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TOWN OF TUXEDO
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Recent Town News
Town Council (Town Board)

Tuxedo Union Free School District
Town Planning Board
Town Zoning Board of Appeals

Subdivisions and Development

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Link to the Tuxedo Land Trust Website

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Proposed Material Changes in Tuxedo Farms

One of the changes currently proposed by Tuxedo Farm’s is a change in approved construction materials to include, among other things, the use of Vinyl Siding.

The Developer created a “mock-up” using some materials that have been proposed, and this is on display at their property, located where the Applewood Kennels once stood.

Residents are encouraged to take a look prior to the Public Hearing on September 25, where they will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on this proposed change to the Town Board.

For those residents who are unable to visit the site, below are photographs of the mock-up.

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Bruno’s Buildings Take Shape In Sloatsburg, Anchoring Area Revitalization - 4/11/17

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Public Hearing - Tuxedo Management Company - December 22, 2016

The Orange County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) held a public hearing on Thursday, December 22, 2016 at 11 am in Town Hall.  The subject of the hearing was the project proposed by the Tuxedo Hudson Mgt. Co., LLC, which encompasses the old IGA building as well as the former Tuxedo Junction.  The company has applied to the IDA for financial assistance in the form of sales tax abatement and a PILOT program, which would keep their current real estate taxes where they presently are without an increase.

Increases during the proposed 10 year PILOT would be at 10% per year.  The project hopes to eventually create 59 new fulltime jobs.  No action will be taken on this application (with the IDA) until the SEQRA process for the project has finished.  Cathy Morris, representing the Tuxedo Hudson Mgt. Co. said they hope to be before the Tuxedo Planning Board as early as January. 

The IDA is hoping to hear from the Supervisor and Town Board with their comments about the project.   They will be accepting public comment on the subject of the tax breaks applied for for 15 days.  Comments can be mailed to them at: 4 Crotty Lane, New Windsor, NY 12553 or via email through their website at: http://www.ocnyida.com/contact-us/

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Tuxedo Sloatsburg Corridor project making progress - 12/23/16

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Michael Bruno’s Tuxedo Hudson Co. wins Mid-Hudson Economic Development grant for Sloatsburg/Tuxedo revitalization effort - 12/22/16

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Tuxedo Hudson Company Notice of Public Hearing - December 22, 2016

Click Here to View

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961 Acres of Undeveloped Land in Tuxedo Protected - 12/20/16

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961 acres donated to Tuxedo for public recreation - 12/20/16

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Preservation - 12/20/16

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How To Take Action To Oppose The Pilgrim Pipelines - November 29
Posted 11/22/16

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Orange County IDA accepts tax break application from Tuxedo developer - 11/18/16

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Letter: More negative effects of pipeline project - 9/22/16

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Mogul Sees Organic Farm As First Step To Reviving Lost Towns - 8/22/16

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VIDEO: Transforming Tuxedo into 'gateway to the Hudson' - 4/4/16

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One man's vision: Transforming Tuxedo into 'gateway to the Hudson' - 4/4/16

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Tuxedo Farms Development Rips Off Mountain Top - 3/16/16

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Tuxedo Hudson Company Kicks Off Corridor Campaign - 2/5/16

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Tuxedo Farms project process moving forward - 5/11/15

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Clarification of Conservation Easement Requirement Northern Tract – Tuxedo Farms Development

NOTICE
Clarification of Conservation Easement Requirement
Northern Tract – Tuxedo Farms Development

          The proposed Amendment to the 2010 Special Permit for Tuxedo Farms, formerly known as Tuxedo Reserve, would clarify that the Town of Tuxedo is a permissible recipient (donee) of the Northern Tract.  The Applicant has taken the position that this was permitted by the 2010 Special Permit.  The proposed Amendment clarifies that this is the case.

          The proposed Amendment retains the requirement that any such donation must be subject to a Conservation Easement acceptable to the Town.  This requirement would not affect a donation to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.  Thus, a donation of the Northern Tract to the Town would be subject to a Conservation Easement.

          The fiscal impact of this Amendment is neutral based on potential yearly property taxes:

                   Current Taxes:                                   $15,000
                   PIPC Taxes:                                       $  1,500
                   Conservation Organization (501c3): $    -0-

          Thus, the donation to the Town would have the same fiscal impact as a donation to a charitable conservation organization as currently authorized by the 2010 Special Permit.  The potential taxes from PIPC are minimal.

          The Special Permit requirement is set forth in Article XVIII, Open Space (Page 29) of the red-lined Special Permit posted on the Town Website.  This is the applicable regulatory section of the Special Permit.

          It was brought to the attention of the Town that a parallel provision of the findings in the adoption resolution (Page 11) contains language which is in error as it does not conform to the regulatory provision in Article XVIII of the Special Permit.  We regret this error.  The proposed Amendment of the Special Permit being considered by the Town Board would retain the requirement of a Conservation Easement for all recipients of the Northern Tract, except the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

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Tuxedo Gets Local And Turns Its Attention To Tuxedo Farms - 3/5/15

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Town OKs LDC for Tuxedo Farms project - 1/9/15

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Town creates special district for massive Tuxedo Farms - 12/29/14

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Tuxedo Gets Back To Real Life After Casinos Pass Over Orange County - 12/19/14

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Three Casinos To Be Built In New York....NONE In Orange County - 12/17/14

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Genting Proposes New Thruway Exit - 12/15/14

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Genting to Conduct Balloon Test December 18

Balloon Test to be conducted by Lanc & Tully Engineering and Surveying PC on December 18, 2014 for eight (8) consecutive hours between 7:00 AM an 4:00 PM. Rain and/or wind dates (wind over 10 mph) will be December 19, 2014. The balloon test is intended to approximate the maximum height of the proposed Sterling Forest Resort, for purposes of determining from what vantage points the resort would be potentially be visible during leaf-off conditions. If you want to be part of the community viewing team please contact Sona Mason, NYNJ Trail Conference SMason@nynjtc.org pr 201-512-9348 ext16

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Group claims deed restriction will end Genting's casino bid - 12/8/14

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All The Casino Dreams Won't Last Much Longer - 12/8/14

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Harsh words for Tuxedo casino environmental-impact report - 12/5/14

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Study predicts less traffic, revenue for Tuxedo casino - 12/4/14

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Understanding the Casino Environmental Review - What Have Our Experts Found?

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Tuxedo residents' lawsuit dismissed - 11/25/14

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Judge dismisses Tuxedo group's casino lawsuit - 11/25/14

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Pataki opposes casino at Sterling Forest that he helped preserve - 11/24/14

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Bats Could Stop Tuxedo Casino - 11/17/14

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Sterling Forest Resort DEIS Shows Casino Impact - 11/17/14

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Casino decision at least 10 days away - 11/11/14

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Tuxedo Town Board says Genting's environmental impact statement is complete - 11/11/14

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Genting submits impact statement for casino - 11/10/14

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Sterling Forest Resort - 10/21/14

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A Disputed Casino Plan for a New York Forest - 10/21/14

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Support for Genting's casino proposal in Sterling Forest - 10/13/14

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Don't Gamble Away Sterling Forest - 10/8/14

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Conservationists, Genting agree to scrap award ceremony - 9/30/14

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Conservation group to honor Genting Americas - 9/26/14

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Recruiters used to boost Genting crowd - 9/25/14

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Casino question: Are you being paid to speak? - 9/24/14

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Casino hearing: Crowd puts its chips on the line - 9/24/14

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12-hour casinos session looms - 9/22/14

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Coming up: Sterling Forest Resort casino plan - 9/21/14

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Editorial: Time for casino foes to make the best case - 9/21/14

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Genting Americas denied road access - 9/17/14

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Tuxedo board approves $100k for more consulting work - 9/15/14

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Environmentalists to fight casino in Tuxedo - 9/15/14

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Genting says its Tuxedo resort casino would be an international destination - 9/10/14

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Genting says its Montgomery casino is the 'best regional option' - but it would rather build in Tuxedo - 9/10/14

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Genting says it would pay $380 million premium for a license in southern Orange County - 9/10/14

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A Rich Plan in New York’s Casino Race Is No Sure Thing for Cuomo - 9/9/14

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GENTING DETAILS POSSIBLE TAX BILL - 9/8/14

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Questions surround Greenwood Lake mayor's affiliation with Tuxedo casino project - 8/21/14

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The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Voices Strong Opposition to Proposed Sterling Forest Resort in Tuxedo, New York - 8/21/14

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Genting VP: Sharing makes sense - 8/21/14

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Housing developer pitches recreation facility for Tuxedo - 8/18/14

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Tuxedo to hold meeting on Sterling Forest casino plan - 8/18/14

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Balloon test will show Tuxedo casino’s height - 8/11/14

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Sterling Forest environmental advocates object to casino location - 8/5/14

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How a casino proposal came to Tuxedo - 8/1/14

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Tuxedo Documents Environmental Study For Sterling Forest Resort - 8/1/14

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Tuxedo Farms Slowly Imagines Itself Into Real Life - 7/29/14

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Officials fear proposed New York casino could taint New Jersey water - 7/29/14

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Genting Americas' Tuxedo projection is 6.9 million visitors annually - 7/24/14

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No Dice - 7/18/14

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Genting promises $10M to Tuxedo Park if casino gets OK - 7/9/14

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Town of Tuxedo Host Community Agreement with RW Orange County LLC

Click Here to View a .pdf of the Agreement

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Village of Tuxedo Park Letter of Agreement with RW Orange County LLC

[RW Orange County Letterhead]
June 26, 2014
Village Board of Tuxedo Park
80 Lorillard Road
Tuxedo Park
New York 10987

Attention: David DuPont, Deputy Mayor

                                    Re:  Letter of Agreement

Dear Deputy Mayor DuPont:
This letter sets forth certain understandings between RW Orange County LLC (“RW”) and the Village of Tuxedo Park (the “Village”, together with RW, the “Parties”) with respect to RW’s application to the State Gaming Board for a gaming license under the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act of 2013 (the “Application”) to develop and operate a destination casino resort (the “Project”) in the Town of Tuxedo (the “Town”), which encompasses Tuxedo Park.

In connection with the development and operation of the Project in the Town, the Town and the County of Orange (the “County”) will substantially expand their tourism base by providing services and overnight accommodations for visitors as part of a balanced economy and will expand the tax base of the Town and the County.  Further, the Village Board recognizes the uniqueness of the Project, the qualifications of RW and the opportunity the Project represents to the Village.  For these, and other reasons, the Village Board believes that the development and operation of the Project in the Town would have a positive impact on the Village and is in support of the Project. 

Subject to the passage of the resolution (the “Resolution”) substantially in the form attached hereto at Exhibit A and the continued support from the Village of the Project, and provided that the Village does not take any action that is inconsistent with its support of the Project set forth in the Resolution, RW agrees to pay the Village $10 million (the “Project Payments”) for the Village to use as it sees fit in furtherance of and to accomplish Village improvement projects (the “Village Projects”), such as those set forth on Exhibit B upon the occurrence of the events set forth on Exhibit C; provided that the cost of any mitigation measures that are required by the SEQRA process in connection with the Project which also constitute Village Projects shall be borne by the Village, and, if amounts therefor are paid by RW, the Project Payments shall be reduced dollar for dollar by such payments.  

This letter shall be construed and enforced in accordance with and be governed by the laws of the State of New York.  The Parties hereby irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal and State courts in New York City in connection with any action relating to this letter, and waive to the fullest extent permitted by law, any objection to such venue and any claim that such forum is inconvenient.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have executed and delivered this Agreement in counterpart originals as of the date first written above.

RW Orange County LLC, a Delaware limited liability corporation


By:                                                                                         
Name: Christian Goode
Title:   President

 


Village Board of Tuxedo park

 

By:                                                                                         
Name: David DuPont
Title:   Deputy Mayor

 


EXHIBIT A
RESOLUTION – VILLAGE BOARD OF TUXEDO PARK, NEW YORK IN SUPPORT OF THE APPLICATION TO DEVELOP AND OPERATE A DESTINATION CASINO RESORT ON LAND LOCATED ADJACENT TO NEW YORK STATE HIGHWAY ROUTE 17A IN THE TOWN OF TUXEDO BY RW ORANGE COUNTY LLC

On a motion by ____________________,
Seconded by ______________________, the Village Board resolves the following:

WHEREAS, on March 31, 2014, the New York Gaming Facility Location Board (the “State Gaming Board”) issued a Request for Applications to Develop and Operate a Gaming Facility in New York State (the “RFA”) pursuant to The Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act of 2013; and

WHEREAS, RW Orange County LLC, an affiliate of Genting Americas Inc., has entered into contracts relating to purchase of land in the Town of Tuxedo, County of Orange, known as Tax IDs 1-1-52.25, 1-1-36.32, 1-1-59.2, 1-1-52.26 and 1-1-37.2 on the Orange County website (the “Project Site”).  The Project Site is situated on New York State Route 17A approximately two and one half miles northwest of the intersection of New York State Route 17 and New York State Route 17A; and

WHEREAS, RW Orange County LLC, its affiliates and principals, are qualified applicants with substantial experience in financing, developing and operating entertainment, restaurant and gaming facilities; and

WHEREAS, RW Orange County LLC has stated an intent to file an application with the State Gaming Board in response to the RFA (the “Application”) seeking a license to develop and operate a Gaming Facility, with a hotel and other amenities, including retail space and entertainment venues (the “Gaming Project”) on the Project Site.  As a condition of filing its application with the State Gaming Board, RW Orange County LLC is required to demonstrate community support for its application; and

WHEREAS, the Village Board has discussed matters relating to the potential location of certain types of gaming or casino facilities in the Town of Tuxedo which encompasses Tuxedo Park; and

WHEREAS, the Village Board recognizes the uniqueness of the Project Site, the qualifications of RW Orange County LLC and the opportunity the Gaming Project represents to the Village; and

WHEREAS, by encouraging the development and operation of the Gaming Project at the Project Site by RW Orange County LLC, the Town of Tuxedo and the County of Orange will substantially expand their tourism base by providing services and overnight accommodations for visitors as part of a balanced economy and will expand the tax base of the Town and the County.  For these, and other reasons, the Village Board believes that the development and operation of the Gaming Project at the Project Site would have a positive impact on the Village; and

WHEREAS, any such project, even if approved for a license by the State Gaming Board, would still be required to comply with the local planning, zoning and environmental review process for all appropriate approvals in order to ensure the protection of the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the community; and

WHEREAS, the Village recognizes a land owner’s right to develop and has no opposition to development, as long as the development is a responsible one that complies with the all applicable laws and ensures proper protections of our cherished resources and that the public interest is protected; and

WHEREAS, the support of the Village Board is contingent upon the negotiation and finalization of (i) a Host Community Agreement between the Town of Tuxedo and RW Orange County, LLC and (ii) a letter agreement between the Village of Tuxedo Park and RW Orange County, LLC relating to community benefits to the Village of Tuxedo Park, all on or prior to June 30, 2014; and

WHEREAS, the Village Board is in support of the Gaming Project and RW Orange County LLC’s Application to the State Gaming Board for a license to develop and operate the Gaming Facility at the Project Site; and

NOW THEREFORE IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that in furtherance of the above goals, the Village hereby agrees to the location of the Gaming Project on the Project Site within the Town of Tuxedo, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Village Board of Tuxedo Park supports the Application to be filed by RW Orange County LLC with the State Gaming Board for the development and operation of the Gaming Project on the Project Site and supports and encourages the development and operation of the Gaming Project on the Project Site by RW Orange County LLC and its successors and assigns, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Resolution is intended to satisfy the eligibility requirements of NYS Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law §
1314(2) and specifically to satisfy the condition of local support for the gaming license applicant, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Village Clerk is hereby directed to forward a copy of this resolution to the State Gaming Board and the Clerk of the Town of Tuxedo and moves its adoption.


