig. 5-1 (p. 17) does not show either direct discharge or a retention basin in Sloatsburg and so it is incomplete. Stormwater run off from such a vast project on steep terrain will be critical to manage.
4. Draft Special Permit (Draft Special Permit Resolution.pdf)
Article XXII Tuxedo Reserve Homeowners Association list of responsibilities includes “(1) owning and managing lands and facilities owned in common by Tuxedo Reserve residents (including the jitney service) (2) instituting a permit process for the trail system and (3) ensuring continued compliance with the Project’s guidelines and performance standards.” In addition they will have to maintain roads and that retention basin. I would hope that all these have been factored into the estimate sale price of the houses. The question is what assurance will Tuxedo have that these will indeed be made legal obligations of the homeowners? The developer of the offering plan at Pierson Lakes has ammended the plan unilaterally. Also what will happen if the homeowners association cannot afford to fulfill its obligations? Again with Pierson Lakes, the developer has stiffed the HOA to the tune of one million dollars. What protection will be provided for Tuxedo taxpayers in this situation?
I speak for well over 14,000 people who have signed petitions calling for the protection of the Ramapo Mountains - during the campaigns to save Sterling Forest, Torne Valley, Sterling Forge, and Ramapo Highlands. Finally were you to allow this project to go forward, I suggest that you require a humongous performance bond.
I will end with a quote from the introduction to the June 2009 report of the Department of Agriculture Forest Service - Forests, Water and People:Drinking Water Supply and Forest Land in the Northeast and Midwest United States.
“Forests are critically important to the supply of clean drinking water in the Northeast and Midwest portion of the United States. In this part of the country more than 52 million people depend on surface water supplies that are protected in large part by forested lands. The public is generally unaware of the threats to their water supplies or the connection between clean water and the extent and condition of forest lands in source water watersheds. The future security of water supplies will not be ensured by a focus on water treatment alone. Protecting and managing forests in source watersheds is an essential part of future strategies for providing clean, safe drinking water that citizens can afford”
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