 

ROLL CALL VOTE:

AYE

NAY

[    ]

 

 

[    ]

 

 

[    ]

 

 

[    ]

 

 

[    ]

 

 

 

MOTION CARRIED

The foregoing resolution was thereupon declared duly adopted on June 26, 2014.


 

Exhibit B
List of Village Projects


No.

Projects

1

New Village of Tuxedo Park Department of Public Works Facility

2

Village of Tuxedo Park Roads and Infrastructure Upgrades

3

A new water line providing water to the East Village residents

4

Wee Wah Dam Rehabilitation Project

5

Village of Tuxedo Park Sewage System Remediation

6

Restoration of The Keep/Village of Tuxedo Park Gateway

7

Upgrades to the Wee Wah Beach Club, Village Boat Club, New Bathrooms

8

Related Northern Tract + Outparcel/turn into the Village of Tuxedo Park


Exhibit C
Schedule of payments

  • RW shall make the following payments to the Village, upon occurrence of the following events:

a.         $4,500,000.00, within three Business Days following the first date (the “Commencement Date”) on which both of the following have occurred:  (i) the State has awarded RW a Gaming Facility License with respect to the Project and (ii) the Village is not in violation of the terms hereof;
b.         $3,000,000.00 on or before the first anniversary of the Commencement Date; provided that all approvals necessary for RW to commence and continue construction of the Project remain in effect, RW is not legally prohibited from continuing with the development of the Project and the Village is not in violation of the terms hereof; and
c.         $2,500,000.00 on or before the second anniversary of the Commencement Date; provided that, all approvals necessary for RW to open the Project to the public or to continue construction, as applicable, remain in effect, RW is not legally prohibited from opening the Project or continuing with the development of the Project, as applicable, and the Village is not in violation of the terms hereof.

 

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Tuxedo, Genting Americas casino OK benefits pact - 7/2/14

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Big Gambling In A Small Town. - 6/29/14

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Tuxedo Park trustees back casino - 6/27/14

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Tuxedo Votes 4-1 To OK Genting's Plan - 6/26/14

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Tuxedo board ignores foes, OKs plan for gaming resort - 6/25/14

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Tuxedo Moves To Meet NY Gaming Commission June Deadline - 6/24/14

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Tuxedo Works On Host Agreement For Genting Resort Plan - 6/19/14

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Jehovah Witness World HQ project moving forward - 6/18/14

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Tuxedo Board says yes to casino plan - 5/13/14

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How Do You Do Development In The Woody Ramapos? - 5/13/14

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Town of Tuxedo votes in favor to build 238-acre casino near Sterling Forest - 5/13/14

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Hudson Valley town approves company's casino plan - 5/13/14

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Tuxedo debates casino plan - 5/8/14

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Tuxedo crowd changes tune about casino - 5/1/14

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Genting International's Sterling Forest Casino Proposal - 5-1-14

Tuxedo is a buzz with debate this week over the proposed casino resort in Sterling Forest.

If you have not had a chance to attend one of the public meetings, please take a moment and visit this website, where you can view the developers sales-pitch video along with a photo gallery and location plan.

http://www.rwnewyork.com/sterling-forest-resort

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Where will the roulette wheel stop? - 5/1/14

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Introducing Sterling Forest Resort in Tuxedo - 4/29/14

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Latest casino entrant proposes glitz in Tuxedo - 4/28/14

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Johovah's Witnesses Plan Construction at International Paper Site

March 2012

Watchtower has come before the Town Planning Board with a plan for the former International Paper Property, which involves transforming the facility into a “working living and worship facility for members of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ religious order. Under the proposed plan, roughly 500 Witnesses would live on site while they provide assistance in the construction of the groups’ World Headquarters, to be located on Long Meadow Road. It is anticipated that construction at the IP site would last roughly a year and would include the addition of a 160-unit modular home complex and a new parking lot amongst other things. Please find below the narrative for proposed use as submitted to the Town Planning Board.

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reserve

Tuxedo Reserve Southern Tract, 1200 acres intended for 1200 new housing units in Tuxedo

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Rockland County Sewer District Turns Down Tuxedo Reserve

On April 22, 2010 the Tuxedo Reserve Development was on the agenda at the Rockland County Sewer District meeting. Developers are looking for permission to tie the housing development into the Rockland County system via the new facility located in Hillburn, NY.

The developer was not present at the meeting, however representative from the Tuxedo Land Trust were there and ready to speak out against the proposed connection.

Town of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence put a swift end to the request before anyone could speak by commenting “people in Orange County and Tuxedo need to know that the system that we built here in Rockland County is for Rockland County residents only. We are not spending this money to give an enhancement to anyone in Orange County, nor are we hooking up our system to Orange County.”

The development will not be able to hook into the Tuxedo Sewer plant as per a DEC mandated moratorium, issued in January of 2010.

This leaves the developer with quite a problem on their hands, which, unless rectified, will prevent them with moving forward with the project as approved.

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Tuxedo Reserve offers rule book

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Developer proposes 'smart code'

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Lenders to Get Miami Condo Complex

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Citizens group raising funds to fight Tuxedo Reserve

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The Related Companies get voted down in the Bronx

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Detailed Account of the November 23 Public Hearing for Tuxedo Reserve

Because non-Tuxedo residents were heard at the end of the previous public hearing, Supervisor Dolan announced that the Board would hear them first.

Robert J. Drennen: Click here to read Mr. Dennen’s remarks

James (“Spider”) Barbour: Click here to read Mr. Barbieri’s remarks

Peggy Wissler: Click here to read Ms. Wissler’s remarks. Download the map here.

Steve Gross: Click here to read Mr. Gross’s remarks

Mary Ellen Shaw representing the Sierra Club of New Jersey, stated that the Club is concerned about stormwater runoff, additional impervious surfaces and the actual flow levels in the Ramapo River. She commented , “the more development you have up here, the less flow we have in New Jersey.” She then informed the Board that In New Jersey, they call this kind of development “uncontrolled sprawl,” and they argue over every acre.

Janet Burnet: spoke as the Executive Director of the Ramapo River Intermunicipal Watershed Committee. She began by showing a map of the watershed, which reaches all the way down to the New York State border and into northern New Jersey. She pointed out that this is a shared watershed and it’s where many people, including many non-Tuxedo residents, get their drinking water from. The Committee has multiple concerns about water quantity as well as water quality. Rockland County gets 40% of their drinking water from the watershed and United Water has recently stated that this is not enough to satisfy the demand for water. This is the same watershed from which Tuxedo Reserve is proposing to withdraw up to 800,000 gallons a day! The Committee is asking for better regional planning—transboundary planning. They feel that Rockland County has not been included in the process.With regard to the quality of the water, the developer has intimated that there is a possibility that they will hook into the Western Ramapo sewage treatment plant, however, this will not happen. The Rockland legislature has said they will not give permission for the hook-up as has the Rockland County Sewer District #1. Ms.Burnet also remarked that she has not seen any plans for a new sewer treatment plant in Tuxedo, but if they have been drawn up, she recommends an independent review of them by an expert in the field before the issuance of any permit. She concluded by noting that when a decision making process takes as long as this one has with the factors needing to be reviewed over and over again, one has to suspect that the project just isn’t a good idea! Good decisions are often clear and easy to make. Perhaps it is just time to say no!

Howard Horowitz: a resident of Warwick.and a Professor at Ramapo College. He pointed out that the issue of Tuxedo Reserve affects the entire region (and not just the Town of Tuxedo) in many ways. The property is part of the open corridor for wildlife, which also includes Sterling Forest. Once corridors such as this one are gone, they are gone forevert and so people have been fighting to maintain them as much as possible. Rock-blasted steep slopes, fractures in the bedrock and chemicals from lawns will all contribute to contamination of the water. In his view, this is a place for which the highest and best use is to be kept open.

Next, the following Tuxedo residents spoke:

David du Pont: Click here to read Mr. Du Pont’s remarks

Gardiner Hempel: As President of the Tuxedo Park Fire Department and a Fire Commissioner for the Town of Tuxedo, Mr. Hempel read a letter written to the Board by the Commissioners. Click here to read that letter.

Lili Neuhauser: Click here to read Mrs. Neuhauser’s remarks

Sally Spooner: stated that as presented, the Tuxedo Reserve development will require substantial taxpayer dollars from residents who are not part of the development in order to sustain itself. The Tuxedo Park Library will require additional infrastructure to seve the population generated by the project. This could run into millions of dollars.. The cost of land, the building, additional furniture and equipoment will be borne by the taxpayers …not the applicant. Ms. Spooner asked the Board to:

  • Hire a professional to represent the Town’s interest I conducting a fiscal analysis. This should include the true cost of things like the Library as well as Fire Protection.
  • Protect their constituents from unfair burdens by making sure the applicant pays for the additional services generated by the project. She said it’s fine for the applicant to make money, but not at our expense.

Barbara du Pont: spoke as President of the Board of the Tuxedo Park Library. Click here to read Mrs. Du Pont’s remarks

Paul Bumbar, a 30-year resident of Laurel Ridge, added his voice to those who oppose the project. He is concerned about the development, especially in the Northern Tract, Mountain Lake and the Fox Hill Tract. He is also concerned about the segmentation of Sterling Forest. He expressed apprehension about the additional traffic that will be generated by the project saying that it is already difficult to get onto Route 17 during rush hour. Additionally, he feels the air quality as well as the water quality will be severely compromised.

Mary Graetzer: Click here to read Mrs. Graetzer’s remarks

John Yrizarry: spoke about the Mountain Lake area. He stated that according to the SDEIS there are 6 species of concern found in the vicinity of Mountain Lake and yet the document also states that the area is suitable for development and that the project would have a minimal impact on the wild life. In his view, there seem to be many flaws in the document. Making sense of these flaws will be up to the Board.

Alan Heywood: began his statement by chastising the Board for holding the hearing in the Town Hall. He suggested that since there were over 200 people at the last hearing with additional people who attempted to attend and couldn’t get in, scheduling this meeting for a venue as small as the Town Hall showed total disrespect by the Board. He pointed out that conceptually people had had a hard time imagining what Tuxedo Reserve will look like and suggested that we have a great example of what it might look like in the clearing of power-lines along South Gate Road. Finally, he commented that in his opinion Related will have a great deal of trouble in the present economic climate persuading any financial institution to loan them money to build a spec development in an unproved area of Orange County, NY. He urged the Board to pay great attention to the financing of the project lest the Town is left with a developer than runs out of financing.

Joan Alleman made a statement via a letter, which was read into the record by Jim Hays. Click here to read Mrs. Alleman’s lettter

Earl Stevens: Mr. Hays also relayed a message from Mr. Stevens who was celebrating his 104th birthday. He wanted the Board to consider that the Hudson Highlands are very important and Tuxedo is very important to the Highlands.

Jim Hays: expressed concern about the proposed Smart Code. He mentioned that some time ago Andrew Dance had offered to give a worksh0p on the Smart Code and said that he hoped the Town would arrange for such a workshop because he feels that the Board as well as other interested people in Town could benefit from it.

Larry Darby: Click here to read Mr. Darby’s remarks

Dena Steele: Click here to read Ms. Steele’s remarks

Francine Rauch: Click here to read Mrs. Rauch’s remarks

Tom Wilson: began by stating that the DSEIS admits there will be stormwater runoff into Tuxedo Lake and the Ramapo RiverIt also admits there will be runoff onto adjacent properties. However, the only method of control being proposed by the developer is a pocket pond and swale, which will bethe only thing preventing contamination going into our drinking water! Beside the issue of water contamination, there is also an issue with the sewage plant. The DEC is going to be sending a letter to the Town explaining that the existing sewage plant is not sufficient and changes need to be made. As the plan stands now, the Town will geta new sewer treatment plant after the 80th house is built. That’s not going to be sufficient for the DEC. The Town needs to have another plant. Even if the developer was willing to change the plan and provide a new plant at the beginning of construction, the Town has no guarantee that thie project is going to get built. An alternative plan is needed. Mr. Wilson then stated that as much as many Tuxedo residents have had problems with this developer, that he would like to prose a pubic/private partnership with him. He then proposed an idea where residents could work with the New York State Parks Departments and the Trust for Public Land and offer the developer money to buy the property outright. At current market values, that would be close to $39 million, (The developer would say that its worth far more than that – about $100 million and that he’s got about $50 million into it already.) Mr. Wilson suggested that a Biomass facility could be constructed and opened on the property. The Parks Department would be OK with this idea and money could generated as opposed to the contamination of public waters. A plan like this would generate between $20 million and $30 million per year and would be a way for the developer to earn his money back in 8 years instead of the 12-15 years needed for build out. Mr. Wilson then outlined more of his plans for this partnership. This information can be found on his website at http://tuxedolandtrust.org/

Peter Regna: Click here to read Mr. Regna’s remarks

Tom Bender: Mr. Bender sent a letter which was read into the record by Uli Pendl. Click here to read Mr. Bender’s letter

JoAnn Hanson: expressed her support for the workshop on the Smart Code. She mentioned that she has a degree in urban planning and yet is having a hard time understanding the changes as requested. She wondered how anyone could comment on the changes when they are so difficult to i understand. While she understands there are advantages for Related as it smoothes the process for them, she feels that the public and the Board need to understand the changes that are being proposed.

Allan Barnett: Click here to read Mr. Barnett’s remarks

John Kilduff: remarks forthcoming

Phillippe Seeman: Mr. Seeman sent a letter, which was read into the record by Uli Pendl. Click here to read Mr. Seeman’s letter

Kristia Cavere: Click here to read Ms. Cavere’s remarks

Nadia Cadadero: Click here to read Ms. Cadadero’s remarks

Uli Pendl: Click here to read Mr. Pendl’s remarks

Lesley Devore: Click here to read Ms. Devore’s remarks

Keevie Silvay: Click here to read Mrs. Silvay’s remarks.

Patsy Wooters: stated that one issue that come up in the two public hearings was the welfare of the projected homeowners association. She gave the example of Pierson Lakes in Sloatsburg, Ny. The Pierson family tried to pull off a large development of 74 high-end homes, but it didn’t work out and in 2004, the project was sold to Byron Hill. Since then, Byron Hill has stiffed the Homeowners Association on their dues. They currently owe over a million dollars.They also have submitted annual offerings without notifying the homeowners, which is in violation of their agreements. Tuxedo Reserve is a development that depends on a successful Homeowners Association, but if Related sells it to someone else, there is no guarantee as to who that will be and how they will behave. This is something else to consider in a fiscal analysis.

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Tuxedo Land Trust To Hold Open Fundraiser on December 13, 3009

Hope to see you there! 
214 East Lake Road 
 
See www.tuxedolandtrust.org for more information
 
TUXEDO RESERVE IS A PROJECT THAT IF COMPLETED WILL FOREVER CHANGE THE CHARACTER AND COST OF LIVING IN TUXEDO. PLEASE JOIN US TO LEARN WHAT YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT THE PROJECT!

Please join the Tuxedo Land Trust Fundraiser
Sunday, December 13, 4 p.m.
Laurie and Greg Beard's 214 East Lake Road, TP
 
Tuxedo Land Trust vs. Tuxedo Reserve
~come sign the petition
~donate to the fund (tax deductible)
~have your questions answered
~volunteer you time and/or talent
 
Rsvp tuxedolandtrust@gmail.org

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Prayers needed to help with pathetic situation

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Cattle Creek Plans Are On Hold

Stalled project is latest sign of financial difficulties for developer Related WestPac

By John Colson
Special to the Sun

The Cattle Creek Colorado project, a large residential and commercial development proposed between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, has been pulled off the table for now, according to a member of Garfield County's planning staff.

The project, formerly known as Sanders Ranch, Bair Chase and Cattle Creek Crossing, was to have been the subject of a hearing before the county planning commission on July 22, said planner Kathy Eastley.

But she received a letter recently from project executive Andrew Dance of Related WestPac, developer of Base Village at Snowmass among other properties, asking that the Cattle Creek application be pulled from the agenda.

Eastley said the letter gave no reason for the move, other than to say that “it does not make sense for us to continue with the project at this time.”

Related WestPac has been undergoing financial difficulties since late last year, when the collapsing stock and credit markets made it difficult to secure financing for its various projects. The company halted construction on buildings in Snowmass Village because of money woes, as well as the partially built Little Nell Residences at Snowmass.

Concerning the Cattle Creek project, six contractors filed liens against the development in March, claiming they were owed a total of about $464,000 for work already done. A spokesman said the company would be working with the contractors to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. Related is in a partnership with the Riverbend LLC in the Cattle Creek project.

In a related development, the Aspen Daily News reported on July 1 that there have been more than $3 million in liens filed in Pitkin County against Related, of which some $647,000 have been released.

Related also is in default on a $110 million loan used to buy four lodges in Snowmass.

A spokesman, Steve Alldredge, told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent that Cattle Creek is a very different proposal separate from the company's projects in Snowmass.

According to Eastley, old documents called for construction of more than 1,000 residential units on 288.9 acres of land in the vicinity where Cattle Creek joins the Roaring Fork River. The project also envisioned 30,000 square feet of commercial and retail space and a site for a school.

But in withdrawing the application from the hearing, Eastley said, “the project is back at square one.”

She said the developers had postponed an earlier hearing, in March, to work on several issues such as access off Highway 82 into the project; a conservation easement along Cattle Creek and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority's trail easement through the property had to be factored in.

She had contacted the company recently to see if any progress had been made on those issues, she said, and added, “I'm not sure there has been a significant amount.”

Still, Eastley said, “They think that they'll probably resubmit later this year.”

jcolson@postindependent.com

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Tuxedo Reserve expansion draws critics in community

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Base Village, located in Snowmass, CO, is a Related Companies (developer of Tuxedo Reserve) affiliate.

Second View - An Editorial on Base Village in Snowmass, Co

More legal woes for Base Village
http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/137749

Electrician sues Snowmass base developer
http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/136164

Snowmass reacts to foreclosures
http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/134284

Sold! Back to lender
http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/136291

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A Report From Target Tuxedo

TARGET has been busy over the summer and fall and we want to bring you up to date on these activities and provide a general appraisal of where the Tuxedo Reserve Development stands at this time.

In the spring of this year the Town of Tuxedo's Planning Board, after seven months of review, turned a proposed amendment to Tuxedo Reserve's Special Permit of 2004 back to the Town Board with a recommendation that a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) be prepared. The Town Board was at first reluctant to ask for a DSEIS. We pressed them to have one prepared by an independent consultant because; 1.new areas are being proposed for developed, e.g. within the Tuxedo Lake and Mountain Lake water sheds, that could potentially affect wildlife as well as surface and ground water quality and flows, 2. a proposed change in housing mix could have an adverse fiscal impact on the Town and 3. an increase in impervious surfaces, of some 50 acres, will effect the hydrology of the site. In addition the previous FEIS had not required a cut and fill analysis that accurately and quantitatively defines the areas of disturbance, which are needed to calculate surface water run off changes. The Board agreed to do a DSEIS, prepared by the applicant and to include: construction impacts (cut and fill analysis), evaluation of impacts on the Tuxedo Lake and Mountain Lake water sheds, fiscal impacts and impacts related to Development phasing. When finished the DSEIS concluded there would be no adverse environmental or fiscal impacts of the proposed amendment.

TARGET disagreed with a number of aspects of this DSEIS including the fiscal analysis.  We again urged the Board to conduct an independent fiscal analysis that makes reasonable estimates of development related expenses and revenues. This analysis should compare the tax impact of the 2004 permitted development with the requested amended development, with and without age restricted housing. Age restricted housing is over built and is not selling.

We are also concerned about the environmental impacts of development within the Mountain Lake and Tuxedo Lake water sheds and our consultant gave a number of presentations to the board and wrote them two long letters detailing our concerns about stormwater calculations, potential groundwater pollution and impacts to wildlife habitat.

We are urging a carefully engineered plan for storm water managementwithin the Tuxedo Lake water shed and the Village is demanding that the present quantity and quality of run off from the development to Tuxedo lake not be adversely affected even by major storms. This is important because the Village has just completed long and difficult negotiations with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation with respect to our dam and its ability to withstand severe storms without cresting waters rising above the top of the dam.
Changes to its watershed could adversely affect the hydrology of the lake.

The Town Board scheduled a public hearing on the proposed amendment for October 26. TARGET prepared a letter, sent to all residents of the Town of Tuxedo, that laid out the issues as we see them (letter attached).  There was a very big turn-out with standing room only and many people being turned away. We estimate between 150 and 200 people attended and many spoke, all opposing the amendment and urging the Town Board to negotiate a better deal for the Town.

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Detailed Account of October 26 Public Hearing on Tuxedo Reserve

Public Hearing on Tuxedo Reserve Proposed Special Permit Amendments, the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) and Proposed Resoning held on October 26, 2009:

Supervisor Dolan opened the Public Hearing by reading the official procedures and rules of conduct for Public Hearings. Speakers were asked to confine their comments to the following subject matter:

  • the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Tuxedo Reserve
  • a proposed revised Special permit for Tuxedo Reserve
  • a local law amending Local Law #4A of 1999 as relates to the minimum number of single family residential units required as part of Tuxedo Reserve and
  • a local law amending the zoning map within Tuxedo Reserve to accommodate the new plan as proposed.

and to keep their comments to 3-5 minutes with no deferrals of time to another person.. Comments from residents of Tuxedo were heard first. It was announced that the hearing would be stopped no later than 10 pm, and would be continued at a later date if there were still speakers to be heard.

Evelyn David spoke first and stated that her comments were in response to the recently received Target Tuxedo letter. She went on to state that that at a time when the world around us seems to be strengthening laws, Tuxedo is loosening theirs. Nowhere in the plans for Tuxedo Reserve can she find any mention of the words “Green” or “conservation” Why is Tuxedo in regressive mode? In her view, the Town should be enactting stricter zoning laws rather than loser ones that make it easier for the developer to build.

Dan Gladding – Click Here to read Mr. Gladding’s remarks.

Sue Scher – Click Here to read Mrs. Scher’s remarks

Kristia Cavere began her remarks by stating that she is strongly opposed to Tuxedo Reserve. She has two main concerns. First is the proposed Smart Code. She feels the Town’s zoning laws, architectural guidelines and landscaping rules must be applicable to the entire town, including Tuxedo Reserve or anyone that they might sell to. Her second concern is downtown Tuxedo. She noted that the original plan had been focused on revitalizing our existing downtown while the proposed plan will add a second downtown area between Tuxedo and Sloatsburg. She questioned how the developer plans to fill 30,000 square feet of commercial space if the Town can’t even fill the new Duck Cedar space or Town Square. Finally, expressed concern with the lack of environmental impact studies from the proposal and stated that these must occur as well as further fiscal analysis before anything can be approved. She concluded by noting that many people have chosen to live in Tuxedo because it is a green oasis located between Bergin County and Northern Orange County, both of which are highly developed. She would like to see it remain green.

Nils Gerling Mr. Gerling is the Chairman of the Town’s Planning Board. Prior to his remarks, , Supervisor Dolan noted that in the years since the Special Permit was approved in 2004 , The Related Companies have spent $1,600,00 on Town Consultants and that 13,000 hours have been spent on project review. The Supervisor thanked Mr. Gerling for his part of those hours.
Mr. Gerling then stated that he had been reviewing the DSEIS and had found the document riddled with errors, both in the form of mathematical errors as well as omitted information. After giving some specific examples, he asked the Town Board to hire capable consultants with “appropriate backgrounds” to “audit the document and verify the veracity of the numbers and their origin.” He also noted that the document states an assumption that a 10,000 square foot Library addition would be required but, in a later table, only offers 5000 square feet on a third of an acre! Additionally, the document states that there is no anticipated negative impact on existing retailers in Tuxedo, however that assessment is for Phases 1 and 2 of the project. There is no mention of the impact of Phase 3. Mr. Gerling feels that if competitive retail is introduced, it might well have an impact on our existing retailers. His recommends that the Town Board meet with Budget Officer Pat Sullivan in addition to their consultants in order to verify the numbers before moving forward.

JoAnn HansonLink to her remarks

Jim Hays Mr. Hays, a Trustee of the Village of Tuxedo Park and its Deputy Mayor, began his remarks by commenting that he was not speaking on behalf of the Village, but rather as a town resident. He went on to say that development of this property will move forward one way or another and that it was not his intention to oppose the development Wiith that said, he went on to outline some of his concerns with the project as proposed. It is his understanding that the modification of Local Law 4A requires SEQRA review. This review should include a fiscal impact study of the proposed changes specifically in terms of the housing mixes. Because age-restricted housing is not selling at this time, Mr. Hays feels that the analysis should be done both with and without age-restricted housing. Mr. Hays also expressed concern about the intentions of property owners. He referenced the case of Tuxedo Reserve and Tuxedo TPA vs. Lehman Brothers Holdings, currently before the US Bankruptcy Court and commented that on December 3, 2008 Related Companies had stated that they were going to “rough in” the project’s main spine (Quail Road) in October of 2008. This milestone was critical to the project in order for it to meet its first bulk land sale scheduled for the second quarter of 2009. Mr. Hays feels it is important that the Board knows whether or not the land owners intend to engage in substantial infrastructure construction (such as building a sewage treatment plant) or if they intend to engage in minimal construction and sell all or part of the land.

Mary Hanson Mrs. Hanson, a member of the Town Planningf Board, commented that she had reviewed the DSEIS, and wanted to know what the development will cost the current taxpayers. She fears that the Board is taking the applicant’s word that taxpayers won’t end up paying for a huge amount of fire department and highway departments costs. She noted that in 2003, the Fire Department estimated that it would cost well over $1.5 million to cover the cost of required additional equipment. Will the taxpayers bear the responsibility of paying for this? Mrs. Hanson continued on to report that she has spoken to Tax Assessor Greg Stevens and was dismayed to discover that he had not been asked to review the documents. According to Mr. Stevens a condominium in Southfields presently pays about $1000 a year in taxes. Mrs. Hanson concluded by stating that that the town is looking at some serious expenses and she suggested that they had better make sure that these expenses are funded by the Developer..

Robert McQuilkin, a Village resident and member of the Village Planning Board, stated that he is concerned about the amount of proposed retail space in the project. Because the previous Town Board made it a cornerstone of the special permit to restrict commercial space, Mr. McQuilkin is alarmed by the newly proposed amount. The Town doesn’t have a critical mass of people to fill the Hamlet shops along Route 17 and the Rt 17 shops are already being watered down by the newly renovated Duck Cedar and various other locations.Focus must be placed on the revitalization of Route 17. Mr. McQuilkin thinks it’s a terrible idea to pull retail space up into Tuxedo Reserve. He also raised the question of whether there is money in the budget to cover the increased wear and tear on the roads in Tuxedo Reserve. He noted that the proposed roads are very steep and have many switchbacks as well as lots of steep retaining walls and thus will be expensive to maintain.

Mary Graetzer - Click Here to read Mrs. Graetzer’s remarks

Alyse McCathern As member of the former Town Board, which passed the 2004 Special Permit, Mrs. McCathern began her remarks by disclosing that she is employed by Town Attorneys Jacobowiitz & Gubits but that she was speaking only for herself – not for any other member of the former Town Board and not for her law firm. She stated that she had reviewed the 2004 Special Permit and Findings Statement while preparing her remarks and that in her view, three are four areas of concern.

  • Financial – The Special Permit sets up PILOT Payments (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) to the Town of $150,000 per year on the Northern Tract which all felt probably wouldn’t be developed. They also put aside $6 million for revitalization of the Town of which $2 million was for low interest loans to small businesses. She trusts that these will not be touched in the new application. The 2004 Permit limited retail in the project to 3000 square feet and this was done to protect the businesses in the Hamlet. Mrs. McCathern hopes there will be a economic impact study done to show what increasing the retail space to 30,000 square feet might do to businesses in the Hamlet.
  • Environmental – The 2004 Permit preserved over 1700 acres This included the entire Northern Tract, Fox Hill in its entirety, a significant portion of the Southern Tract and Mountain Lake which at the time was determined, by the Town’s own consultants, to be an environmental treasure which should not be built upon. Mrs. McCathern reiterated that she does not believe Mountain Lake should be built upon.
  • Community Character – the former Town Board had their consultants make a 3D video so they could see what the development would actually look like as opposed to looking at pictures on paper and Mrs. McCathern strongly urges the present Board to do the same thing. In 2004 this resulted in very specific bulk standards and design guidelines and she recommends that these should be maintained. As per the Town Code the Special Permit states that the project would be subject to review by the Architectural Review Board. In Mrs. McCathern’s view, the current Board has not been favorable to the ARB and she finds this very disturbing. Her own personal opinion is that residential development is usually tax negative. The 2004 permit limited multifamily units to 305 and she is concerned about the increase in the new proposal. She hopes the Town’s consultants will advise them on the fiscal impacts of this increase.
  • Enforcement - Since even the smallest of l projects can be difficult to infoce, the 2004 Permit included a lot of enforcement mechanisms. She trusts these won’t be abandoned. In particular, Mrs. McCathern feels the traffic monitoring mechanism is most important.

(At this time, Mrs. McCathern’s allotted time ran out and despite encouragement from the audience to continue, she was asked to step down from the podium,)

Gary PompanLink to his remarks

Kathy Norris commented that residents have been asking the same questions over and over again for years and that no one is answering them. It is inherent in human nature and written in the Constitution of the United States that a property owner tbe able to do with their own property what he or she wishes. However, freedom is not a license to adversely affect other people’s rights to enjoy their own property. Some of her questions were:

  • What happens when the current owner of the property divides it up between the various developers? Who will be responsible for it’s buildout, architectural appearance, mess and traffic?
  • When residents can’t take a shower because their neighbor is watering their lawn, who will be responsible?
  • When the Town is sued by New Jersey residents for water pollution because the Ramapo River can’t take any more effluent, what will they do about it and who will pay for the lawsuit?
  • When the town has an additional 900 children wanting to come to the public school, who will pay for it?
  • When residents are unable to get down Route 17 because the traffic is all blocked up, what will they do?

Charlie Hunt, a Clinton Woods resident whose background is in strategic planning and outcomes research, expressed his concern that there is no scalable monitoring. He went on to suggest that Trigger points should be introduced so that if things are not moving along successfully with phase, then phase two and phase three are put on hold. He feels there are optimistic residency figures in terms of school-age children but if that balance changes because of the economics, he would like to see a trigger than let the development go no further.

Ken Magar introduced himself as the previous Supervisor of the Town. As such, he commented that he had spent almost 10 years reviewing this project before voting in the Special Permit in 2004. At that time, both the Town Board and the developer believed they had a viable project but neither of them was naïve enough to think it was cut in stone. He feels minor changes are inevitable. It is his personal opinion that without development, this Town and the school system will die. The Town needs development but it is their responsiblity to make sure that this development is reasonable. Speaking to the developer he said, “if you had a viable development in 2004, you should take it. If you want changes, shelf them. After 10 years(and this is a 20 year project)after you’ve made your initial project, then come back in with your revisions. Get the prpject started!”

Houston Stebbins Click Here to read Mayor Stebbins’ remarks

Mary Yrizarry urged the Board to listen carefully to the statements made by non-residents who are living with real development and not dismiss them just because they are not from the Town of Tuxedo. She reminded the Board that whether they liked it or not, “Tuxedo Reserve is not an island.” It is part of a large mountainous and forrested region whose natural resources we share with our Tuxedo neighbors, the surrounding communities and many, many others downstream and further away. Everyone’s concern for clean water, clear air, safe roadways, adequate Town services, taxes and a natural aesthetic are issues that the Board, as lead agency, must take into consideration. The previous Town Board struggled with these issues over many years. They listened to a plethora of views and did their best to accommodate as many of them as reasonably feasible. Even then, the final document was not perfect and since that time more information has come to light both from the developer and outside observers. So, in reading the DSEIS, when the developer repeats at the end of almost every modification statement, “….no significant adverse impact,” Mrs. Yrizarry suggested the Board take it with a very large grain of salt.

Michele Lindsay inquired as to how the Town plans to control the quality of the building and landscaping of the project. She mentioned that a year and a half ago, she had appeared before the Town Board to speak about Sterling Mine Estates. Her concern at that time was that the project had been allowed to move forward and was then abandoned and left half finished, creating not only an eyesore, but a safety hazard.,. Subsequently, the Town installed deflectors along the ditch that runs along Sterling Mine Road so that people wouldn’t inadvertently drive into it, but these are the only improvements that were made to the the site. Mrs. Lindsay noted that the applicant is pushing for “the Smart Code” and she wondered if they then proceed to sell parcels, or perhaps all of the property, to others, what will be the control mechanism to ensure that the project is finished properly? She also expressed concern about the fact that the water facilities in the project are to be maintained by the Homeowners Association. She further commented that she had heard at a Planning Board meeting that if the Homeowners feel they can no longer maintain these facilities, then the Town woill have to take them over. Finally, she spoke about the proposed land swap noting that the developer is proposing to give land zoned for light industry along Long Meadow Road to PIPC in return for land along South Gate Road. Does it make sense for the Town to give up the possibility of developing businesses along Long Meadow Road in the future when such businesses would be beneficial to the Town in terms of tax revenue?

Ulrich Pendl made his remarks on the Economic and Fiscal Analysis section of the DSEIS. He noted that the revenue numbers were based on figures, which were valid 5 years ago. A particularly glaring example of “wishful revenue data” is that a 4- bedroom house on 1/3 of an acre is to be sold for $1.5 million! The claim that the addition of 1200 units to a Town of our size would be tax positive or even tax neutral is suspect. It is said that one tax dollar received from residents necessitates $1.30 in services to be provided to the community. While ideally these funds would come from business taxes, our Town is geographically unable to handle more than the railroad, the Super Highway, the Highway and the River in our narrow valley. Business will move South. In addition, Mr. Pendl noted that the developer has changed the housing mix to add substantially more housing for families with children. He noted that TUFSD’s cost per student is more than twice the NYS average. Mr. Pendl strongly urged the Board to take more time to listen to more input from residents before voting in any way on this project which will “alter forever the nature of our Town.”

Susan Goodfellow - Click Here to read Mrs. Goodfellow’s Remarks

Peter Regna - Click Here to read Mr. Regna’s remarks

John Kilduff, Preisdent of the Ambulance Corps, speaking as a private citizen, commented “when I connect the dots, there can be only one answer to t his application….application denied!” He went on to note that that the Public Hearing was about process, about all of Tuxedo collectively going through the application with a fine tooth comb. Lots of very dedicated people have done that and the numbers don’t add up. In his view the risks aren’t worth it. Stating “They had a deal in 2004. Sorry if it didn’t work out for you.” Mr. Kilduff noted that Related had also built the “majestic” Time Warner Center in New York City. He suggested that everyone give it some time because perhaps the land here could become very valuable in the future in terms of a carbon offset credit.

Bill Sloe inquired as to the history of the developer? Who are they? What have they done?

Thomas Wilson stated that after 13,000 hours of study, the project is already tax negative. If the Town is being asked to increase the commercial space from 3000 to 30.000 square feet, increase multifamily housing and add new zoning that will supercede the Town Zoning Code, in his view they are basically being asked to subsidize the sale of the property to another developer. He then seconded John Kilduff’s earlier comments….“application denied!”

George Williams, a resident of Tuxedo Park who works for a real estate firm in New York City, noted that Phase 1 consists of 75 units however the town is not requiring that the sewer treatment plant be constructed until 80 units are built. Using the example of a development called “Captains Corners” in Staten Island, he suggested that the developer could build 75 units and then stop for any number of years. In Captain’s Corners it was 16 years.

John Kwasnicki of Sloatsburg found several things missing from the DSEIS. For example, the Town of Tuxedo PID Code history,Tuxedo Reserve PID Code zoning controls, Tuxedo Reserve’s agreements with the Villages of Tuxedo Park and Sloatsburg, the Town of Tuxedo Master Plan of 1972 and the Sloatsburg Stormwater Controls of 2007 are all missing. He submitted several pictures of the rough grade of the roads, which are situated on the 40 acres of Tuxedo Reserve that lie in Sloatsburg as well as pictures of a well. Wells in Rockland County are regulated by the Board of Health and that agency has said that this looked like Tuxedo Reserve would take the water from this well and transfer it over the county line to their development.

Randy George is the Mayor of North Haledon, NJ. He begand his remarks b by saying “development is not the panacea you are led to believe. I’ve been on the Planning Board for 11 years and I’ve never once seen a plan that said it would adversely affect the Town.” His town had an application for 900 units on 100 acres. They bargained them down to 300 units. They were told the development would yield 20 schoolchildren. It yielded 60 schoolchildren, which triggered a $30 million referendum for a new school. The units sold for $200,000 more than they said they would, but now that there is a recession people are coming in and asking to have their taxes lowered. They’re taking the Town to court every year…..and winning. So now these property owners are paying less taxes because their homes are worth less. All this has shifted the burden onto all the other taxpayers in Town. Mr. George commented that the developer is here for only one reason … economics. In Mr. George’s view, the developer cannot build the project because they cannot sell at the price they need. As a result they are asking for more multifamily units and more commercial space. 1600 hundred wells in North Haledon get their water from our watershed. Mr. George commented that he hoped the Board would listen to all of the speakers present and that the residents would continue to keep up their vigilence.

Geoff Welch is an environmental consultant to the Village of Suffern and the Ramapo River Watershed Keeper. He noted that he will give water testimony later in the process and would be making his remarks on natural resources. Mr. Welch disagrees with the DSEIS where it says that the project would have a non-significant effect on natural resources. The DEC listed wetlands on the site are valuable wildlife habitats. 100 ft. buffers on the wetlands are not enough. In particular, Mr.Welch mentioned two species, the red shoulder hawks and copperhead snakes. A field worker doing salamander studies observed a den of 19 copperheads on the site, in an area located in Phase 1 of the project. Copperheads are even more aggressive than rattlesnakes so it’s not good to have houses near their den. Mr. Welch concluded that the property would be much better preserved as a key link between Sterling Forest, the Ramapo River Watershed and Harriman Park.

Betsy Kohn, Co-Chair of the Sierra Club North Jersey Group stated that last summer the Exeutive Committee of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club had stated it is in opposition to the Tuxedo Reserve Development. One of their main concerns is the adverse impact that the project will have on the health of the Ramapo River watershed, which is a sole source aquifer with headwaters in New York. It provides drinking water for millions of New Jersey residents.
The quality of the water is already severely stressed from the existing level of development. In New Jersey, the water barely meets EPA standards. It makes little sense that this fragile watershed should be given over to massive development. The project undermines all the efforts to safeguard the water supply made by the citizens of New Jersey for years.

Janet Burnet lives in Suffern, but commented that she is a stakeholder in the process because she lives in the Ramapo River Watershed. United Water has said they will be able to meet the demands of the Tuxedo Reserve development by withdrawing from the Ramapo River Watershed, but at the same time United Water says it is running out of water in Rockland County, where they withdraw about 40% of the twater supply from the very same watershed. What is the truth? Is there so little water that United Water needs to build a desalination plant on the banks of the Hudson River or is there so much water that they have no hesitancy in promising that they can supply the Tuxedo Reserve Development. Mrs. Burnet urges the Board to take a very close hard look at the water reserves and United Water’s ability to provide water for the development. She recommended that the Board initiate discussions with officials from Rockland and New Jersey as well as Orange County water officials. She hopes that the Town of Tuxedo can be counted on to protect our regional water supply

Cynthia Sirocco asked for a moment of silence, which she said was not for animals or birds or insects but for human beings because we are destroying our water and air quality. The Tuxedo Reserve development will have an impact not just on Tuxedo, but it will also have have a global impact on water and air quality.

Steve Gross stated that Table 3-20 on page 3-21 of the DSEIS says the project will have a positive fiscal impact on the Town. However, Mr. Gross pointed out that the table only considers the impact on the school budget and does not consider the fiscal impacts to the Town at all. The fiscal impact on the Town, which is already projected to be negative for the General Fund and Fire District, would become negative in all taxing jurisdictions. He went on to say, that Table 1-3 on page 1-8 of the DSEIS lists, among the Neighborhood Amenity Buildings, a Boathouse for the Mountain Lake neighborhood. This is particularly disturbing since in all public representations to date, it would appear that the applicant was respecting the sensitive nature of the lake, avoiding encroaching no further than 100 feet from the edge of the wetland surrounding the lake. There is no other mention of a boathouse in the DSEIS, except briefly in an appendix to the Technical Memorandum where it appears as an item in a long list of recreational areas in the project. Looking at the Tuxedo Reserve website, however, one finds “the Mountain Lake Club” promoted as an “Amentiy” including a boathouse, rock beach, outdoor ice rink, platform tennis courts and a summer lawn, and that these facilities would be open to the public. These activities could expose Mountain Lake to intensive, damaging recreational use over the long term. In the short term, the proposed activities represent a significant encroachment on a NYSDEC regulated wetland, which has not been disclosed to the Town Board. Improvements to provide access to Mountain Lake have not been shown on any map or plan. This is an area of concern that requires much more disclosure and analysis. The DSEIS discusses the importance of un-fragmented forests. This property is presently part of the Sterling Forest un-fragmented forest. Obviously, the approved 2004 plan would already have an impact in reducing this un-fragmented forest, but the DSEIS disclosed that the Mountain Lake area of the development will cause the loss of an additional 94 acres of un-fragmented forest, leaving 202 acres intact. This means that 296 acres of un-fragmented forest would remain under the current Special Permit and that nearly one-third of that – 94 acres – would be lost under the proposed amendments. This is a significant impact, which could be avoided if there were no development in the Mountain Lake area. Mr. Gross had many more points he wanted to make and he was told he would be able to speak again at the continued hearing.

Andrew Lawrence spoke representing the New York Highlands Coalition, a group formed in response to the 2004 Highlands Preservation Act, which conserves the highlands in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. He read a statement, which was submitted as a letter to Supervisor Dolan and which stated that the Coalition does not believe the proposed development “recognizes the importance of the water, forest, agricultural, wildlife, recreational and cultural resources of the Highlands region.” The Coalition believes that the best use of the land would be for landowners and local officials to see preservation of the property thus avoiding the segmentation and further fragmentation of a valuable section of the Highlands.
Click Here to read this statement

Patsy Wooters –Click Here to read Mrs. Wooters’ remarks

Chief Dwaine Perry of the Ramapo-Lenape Nation, who resides in Hilburn, reported that he had heard from a reliable source that Indian artifacts and perhaps remains had been found during the building of the road behind Jesse’s Bagels. He asked to look at the site and was sent to the developers who denied his request. Several weeks later, the developer provided an archaeologist who, together with Chief Perry;s archaeologist, went to have a look They discovered that the site had been “bulldozed, dumped on and altered” so there was no hope of finding either artifacts or remains. Chief Perry requested the establishment of a local oversight person so that if something is found, it can be identified.

Jeff Genser stated that he is not a rocket scientist, but that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the project is bogus. He recommends that residents petition to have a referendum put on the ballot asking residents whether or not they want to see Tuxedo Reserve built. In his view, the development should never be built..

Ed McGowan, Science Director for PIPC as well as Director of the Zoo at Bear Mountain, began his presentation with a statement about the PIPC land swap. He said a letter had been sent to the Town Board in lateJune ,which made it clear that PIPC would not undertake any review of this matter while the applicant was still seeking various approvals for the project. Yet the applicant has clearly sought approval for development on land currently owned by the PIPC. The PIPC would like to make it clear that the land swap is not on the table at the moment. Discussing the DSEIS, Mr. McGowan said that a number of people had addressed the deficiencies of the DSEIS and he would like to add that there were unsupportable statements made in the document. There are some good parts, in particular a discussion of fragmentation where the applicant lays out the significance of the area and then lists the consequences of fragmentation only to sweep aside the project and say that there would be no impact on fragmentation. Mr. McGowan feels that it would be hard to find an impartial expert to read the document and come to the same conclusion. When reviewing an EIS, he likes to look at the species list as he finds it a window into how thorough the review has been. He found some interesting omissions here….copperheads and black rattlesnakes are not listed although they clearly exist on the property. Those species tend to cohabitate with timber rattlesnakes, which makes him wonder if they did sufficient work for timber rattlesnakes. It would be in the applicant’s best interest to do that work properly so they don’t encounter problems down the line. Also missing was mention of the golden wing warbler, a species in dramatic decline, although the Sterling Forest area is one it’s remaining strongholds and there is ideal habitat available. There are species listed as being on the site, which are also unusual. Either these are misidentifications or very exciting finds. One is the norther leopard frog, very common up north but this would be the southernmost occurrence. Finally, there is the Least Shrew, which is the world’s smallest mammal and a speciies that Mr. MdGowan has been looking for for 20 years. These are not known in New York State. They are listed as an historical record for 1900 from West Point and from the 1930’s in the Ithaca area. If they are in fact on the property, they are New York’s most endangered mammal! Mr. McGowan will pass this information along to the State Mammalogist. In conclusion, Mr. McGowan stated there were serious deficiencies in the DSEIS.

Mr. McGowan was the last speaker. After consultation with Town Attorney Larry Wolinsky, Supervisor Dolan announced that the Public Hearing will be continued on November 23rd. At that time, first consideration will be given to people who weren’t present at tonight’s hearing or who had to leave early. After that, if there is time, other comments will be taken as long as they aren’t repetitive or redundant. Mr. Dolan requested all speakers submit their comments in writing as quickly as possible. After the hearing is closed, the Town Board will go to work on the project conducting a number of workshops with the Town Attorney, the Town Planner and the Town Engineer as well as the applicant. These workshops will be open to the public although there may well not be any public comment period.

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Sierra Club of New Jersey Opposes Tuxedo Reserve Development in the Ramapo River Watershed

Resolution Opposing Tuxedo Reserve Development
in the Ramapo River Watershed

WHEREAS, an Act of Congress recognizes the national significance of the Highlands region to the United States and the Highlands Conservation Act of 2004 encourages a regional approach and cooperation to protect priority conservation lands by the four states in the Highlands region; and

WHEREAS, the Ramapo River in the Highlands region, with headwaters in New York, is a Federally-designated sole source aquifer that provides drinking water for over two million residents in New Jersey, and also supplies 40 per cent of Rockland County’s water; and

WHEREAS, the Ramapo River Watershed and aquifer are already severely stressed and barely meet US Environmental Protection Agency water standards; and

WHEREAS, unfragmented forest is critically important to protect the aquifer and wildlife habitat; and

WHEREAS, the Ramapo River Watershed upstream in New York State is under threat of development from large-scale housing projects including the Tuxedo Reserve development which proposes to build 1,195 units and 33,000 square feet of commercial space across 2,300 acres of forested steep slopes; and

WHEREAS, the site for Tuxedo Reserve is located in the New York State US Geological Survey Quadrant with the highest level of biodiversity in reptile and amphibian species, including the Timber Rattlesnake, a “threatened species” requiring protection under the New York State Department of Conservation; and

WHEREAS, the construction of Tuxedo Reserve will disturb steep slopes, causing soil erosion to silt up streams and rivers; uncover bedrock to expose cracks, allowing non-point source pollution to migrate directly into the aquifer; and add impervious surfaces, preventing rainwater absorption into the ground and increasing run-off and area flooding; and

WHEREAS, Tuxedo Reserve would destroy land that is a New York State Open Space Conservation Plan priority site surrounded by Harriman State Park, Sterling Forest State Park, the Wanaque Wildlife Management Area, Tranquility Ridge Passaic County Park, Ringwood State Park, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, and Ramapo Valley County Reservation.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club finds that the Tuxedo Reserve development would significantly degrade the Ramapo River Watershed, irreparably harm the ecosystem, and adversely affect the priority conservation lands of the surrounding Highlands wilderness; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Chapter opposes the Tuxedo Reserve development and calls upon the Town of Tuxedo, NY to find ways to preserve and protect this environmentally sensitive site as open space.

Date: May 9, 2009 Sierra Club, New Jersey Chapter
Ken Johanson, Chapter Chair

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Scores pack hearing to question Tuxedo Reserve report

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Letter To the Community From Target Tuxedo

Dear Fellow Resident :

Attached is a two page summary of the issues facing our community as a result of new plans proposed by Tuxedo Reserve. It is a factual and fair document based on a report prepared by Mr. Steve Gross, Municipal Impact Analyst. Mr. Gross was hired by the Target Tuxedo Group, an organization based in Tuxedo that has expressed reservations about this large development for many years. His findings should instill concern in all residents, since each of us will be affected in some way by the development plans and alterations proposed by Tuxedo Reserve.

map

Above is a map that shows clearly where this development will be situated. The area labeled Southern Tract is the site of Tuxedo Reserve’s proposed 1195-unit development.

No matter how you feel about the contents of the accompanying Summary – it is meant to give each of us, at the very least, a clear idea of the issues involved. The most important thing is to inform yourself before the hearings on October 26th. The entire plan and impact statement is available at our Town Library.

It is of paramount importance that we all attend the Public Hearing on October 26th, currently scheduled for 7:30 PM at Town Hall. It’s not only we who will be affected, but the future of our community for generations to come.

Sincerely yours,
Target Tuxedo Group

Public Hearing October 26, 7:30 PM Eagle Valley Fire House Scott Mine Road Eagle Valley, N. Y.

T0 Town of Tuxedo residents:

The Tuxedo Reserve Project, which received approval for 1,195 housing units in 2004, is back before the Town Board, seeking amendments to the original plan. Supporters of the project hope for positive tax revenue from high quality housing and commercial development, additional school children to keep Baker High School viable and a fix for the ailing Tuxedo sewage treatment plant.
The question before the Town Board is whether the proposed changes are in the long run, better for the residents of our town than the previous plan.. The Town Board can and should negotiate with Tuxedo Reserve to achieve the best plan for present and future residents.

What changes are being proposed?
The former Town Board spent years negotiating the Special Permit, awarded in 2004. Since that time, the developer, The Related Companies (“Related”), has discovered that the property is not easy to develop. Steep slopes, rock outcrops, and wetlands are obstacles to some proposed road alignments and development areas. Therefore, the applicant has proposed changes that would remove the development from these difficult areas, and place it in other areas some of which were previously considered undevelopable (near Mountain Lake and within the Tuxedo Lake watershed.) Additionally, the applicant proposes to increase the amount of commercial property from 3,000 to 33,000 square feet, increase, multifamily housing by more than 40%, and introduce flag lots and small cottage lots, all of which will increase the urban character of the development. These changes the former Town Board worked to avoid. Further, a new zoning code is being proposed for the development that will supersede the Town’s existing code. Some of these changes may be beneficial for the town, others may not. Either way your town board is being pressed to accept all of the proposed changes now.

Are the tax benefits certain?
The applicant has represented that the project will be tax-positive -- generating more in taxes than it demands in services – despite the fact that this is rarely the case for residential subdivisions. However, this tax benefit is completely dependent on some hard-to-believe assumptions:

  • More than 500 of the 1,195 tax-generating residential units (nearly half) are valued from just under $1 million to nearly $1.5 million. These units have a maximum of 4 bedrooms, and no more than 1/3 of an acre. By contrast, the only sale in Tuxedo Park this past year was a 7-bedroom mansion on 1.5 acres for $950,000.
  • The applicant projects that the 998 unrestricted housing units with a total of 2,805 bedrooms (an average of 2.8 bedrooms per unit) would generate 429 school-aged children. This equates to 0.43 students per housing unit, or 0.15 students per bedroom. If these projections seem low, then consider that each student not accounted for would create an additional demand for about $21,849 in costs to the school district.
  • Of the 1,195 proposed units, 197 (16.5%) are proposed to be age-restricted, and therefore generate no school-aged children. As such, these units would contribute significantly to the school district tax base with no demand for services. However, the bottom has fallen out of the age-restricted housing market. A recent market analysis found the current inventory of age-restricted housing in Orange County alone reflects a 24.5 year backlog! As a result, age restrictions on such units have been lifted in town after town, converting them into unrestricted housing that can have school children. Even if you agree that the housing units would generate only 0.43 student each, the conversion of 197 units into unrestricted housing will result in 85 more school children, or an additional $1.86 million in costs per year.

It is important, therefore, that the Town Board do a thorough and independent fiscal analysis of the proposed amendment, as recommended by the Town Planning Board. This analysis should include a comparison of the fiscal impact of the 2004 plan with that of the 2009 plan with and without age restricted housing..

Phased Approvals?
The proposed development is huge and there are many uncertainties, some of which will not be known until construction is underway. If things go poorly for the developer they can seek another amendment to the Special Permit, but what if things go poorly for the Town? Shouldn’t the project be phased so that the town has the opportunity to review the project at intervals, in the event that projected tax revenues don’t materialize? The Special Permit specifies the number of units allowed, it does not specify unit prices. The developer has the option of building cheaper units, which would adversely impact projected tax revenues.

Construction here will be difficult
The homes in Tuxedo Reserve will be placed on lots of no more than 1/3 acre, meaning massive clearing, grading and blasting will be needed. No less than 50 retaining walls, measuring as high as 30 feet, and as much as a half mile long, and some 25 rock cuts are proposed. Most of the retaining walls and rock cuts are associated with road construction, and these roads will eventually be turned over to the Town to maintain. Maintaining simple roads is expensive enough. How much will it cost to maintain roadways supported by retaining walls as high as 30 feet? Which plan will be more or less expensive for the town to maintain?

New impacts near Mountain Lake
The new plan proposes a new residential neighborhood that would be situated adjacent to Mountain Lake. In the original plan, this area remained as open space, maintaining a very important wildlife connection between Mountain Lake and a large regulated wetland. A major bedrock fracture also underlies this area. Contaminants could enter the fracture from the proposed new neighborhood, and contaminate both groundwater resources and the Ramapo River. The Town Board should insure that development in this sensitive area does not have negative impacts.

What is the rush?
Regardless of whether Related builds the development, which is unlikely, or someone else does, it will be built. Related,does not plan to develop this project until 2012 at the earliest, if at all. In their pleadings before the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy court, December 8, 2008, the developer stated that they had a “.....first bulk land sale scheduled for the second quarter of 2009.” So the project may be partially or completely sold prior to 2012. Construction will be in accordance with agreements between the developer and the Town Board that should be carefully negotiated and there is plenty of time for such negotiations.

The Tuxedo Town Board needs to hear from you
The Tuxedo Town Board will begin public hearings on the proposed amendments on October 26, 2009 at 7:30 PM in the Town Hall. They need to hear from the public. They’ve been hearing from the applicant for quite some time. Now it’s time for them to hear from the people who live here, or live nearby. Let your opinion be heard.

TARGET Tuxedo
October 16, 2009

*For more information about specific aspects of the project go to: http://www.tpfyi.com/subdivisions.html

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Reserve development hearing scheduled

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Tuxedo Reserve - Special Permit and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

  1. Design Guidelines (35.5 MB)
  2. Draft Special Permit Resolution (862 KB)
  3. Performance Standards (48.7 KB)
  4. Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (110 Mb)
  5. Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement Appendices (121 MB)
  6. Smart Code (4.5 MB)
  7. Smart Code - Table 1 and Regulating Plans (8.09 MB)
  8. Preliminary Plan (100 MB)

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Town Board Moving Ahead with Tuxedo Reserve

On September 14, 2009 the Town Board voted unanimously in favor of accepting the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the project as complete. A Public Hearing has been set for October 26 at 7:30pm.

Steve Gross of Hudson Valley Environmental Consulting representing the citizens action group Target Tuxedo, has submitted several letters to the Town Board in which he raises a number of key issues with the SEIS as well as the project in general. Please take a moment and review these letters.

STEVE GROSS LETTER 9/11

September 11, 2009

Town of Tuxedo Town Board
1 Temple Drive
Tuxedo, N.Y. 10801

Re: Tuxedo Reserve
SEIS scope

Dear Supervisor Dolan and Honorable Members of the Board:

Thank you for allowing me to speak at the last Town Board meeting regarding the completeness of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) that has been submitted for the Tuxedo Reserve project. As requested, I am submitting my comments in writing.

While it is not usually difficult to determine if a scoped issue has been addressed and discussed, it is often difficult to decide whether a document has addressed the scoped issue in a manner so as to be truly considered “complete”. While an issue may indeed have been addressed in an EIS, it may have not been addressed adequately enough to satisfy the Lead Agency’s need, or may have even raised more questions which also need to be addressed. It is not sufficient to conclude that these issues can be further addressed in a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS), because a FSEIS is not subject to the same public review (i.e a public hearing), and, under SEQRA, comments on a FSEIS require no response.

My comments regarding completeness are therefore made in this context, and anything I include in this letter is something that I personally believe should be addressed before the SEIS is accepted as complete. While some may fall into a “gray area”, I believe all the items addressed herein are “completeness” issues, and should be addressed prior to public review. In assessing whether these are indeed completeness issues, I suggest the Town Board, in part, apply a standard of whether it is an issue that should be subjected to the greatest possible public review, for that is the true difference in requiring that it be addressed in the SEIS versus the FSEIS.

Cuts and Fills/Area of Disturbance Calculations

I was very glad to see a cuts and fills analysis in the SEIS. I am, however, discouraged by the lack of detail. Suddenly, the analysis shows never before seen, nor discussed, retaining walls (50 in total) and rock cuts (25 in total). There is nothing in the SEIS describing anything at all about these walls and cuts. How tall are the walls? What material are they made of? Are they gabion walls consisting of broken rock in metal mesh boxes, or perhaps something more aesthetically acceptable? What are the potential aesthetic/visual impacts of these retaining walls? Will they be vertical, sloping, or stepped? Once the roads are turned over to the Town, who will be responsible for maintaining them?

Similarly, more information is needed for the rock cuts. How tall are the rock cuts? What is the angle of repose? How much blasting will be required? Will blasting occur near sensitive receptors? What are the potential aesthetic/visual impacts of these rock cuts?

Stormwater Calculations

The amount of impervious surfaces is underestimated by the fact that the retaining walls noted above have not been included. Removing soil cover and exposing rock surfaces, especially in large areas of rock cut, will also increase the amount of impervious surfaces.

The SEIS calculates that there will be 150 acres of impervious surfaces resulting from the development as would occur under the proposed amendment, and that this represents an increase of 2 acres over the 148 acres that would occur under the project as previously approved. However, the last calculation of impervious surfaces reported to the Lead Agency was 138 acres in the FEIS for the previously approved project. The 150 acres represents an increase of 12 acres (8.7%) over the previously reported amount.

The significance of this difference is that the currently approved stormwater management plan is based on the 138 acres, and the stormwater management plan for the 150 acres in the proposed amended plan will need to accommodate a significantly increased amount of stormwater runoff than had been previously engineered. In addition, these calculated amounts will increase even further once the amount of impervious surface represented by the retaining walls and new exposed rock surfaces is added.

Groundwater Hydrology

As depicted in Figure 6-3, the proposed Mountain Lake neighborhood would be situated on top of a major bedrock fracture that runs along the axis defined by Mountain Lake and the NYSDEC wetland. A bedrock fracture acts very much like a pipe. It is a perfect conduit, transporting water quickly over a distance. The fracture under the Mountain Lake area intersects a second fracture within the NYSDEC wetland, which runs directly to the Ramapo River. It is therefore possible for contaminants to enter the fracture from the proposed new neighborhood, and contaminate both groundwater resources and the Ramapo River.

Rather than examine the potential for contamination to enter the fracture trace from the Mountain Lake neighborhood, the SEIS instead makes the case that “(i)t is unlikely that the proposed use of these lots will impact water quality in the underlying aquifer due to the lack of apparent hydraulic connection between the shallow and deep water zones in this area.”

To back up this claim, the SEIS states, “(t)he wetlands and lakes are not in hydraulic communication with the bedrock ground water bearing system, as the water levels in the bedrock aquifer are well below the elevation of water in the wetlands and lakes.” However, simply stated, a lake or wetland that is “in hydraulic communication with a bedrock ground water bearing system” is in common language said to be “spring fed.” Interestingly, the same SEIS describes Mountain Lake as “a 6.4-acre spring-fed water body located in the northern part of the Southern Tract.” This obvious discrepancy is very revealing, and is indicative that this issue should not be so readily dismissed. The lack of any true analysis of this potential impact therefore renders the SEIS incomplete.

In truth, where it runs under dry land, this fracture would be close to the surface, given the shallow depth of soil in that area. Therefore, it is especially susceptible to being a point of entry for any contaminants that would be produced from road runoff, pesticide usage, etc. Excavation activities could potentially expose this fracture even more. Whether the water table is near the surface is nearly irrelevant, as long as the opening to the fracture trace itself, much like the open end of a pipe, is located at or just below the surface.

Fiscal Impacts

Market values were derived from a Tuxedo Reserve market study conducted in July 2008. Market values peaked in June 2008, and are off from 7 to12+% from then. Even for a peak market, the values projected for the proposed housing seem very optimistic. The proposed estate houses could possibly be compared to a 3,352 square foot home that sold within Tuxedo Park within the last year. That home sits on 1.5 acres, which is at the upper end of the lot sizes for the estate houses, and much larger than most. It has 7 bedrooms, 3 more than what would be in the proposed estate houses, and sold for $950,000, more than a full half-million dollars cheaper than the projected price quoted for the estate houses. It is also noteworthy that this is the only home that has recently sold within Tuxedo Park, which likely signals that there is a soft demand for homes in the upper price range within Tuxedo. This can only drive prices even lower. The fiscal impact analysis in the SEIS may therefore be presenting a positive result that does not actually exist.

I also maintain that no fiscal impact analysis for the Tuxedo Reserve project can be considered complete unless it considers the strong possibility that the age restrictions may need to lifted in order to fully market all 1,195 proposed units. Such a scenario would completely change the outcome of the fiscal impact analysis. The applicant should also be required to submit a current market analysis for age-restricted housing.

I believe it is imperitive to require a revised fiscal impact analysis before the SEIS is accepted as complete. This is a critical issue which should be subjected to full public review and comment, and should therefore not be left to be corrected in the FSEIS.

Wildlife Habitat

I believe there are two completeness issues regarding wildlife habitat. The first specifically regards the Mountain Lake neighborhood. The SEIS acknowledges that the area lying in a direct line between Mountain Lake and the large New York State wetland is an important wildlife corridor. Building in this area will have a severe impact on this corridor. However, rather than providing a serious analysis of this impact, the SEIS claims that the “open space connection would still be maintained, but would be concentrated along the western boundary of the Southern Tract.”

It is interesting that the SEIS utilizes the phrase “open space connection” rather than “wildlife corridor.” While it is correct that a band of open space will indeed exist in the location noted, the use of the word “connection” is very misleading, in that it might imply a functional connection for wildlife, or even for potential trails. Such an implication, however, ignores the very steep ridge line that passes through this open space, which renders it useless as a corridor for amphibian passage between Mountain Lake and the NYSDEC wetland. Essentially, by pointing to the “open space connection”, the SEIS has dismissed the impact of the Mountain Lake development on this important wildlife corridor, providing no real analysis of the impact. It is my opinion that the SEIS is therefore incomplete in its treatment of this issue. The SEIS should provide a clear analysis of this impact, and include consideration of not putting any housing units within the area most utilized by wildlife. The potential impact on amphibians should be particularly highlighted. The provision of tunnels under the roadways for wildlife passage may provide some mitigation, but will not completely compensate for this impact.

The second completeness issue has to do with the revelation that a timber rattlesnake was sighted on the property. Yet, the SEIS still states, “(w)ildlife surveys of the Project Site, including the area in the vicinity of Mountain Lake, did not identify any threatened or endangered species.” The now infamous report of the rattlesnake sighting and ingestion is an indication that the timber rattlesnake study conducted by the applicant was inadequate, and it seems incredulous that the SEIS is still stating in print that no endangered or threatened species were identified on the Project Site. It is clear that this statement needs to be changed, and that change should be accommpanied by further analysis to resolve this obvious discrepancy.

Tuxedo Lake Watershed

A review by the Tuxedo Park Village Engineer found that the boundary of the watershed for Tuxedo Lake may be larger than indicated in the SEIS. This is largely due to the purported existence of drainage improvements in the South Gate Road/East Lake Road area that diverts stormwater toward Tuxedo Lake.

Conclusion

It is my professional belief that all the items discussed above are completeness issues that need to be addressed before the SEIS is accepted as complete and made available for public review. The changes proposed in the amendment are extensive and far-reaching, and should rightly be exposed to the greatest possible level of public input and review.

Should you wish to contact me regarding anything contained in this letter, please do not hesitate to call me at (845) 986-5350.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted,
Stephen M. Gross
Principal
Hudson Highlands Environmental Consulting

cc: Tuxedo Planning Board
N. Hays, Target Tuxedo

STEVE GROSS LETTER 6/09

June 18, 2009

Town of Tuxedo Town Board
1 Temple Drive
Tuxedo, N.Y. 10801

Re: Tuxedo Reserve
SEIS scope

Dear Supervisor Dolan and Honorable Members of the Board:

As the Board debates the scope of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), I hope you will consider the points I am about to raise in this letter on behalf of my clients, Target Tuxedo.

As noted by your counsel, Larry Wolinsky, SEQRA provides that a SEIS may be required by a lead agency to examine “adverse environmental impacts not addressed or inadequately addressed in the EIS,” and while the SEQRA documentation has been prepared by the applicant, it must, in the end, be accepted by the Town Board as their document, and reflective of their opinions and findings, which may or may not be shared by the applicant.

Provided below are issues which target Tuxedo and I believe meet the criteria described to be considered in the SEIS. Some issues are listed because the proposed changes in the project pose potentially new or increased impacts. Other issues are listed because it is our belief that these issues were not adequately addressed in the original EIS, and they are particularly significant in reagrd to the proposed amendment.

Original DEIS was inadequate

At the June 1 workshop meeting, Mr. Wolinsky noted that the Board could require issues not adequately covered in the EIS be included for additional study in the SEIS. In the opinion of Target Tuxedo, this is an important point. The applicant is once again back before the Town Board, asking approval for what is notably their third amendment to the previously approved plan. The given reason for these amendments is that further inspection of the property revealed conditions, such as vernal pools, wetlands, and steep slopes, that were either previously unknown or more severe than expected. This is clear evidence that the original SEQRA documentation was indeed inadequate.

Cuts and Fills/Area of Disturbance

This in large part stems from the lack of a cuts and fills analysis in the DEIS. There is no denying that the Tuxedo Reserve property is rugged, containing many areas of severely limiting steep slopes and rock outcrop. For a development in a rugged area like this, a basic, fundamental analysis should always include a calculation of the area of disturbance. This calculation, in turn, is necessarily dependent on a cut and fill analysis. Obviously, the outer extent of cuts and fills distant from a roadway or building construction becomes the outer perimeter of the area of disturbance.

The reason I refer to this exercise as basic and fundamental is that the analysis of all of the other physical impacts from land development is first dependent upon this cut and fill/area of disturbance calculation. The extent of vegetation removal can not be determined without it. The extent of wetland impact can not be determined without it. The impact upon wildlife habitats can not be determined without it. Stormwater calculations can not be determined without it, as the conversion of forested land to cleared land changes the coefficient of runoff used to calculate increases in the rate and volume of stormwater runoff. The impact on steep slopes can not be determined without it. The extent of blasting can not be determined without it. The list goes on.

Recently, the applicant submitted a map which purportedly indicated the “area of disturbance”. By the applicant’s own admission, the majority of this map was not based on any hard analysis, but rather, an arbitrary assumption that disturbance would be kept within 20 feet of all roadways. While this may be technically possible, it is unlikely. In at least one location, your own Town Engineer identified a stretch of roadway that would require a 30-foot high retaining wall to accomplish this feat of engineering. Absent a retaining wall, a 3 on 1 fill slope would extend at least 90 feet from the edge of the roadway. (It is notable that the wetland impact map provided by the applicant contradicts the area of disturbance map, indicating fills within the wetland buffer extending approximately 100 feet from the roadway.) With the retaining wall, the Town Board could be accepting a Town road that could carry a very high cost of maintenance and a potentially high liability. Either way, this is information that has yet to be formally presented to the Town Board as lead agency.

With this SEIS, the Town Board has both an opportunity and a responsibility to take a hard look, as required by SEQRA, by requiring that a full cuts and fills analysis be required for the entire property.

Fiscal Impacts

Age Restrictions

On another issue, I was also present at the March 24th workshop meeting when the applicant’s representative stated that the only way the fiscal impact analysis could “turn negative” would be if a new high school had to be built. This is not exactly true. There is another all-too-plausible scenario in which the fiscal impact could turn negative.

From the start, the applicant has represented to the Town that this project would have positive benefits for the Town. Chief among them was that it would be a positive tax ratable. A significant factor in making this representation is that a very large portion of the project would be age-restricted. This portion of the project would therefore contribute greatly to the school’s tax base, with no additional demand on services. Were this not true, and this portion of the project became available without restriction to all families, the demand on educational services would be significantly higher, and the project would become tax-negative, creating an additional tax burden on existing residents as a result.

To that point, I would like to draw the Planning Board’s attention to the attached article that recently appeared in the Star-Ledger in neighboring New Jersey. This article documents that the regional demand for age-restricted housing has evaporated, and more importantly, that Planning Board after Planning Board, in Town after Town, has been forced to reluctantly agree to lift the age restrictions on a long list of approved age-restricted developments. It seems nearly inevitable that such a fate awaits Tuxedo Reserve as well, yet the applicant has not retreated an inch from representing the project as being largely age-restricted and tax-positive, even to the point of stating that the only scenario in which the fiscal impact would be negative would be if a new high school would need to be built. Such a statement appears completely oblivious to the regional evaporation of demand for age-restricted housing, and the documented trend of approved projects having their restrictions on age lifted.

I therefore strongly recommend that the Planning Board require the applicant to submit a new, current market study for the type of housing that they are proposing, and that the applicant also be required to provide an alternative fiscal impact analysis that examines impacts under a scenario in which all age restrictions are lifted.

Assumptions

I also believe that the fiscal analysis that has been provided thusfar is itself heavily slanted to favor the developer’s position. The results of fiscal analyses can be manipulated to come out positive by either reducing the projected costs, or by inflating the revenue side. In this case, it appears that the revenue side of the equation has been inflated by utilizing extremely optimistic sale prices for the proposed housing units. The projected sale prices are used in the fiscal analysis to calculate the assessed values of the units for taxing purposes.

I believe a critical eye should be used in determining whether it is indeed valid to assume that the projected sales prices are realistic, and can be used to determine a real value, that in turn can be used to determine an assessed value for conducting a legitimate fiscal impact analysis. In the fiscal impact analysis, the applicant has represented that as many as 41 “estate houses” would sell for $1.46 million. These particular houses would be on lots as small as 16,875 square feet, or just over 1/3 of an acre. By comparison, a 12,776 square foot, 14 bedroom, 11 bath mansion in Tuxedo Park recently sold for $3.35 million. Rather than being on a tight lot surrounded by other homes, it sits on 3 acres fronting on Tuxedo Lake, with incredible views over the lake. It is hard to believe 41 buyers would find the proposed estate houses a good value by comparison.

The proposed estate houses could possibly be more directly compared to a 3,352 square foot home which sold within Tuxedo Park. That home sits on 1.5 acres, which is at the upper end of the lot sizes for the estate houses, and much larger than most. It has 7 bedrooms, 3 more than what would be in the proposed estate houses, and sold for $950,000, more than a full half-million dollars cheaper than the projected price quoted for the estate houses.

Beyond the manor houses, the applicant has also represented that as many as an additional 350 “manor houses” and “village houses” would also sell around $1.1 to $1.2 million. These homes would sit on very small lots, measuring only 0.29 acre and 0.18 acre, respectively. Is it truly reasonable to expect that these 350 homes would all sell for more than the $950,000 realized for the home on 1.5 acres within the very exclusive Tuxedo Park?

For nearly the same money, $946,400, Tuxedo reserve would offer as many as 158 “cottages” on lots measuring only 6500 square feet, or 0.15 acre. Is it truly reasonable to expect that there will be 158 willing buyers who would pay this sum for a 3-bedroom home on a tiny 0.15-acre lot, crammed next to other homes, when the same money could have purchased a 7-bedroom home on 1.5 acres, or fully 10 times the lot size?

The applicant’s fiscal impact analysis is therefore dependent on the assumption that more than 500 buyers can be found that would pay from just under $1 million to almost $1.5 million (in 2008 dollars) for these homes. Any new fiscal impact analysis should require a new market study to consider current economic conditions, and should be based on more realistic values for the proposed homes. It is very possible, if not likely, that the fiscal impact from this project would be negative if more conservative, realistic values are used in the analysis.

Mitigation should not be part of the analysis

I would also like to bring to the Board’s attention that the current fiscal analysis gives a dollar value to both the land being offered for a school site, as well as the offer to grade that land. It is improper for these items to be part of the fiscal impact analysis. The analysis should be limited to the positive and negative impacts of the proposed action by itself. After that is determined, then potential mitigative measures, such as the donation of land and services, can be evaluated as an offset to the anticipated impacts. But a donation is just that – a donation, and assigning a dollar value within the fiscal impact assessment is inappropriate. The donated land and grading would never be included as a line item in the school district’s annual budget, and would have no calculative impact on the budget, nor on the burden that taxpayers would pay. Yet, it is notable that some of the scenarios in the fiscal impact analysis are only tax positive once a positive credit for the land and grading is included.

Wildlife

There is no question that the area lying in a direct line between Mountain Lake and the large New York State wetland is an important wildlife corridor. Building in this area will have a severe impact on this corridor. The provision of tunnels under the roadways for wildlife passage may provide some mitigation, but will not completely compensate for this impact. The SEIS should provide a clear analysis of this impact, and include consideration of not putting any housing units within the area most utilized by wildlife. The potential impact on amphibians should be particularly highlighted.

The revelation that a timber rattlesnake was sighted on the property is an indication that the timber rattlesnake study conducted by the applicant may have been inadequate. It has come to our attention that the credentials of the lead investigator who conducted the study may be questionable as they regard rattlesnake investigations. Just prior to conducting the study, the lead investigator contacted Randy Stechert, a well-known rattlesnake expert in New York State, to request “training.” It is our belief that the Tuxedo Reserve property is the first time that this particular individual ever attempted to do a rattlesnake investigation. Given the recent revelation that a timber rattlesnake was indeed sighted on the property by others working for Tuxedo Reserve, we believe it is imperative to revisit this issue, perhaps this time using an expert chosen by and answerable to the Town directly.

Fracture Trace Analysis

The proposed Mountain Lake neighborhood would also be situated on top of a major bedrock fracture that runs along the axis defined by Mountain Lake and the NYSDEC wetland (see attached map). This fracture represents an interface between groundwater and surface water resources, as is evidenced by the presence of both Mountain Lake and the NYSDEC wetland along its axis. Where it runs under dry land, this fracture would be close to the surface, given the shallow depth of soil in that area. Therefore, it is especially susceptible to being a point of entry for any contaminants that would be produced from road runoff, pesticide usage, etc. Excavation activities could potentially expose this fracture even more.

A bedrock fracture acts very much like a pipe. It is a perfect conduit, transporting water quickly over a distance. The fracture under the Mountain Lake area intersects a second fracture within the NYSDEC wetland, which runs directly to the Ramapo River. It is therefore possible for contaminants to enter the fracture from the proposed new neighborhood, and contaminate both groundwater resources and the Ramapo River.

The SEIS should therefore examine the potential impact of placing the Mountain Lake neighborhood and associated road system over this fracture.

Open Space

The applicant has represented that the amount of open space will increase under the new amendment. This seems counterintuitive, given how areas previously proposed as open space would now be developed. Is this because the actual amount of land could increase with the PIPC land swap? Does this statement perhaps take into account setting aside the northern tract as open space? As part of the SEIS, the applicant should provide an understandable assessment of the impact on open space in general, and unfragmented blocks of open space in particular.

Wetlands

The Southgate Road entrance is being revised due to impacts on wetlands and vernal pools. How did this come up? Why weren’t these previously identified? Where is the additional study? The Planning Board asked the applicant for this same information, indicating that it has never been submitted. Clearly, this is new previously undisclosed information which has resulted in a proposed change to the project. As such, it should absolutely be provided as part of the SEIS. Particular emphasis should be placed the impacts that would occur to wetlands and vernal pools without the PIPC land swap.

Stormwater Runoff

The applicant has stated to the Planning Board that the amended project has been calculated to have approximately 50 acres of impervious surface more than the approved plan. Whether this is an error in the original calculations for the approved plan, or an actual increase resulting from the proposed amendment, it nonetheless represents a significant potential stormwater runoff impact that has not been considered under the previous SEQRA analysis. It is therefore an issue that is critical to be considered in the SEIS.

Traffic

As part of the proposed amendment, the applicant has stated that they will be eliminating certain proposed traffic improvements previously agreed to under the 2004 Special Permit. To support this change, the applicant cites traffic counts taken on July 2, 2008, to show that area traffic has decreased. However, it is entirely improper to take traffic counts in residential areas during the summer. Such counts would be expected to be lower. There is no school-generated traffic, and some percentage of the drivers who would normally be commuting during the peak hour are on vacation. This would be especially true on July 2, with the July 4 national holiday just two days away. When this point was raised during Planning Board review, the applicant cited additional counts taken in October that confirmed the July counts. However, the October counts were never submitted for review. This proposed project change should therefore not be approved without valid supporting studies provided in the SEIS.

In addition, the applicant is now proposing 33,000 square feet of commercial use, a 1000% increase over the 3,000 square feet previously approved. This obviously represents an increase in traffic that would be generated by the commercial component. The applicant has represented that the patrons of these commercial uses will come exclusively from within the development. If so, this should be documented with supporting evidence in the SEIS. Even if true, however, truck traffic and other forms of delivery necessary to support the commercial uses will increase.

This is an obvious increased impact as a result of the requested amendment, and should be analyzed in the SEIS.

Sewage Treatment

The proposed project will generate a significant amount of sewage, which will obviously need to be treated through a sewage treatment plant, whether that be a plant that serves the region, the Town, or limited solely to the confines of Tuxedo Reserve itself. Given that this project stands to double the Town’s population, it seems inconceivable that the implications of treating this waste have not been thoroughly examined to date. Depending on the treatment alternative chosen, the project may present serious implications to the receiving plant, and to the Ramapo River. This particular issue has generated great concern among many individuals and groups. As it is a direct impact of the proposed action, it should be discussed in the SEIS, if for no other reason than to expose the issue to public review and comment.

Tuxedo Lake Watershed

New development, including roadways, is now being proposed on approximately 30 acres within the Tuxedo Lake watershed. Tuxedo Lake is a drinking water supply for 700 residents within Tuxedo Park, and an additional 700 residents within the hamlet of Tuxedo. The potential impact on the water quality of Tuxedo Lake is a new issue associated with the proposed amendment that needs to be addressed in the SEIS.

Alternative Analyses

We completely support Mr. Wolinsky’s suggestion that the PIPC land swap be treated as a design alternative. From our investigation, we feel that the land swap actually coming to fruition is highly unlikely, even if it receives the full endorsement of the Town Board. As such, focus should rightly be placed on the plan without the land swap, with the land swap being only a possible alternative.

As the applicant has represented that the proposed amendment was prompted by the desire to avoid environmental constraints, such as steep slopes, wetlands, and vernal pools, it would be logical to examine another alternative that considers a reduction of the number of proposed units to achieve the same goal. It should be noted that the 2004 Special Permit was approved for “no more than 1,195 residential units.” It is therefore entirely appropriate to consider an alternative which would avoid identified impacts through a reduction in unit count. This includes not allowing the use of flag lots to “shoe-horn” in units to achieve the 1,195 unit count.

Conclusion

The issues discussed above contain serious implications for the proposed project, and for the Town of Tuxedo and its residents. The changes proposed in the amendment are extensive and far-reaching, and should rightly be exposed to the greatest possible level of public input and review. To that end, it is our sincere hope that the Board will accept the suggestion of Mr. Castricone to hold a public scoping session.

The bottom line is that the Board must approach the preparation of the SEIS with the idea that it will be their document, reflective of their opinions and conclusions, not the applicant’s. I understand that the Town’s consultants met with the applicant’s consultants, where some “give and take” occurred regarding the issues to be contained in the SEIS. I would strongly recommend that regardless of this negotiation, the Town Board requires that the SEIS includes an analysis of any issue that the Board sees fit, and that the scope includes all of the issues discussed in this letter.

Should you wish to contact me regarding anything contained in this letter, please do not hesitate to call me at (845) 986-5350.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted

Stephen M. Gross
Principal
Hudson Highlands Environmental Consulting

cc: Tuxedo Planning Board
N. Hays, Target Tuxedo


STEVE GROSS LETTER 4/09

April 6, 2009

Town of Tuxedo Planning Board
1 Temple Drive
Tuxedo, N.Y. 10801

Re: Proposed Amendment
Tuxedo Reserve

Dear Honorable Members of the Board:

On behalf of my clients, Target Tuxedo, I am pleased to see that the Planning Board has requested that the applicant provide the Board with cuts and fills estimates. I must, however, disagree somewhat with a response that was given to the Board by your engineering consultant at the March 31st workshop meeting. He stated that the applicant provided an estimate of the area of disturbance, and that the actual cuts and fills were unnecessary. Yes, having the projected area of disturbance is a very critical piece of information that was previously absent, but is only one large piece of a bigger puzzle. It is also critical to have the actual estimates of cuts and fills, inclusive of a map that indicates the actual topographic changes. It is also important to know which cuts will occur in rock, and which will occur in unconsolidated material (soil). Cuts that occur in rock will require blasting, and will generate a larger volume of fill material than what was cut.

Make no mistake – the applicant has this information. It is the basis of how the area of disturbance was calculated, as well as the determination of the “balanced” nature of the cuts and fills. They used this study as a tool; there is no reason why the Planning Board and its consultants should be denied the use of the same tool. It is, in fact, the only way in which the Town can review and affirm that the area of disturbance shown as being correct. I listened as your consultant characterized the mapping of the area of disturbance as being “conservative”. I would submit to you that there is no way to reliably make such a determination without being able to examine the basis (i.e. the topographic changes necessary for grading) that resulted in the mapped area of disturbance. Accordingly, I hope the Planning Board will not back off from making sure it is provided with the full extent of information it requested.

Fiscal Impacts

On another issue, I was also present at the March 24th workshop meeting when the applicant’s representative stated that the only way the fiscal impact analysis could “turn negative” would be if a new high school had to be built. This is not exactly true. There is another all-too-plausible scenario in which the fiscal impact could turn negative.

From the start, the applicant has represented to the Town that this project would have positive benefits for the Town. Chief among them was that it would be a positive tax ratable. A significant factor in making this representation is that a very large portion of the project would be age-restricted, with no school-aged children allowed. This portion of the project would therefore contribute greatly to the school’s tax base, with no additional demand on services. Were this not true, and this portion of the project be available without restriction to all families, the demand on educational services would be significantly higher, and the project would become tax-negative, creating an additional tax burden on existing residents as a result.

To that point, I would like to draw the Planning Board’s attention to the attached article that recently appeared in the Star-Ledger in neighboring New Jersey. This article documents that the regional demand for age-restricted housing has evaporated, and more importantly, that Planning Board after Planning Board, in Town after Town, has been forced to reluctantly agree to lift the age restrictions on a long list of approved age-restricted developments. It seems nearly inevitable that such a fate awaits Tuxedo reserve as well, yet the applicant has not retreated an inch from representing the project as being largely age-restricted and tax-positive, even to the point of stating that the only scenario in which the fiscal impact would be negative would be if a new high school would need to be built. Such a statement appears completely oblivious to the regional evaporation of demand for age-restricted housing, and the documented trend of approved projects having their restrictions on age lifted.

I therefore strongly recommend that the Planning Board require the applicant to submit a new, current market study for the type of housing that they are proposing, and that the applicant also be required to provide an alternative fiscal impact analysis that examines impacts under a scenario in which all age restrictions are lifted.

SEIS

Both the issue regarding topographic changes/cuts and fills, and the potential greater fiscal impact illustrate quite clearly why there is a need for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). In the case of topographic changes/cuts and fills, it is clear that this issue was not adequately studied under the original SEQRA process. By the applicant’s own representations, the proposed amendment was precipitated by the fact that in-the-field conditions were more limiting to the construction of roadways and housing sites than they had previously believed from the assessments they had made. At least one of the previous two amendments was also the result of the same sort of “discovery”. Yet, the applicant, and by extension, the Town Board and Planning Board, relied on the studies provided by the applicant to conclude that not only was the massive project approved not only feasible, but that it also would result in an acceptable level of environmental impact.

It is clear now from multiple amendment requests, as well as the applicant’s representations as to how undesirable it would be to develop the property as originally approved, that the original SEQRA process failed to disclose the true site conditions, nor the impacts that would have resulted if developed as it was approved. It should not take three subsequent amendments to “get it right”. Rather, the Town, through either the Town Board as Lead Agency or the Planning Board, should take the opportunity of this current amendment to properly revisit these critical issues within the SEQRA process, requiring full and complete information from the applicant, and opening up everything to the light of public and interested agency review. This Planning Board has conducted itself in an admirable fashion, trying to gain as complete an understanding as is possible with an applicant that has at times continued to provide excuses instead of information. Perhaps, through the process dictated by SEQRA, earlier deficiencies can be corrected, and the good work of the Planning Board can be supplemented in the course of public and agency review.

Requiring an SEIS would also subject the issue of developing on the PIPC land to its first SEQRA review. No information about this acreage, nor the impact of developing upon it, has ever been available for public review.

Previous SEQRA review indicated that the Mountain Lake area now proposed for development was undevelopable, as it was constrained by steeps slopes, rock outcrops, and constituted a significant wildlife corridor. The current application now downplays these same issues. This should be fully studied in an SEIS, with comparison made to representations made in previous SEQRA documentation. How has this area suddenly become “developable”?

I am hopeful that you find this letter essentially unnecessary in that you have already decided as a Board to recommend that the Town Board as lead agency require the preparation of an SEIS. I am equally hopeful, however, that you will find the information I have provided regarding cuts and fills/grading impacts and fiscal impacts to be useful, and that you will consider it carefully in when making your recommendations to the Town Board.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted,
Stephen M. Gross
Principal
Hudson Highlands Environmental Consulting

cc: Tuxedo Town Board
N. Hays, Target Tuxedo


STEVE GROSS LETTER 3/09

March 12, 2009

Town of Tuxedo Planning Board
1 Temple Drive
Tuxedo, N.Y. 10801

Re: Proposed Amendment
Tuxedo Reserve

Dear Honorable Members of the Board:

I have watched with great interest the diligent manner in which the Planning Board has conducted their review of the proposed amendment to Tuxedo Reserve. On behalf of my clients, Target Tuxedo, I wish to express my appreciation for the hard work that this Board has put into this effort. I am writing now to provide support to the Board on an issue that was raised by member Mary Hansen at the last Planning Board meeting.

Andrew Dance was asked to provide the Planning Board with a cut and fill analysis. His response was to claim that such an analysis was done, but was so preliminary in nature that he deemed it to be of insufficient value to provide to the Board. In particular, he cited how it would be changed as final engineering was done, and even to the point that adjustments would be made in the field. Interestingly, it was at this point he looked directly at me, and asked, “Is there an issue here?” It was as if he read my mind, for indeed there is.

In my career, I have personally written dozens of Environmental Impact Statements, as well as reviewing several others working as a Town consultant. For a development such as this, a basic, fundamental analysis always included a calculation of the area of disturbance. This calculation, in turn, is necessarily dependent on a cut and fill analysis. Obviously, the outer extent of cuts and fills distant from a roadway or building construction becomes the outer perimeter of the area of disturbance.

The reason I refer to this exercise as basic and fundamental is that the analysis of all of the other physical impacts from land development is first dependent upon this cut and fill/area of disturbance calculation. The extent of vegetation removal can not be determined without it. The extent of wetland impact can not be determined without it. The impact upon wildlife habitats can not be determined without it. Stormwater calculations can not be determined without it, as the conversion of forested land to cleared land changes the coefficient of runoff used to calculate increases in the rate and volume of stormwater runoff. The impact on steep slopes can not be determined without it. The extent of blasting can not be determined without it. The list goes on. Therefore, the very fact that all of these analyses were conducted confirms that such an analysis was indeed done. Mr. Dance, of course, also confirmed its existence.

Consider the lack of logic in Mr. Dance’s response to the Board. He is stating that he does not believe that the cut and fill analysis should be provided because it is “preliminary”. If that is the case, then how is any information submitted by the applicant to be considered reliable? With this logic, Mr. Dance calls into question the stormwater analysis, and all the other analyses of impacts that are necessarily based on the cut and fill/area of disturbance analysis that they had to rely on. If the cut and fill analysis is too preliminary to submit to the Board, then why was it considered adequate and reliable enough to form the basis for all of the other engineering and SEQRA analyses that have been presented to the Town? Are the results of these studies therefore themselves inadequate and unreliable? Perhaps, in fact, they are. I sincerely doubt, however, that this is the position that Mr. Dance wishes to take.

In my experience, the only instance in which an applicant holds back a cut and fill analysis is when it reveals that the extent of physical disturbance on a property may prove somewhat shocking to the reviewing agency and the public. Such was the case with Sterling Forge Estates, and the eventual provision of the cut and fill analysis for that project revealed the true “eye-opening” extent of environmental impact that would have resulted from that project. Given the extreme rugged terrain on the Tuxedo Reserve project site, requiring a cut and fill analysis for the benefit of the Planning Board’s review is absolutely essential.

Notice that I put “essential” in italics. Consider it to also be bolded, underlined, and have a circle and stars drawn around it. I can not emphasize this point enough. Unless the Planning Board and Town Board have this information available for their review, it is absolutely impossible for the Town of Tuxedo to have conducted a “hard look” as required under SEQRA, making any decision that is eventually made easily challengeable by affected parties.

While I am on the issue of SEQRA, allow me to also reiterate the obvious need for this amendment to be subject to a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). The applicant has attempted to circumvent this requirement by providing a “Draft Technical Memo”. Such a document, however, has no standing under SEQRA. The same information, plus more that has already been requested by the Planning Board, should be formally embodied in a SEIS, commensurate with the required public scoping session, interested and involved agency reviews, and public comment and hearings. There is no doubt that, given the large scope of changes proposed, the potential addition of land not previously studied, the introduction of development into areas not previously considered, and the whole host of issues correctly raised by the Planning Board, that this amendment clearly exceeds the threshold needed to require further SEQRA review.

On behalf of my clients, I therefore implore you to demand that the applicant provide the requested cut and fill analysis, and that you also recommend to the Town Board that a SEIS be required.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted,
Stephen M. Gross
Principal
Hudson Highlands Environmental Consulting

cc: Tuxedo Town Board
N. Hays, Target Tuxedo


STEVE GROSS LETTER 1/09

January 7, 2009

Town of Tuxedo Planning Board
1 Temple Drive
Tuxedo, N.Y. 10801

Re: Proposed Amendment
Tuxedo Reserve

Dear Honorable Members of the Board:

I have been requested by Target Tuxedo to review the proposed amendment to the Tuxedo Reserve project. I have examined the proposed amendment, as well as past SEQRA documents, plans, and environmental resource mapping. I offer the following comments for your consideration.

General Comments

It is clear that this proposed amendment represents a substantial change from the configuration that was considered and approved under the previous SEQRA analysis. It is also clear that several aspects of the proposed amendment represent an increased potential for environmental impacts that need to be assessed under SEQRA.

In general, the site is very rugged, and new development is being proposed in areas not previously studied. This alone should require an SEIS. But in addition, the amendment proposes to increase retail space within the project by a factor of 11, from 3,000 square feet to 33,000 square feet (including the proposed farmer’s market.) Clearly, this 1100% increase of retail represents a potential increase in impacts in such areas as traffic, fiscal impacts, impact of businesses within the hamlet, and increased physical impacts to accommodate the increased square footage.

On behalf of Target Tuxedo, I therefore respectfully and strongly request that the Planning Board recommend to the Town Board as lead agency that they require a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to address these issues.

My specific comments regarding the proposed amendment are as follows:

Cuts and Fills

As noted, the project site is very rugged. The most significant impacts of developing the site are likely to come from the manipulation of the terrain to accommodate the proposed development. The only way to adequately assess these impacts is to do a cut and fill analysis. Cuts and fills often extend far beyond the ROW for a road, or from the footprint of a structure. While the applicant has provided idyllic drawings of what residential units built on stilts would potentially look like, it is likely that these units would be built on an extensive fill slope below the adjacent roadway, and that this fill slope would extend far beyond the footprint of the housing units themselves.

Yet, it does not appear that a cut and fill analysis has ever been provided to either the Planning Board nor to the Town Board. The applicant has apparently performed such an analysis, as can be inferred from looking at Tuxedo Reserve Preliminary Plan Figure 4-3: Southern Tract Wetlands and Wetland Disturbance Buffer. This figure indicates several areas of grading disturbances that are within the wetland buffer. These grading impacts can only have been derived from a cuts and fills analysis, of which the Board has only been provided that portion which extends into a wetlands or wetlands buffer. Why hasn’t the applicant provided the entire cuts and fills analysis?

By looking at Figure 4-3, however, the extent of at least some of the cuts and fills can be inferred. I ask the members of the Board to note how distant the identified buffer grading impacts are from the actual source of the grading. Examples include the fill below the two end lots on Tucseto Trail, which even extends significantly beyond the lot lines, and the road grading west of Bridle Trail Road north of Bluff Lane (see insert). In the Bridle Trail Road example, note how distant the western edge of the “road grading” is from the road itself. Again, these impacts are being disclosed solely because they fall within the regulated wetlands buffer. One can only imagine the total extent of cuts and fills along both sides of the rest of the roadway, as well as the total depth of the fill. Likewise, a cuts and fills analysis elsewhere on the property, especially where the slopes are at their steepest, would likely reveal significant impacts heretofore not disclosed during SEQRA.

plan

Such a cuts and fills analysis was, in fact, required by the Tuxedo Town Board for Sterling Forge Estates. Once completed, several significant areas of impacts were disclosed. The most remarkable of these was at the entrance road from Long Meadow Road, where an examination of the cuts and fills revealed that there would be a 98-foot cut on the west side of the road, a 28-foot fill on the east side of the road, terminating at an retaining wall, measuring an additional 14-20 feet high at the wetland boundary, with all of it being readily visible from Long Meadow Road. NONE of these impacts were identified in any SEQRA document.

I understand that a somewhat similar situation occurred in the North Ridge Review, resulting in additional land being bought to accommodate a redesigned Quail Road. The lessons learned from that review should be applied here, but with the cuts and fills analysis being required as part of the SEQRA process. Given this recent experience, it is especially difficult to conceive that the lead agency can satisfy the legal requirement to take a “hard look” under SEQRA without such an analysis.

I will also note that without the availability of a cuts and fills analysis on the originally approved plan, it is impossible to determine the veracity of the applicant’s assertion that the proposed amendment does not represent an increased potential impact over the approved plan. I believe, given the ruggedness of the terrain, particularly in the “new” Mountain Lake area, that a cuts and fills analysis is essential, and should be required as part of an SEIS, just as it was for Sterling Forge Estates.

Blasting

Along with the cuts and fills analysis, an analysis of the potential need for blasting should also be assessed. This is very different from developing protocol for a blasting program. Rather, this analysis, which would be based on the cuts and fills analysis, would project how much bedrock would need to be removed. The area being developed suffers from a large amount of exposed bedrock and extremely shallow soils over bedrock. It is likely that most of the material which would need to be cut would be bedrock rather than soil.

It is also noteworthy that the particular bedrock in this area consists of very hard, dense material, which will likely require blasting rather than mechanical chipping. Removal will likely be prolonged, and loud. The broken material will also expand in volume, meaning that the amount of resulting fill material will consist of a significantly greater volume than that which was cut. It is extremely likely that excess material will need to be transported offsite, adding long-term truck traffic to area roads.

Wildlife

It is notable that the Mountain Lake area was previously identified as a major wildlife corridor. This makes perfect sense, given its situation between two major wetland areas. This, along with the presence of extremely steep slopes, may have in fact been a major factor in why this area had been previously set aside and not proposed for development. Despite the attempt to provide some limited wildlife corridors through the new development area, there is no question that the Mountain Lake development represents a significantly increased impact on wildlife habitat than that which existed under the approved plan, and should be examined as part of an SEIS.

Commercial Development

As previously stated, the commercial component of the proposed amendment, at a total of 33,000 square feet, represents a 1100% increase over the approved plan’s 3,000 square feet. There is no question that this represents a potential increased impact over the approved plan. An SEIS should examine impacts from increased traffic, fiscal impacts, and the impact on the existing business district in the hamlet.

Traffic

The assertion that traffic in the area has decreased from previous levels seems absurd. This measured “reduction” is explainable when it is seen that the new counts were taken during the July 4th vacation week. It is a cardinal rule of traffic analysis that counts are not taken during the summer when commuter traffic is lighter due to vacations, and all school-generated traffic is completely absent. It is especially important to not take counts during a high vacation week such as July 4th. In this application, the applicant has proposed a reduction in the traffic mitigation measures that were agreed upon with the original approval. No such reduction should be allowed based on these obviously unreliable counts. Rather, the applicant should be required to provide additional analysis for potential new traffic generated by the new commercial space, as well as trucks transporting blasted material offsite.

Summary

The Planning Board is to be commended for its diligence in carefully examining the details of the proposed amendment, including the multiple meetings that it held within a very short period of time for that purpose. However, this effort should not be substituted for the benefits that would be derived from requiring a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Even after the extreme effort made by the Planning Board, many unanswered questions remain, of which I have listed only a portion herein.

Given the huge scope of this project, and that of the proposed amendment, as well as the ruggedness and environmental sensitivity of the project site, it is imperative that this proposed amendment be given the “hard look” required under SEQRA by requiring a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. This will also provide the public with a reasonable vehicle for substantive input.

Thank you for your consideration of my comments.

Respectfully submitted,
Stephen M. Gross
Principal
Hudson Highlands Environmental Consulting

cc: Tuxedo Town Board
N. Hays, Target Tuxedo

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Consultant For Target Tuxedo Raises Issues With Tuxedo Reserve

Steve Gross, consultant to the citizens action group Target Tuxedo, has submitted the following letter to the Town Board on behalf of the group with regard to the Tuxedo Reserve Development. In the letter, Mr. Gross outlines several key issues relative to the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the project.

June 18, 2009

Town of Tuxedo Town Board
1 Temple Drive
Tuxedo, N.Y. 10801

Re: Tuxedo Reserve
SEIS scope

Dear Supervisor Dolan and Honorable Members of the Board:

As the Board debates the scope of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), I hope you will consider the points I am about to raise in this letter on behalf of my clients, Target Tuxedo.

As noted by your counsel, Larry Wolinsky, SEQRA provides that a SEIS may be required by a lead agency to examine “adverse environmental impacts not addressed or inadequately addressed in the EIS,” and while the SEQRA documentation has been prepared by the applicant, it must, in the end, be accepted by the Town Board as their document, and reflective of their opinions and findings, which may or may not be shared by the applicant.

Provided below are issues which target Tuxedo and I believe meet the criteria described to be considered in the SEIS. Some issues are listed because the proposed changes in the project pose potentially new or increased impacts. Other issues are listed because it is our belief that these issues were not adequately addressed in the original EIS, and they are particularly significant in reagrd to the proposed amendment.

Original DEIS was inadequate

At the June 1 workshop meeting, Mr. Wolinsky noted that the Board could require issues not adequately covered in the EIS be included for additional study in the SEIS. In the opinion of Target Tuxedo, this is an important point. The applicant is once again back before the Town Board, asking approval for what is notably their third amendment to the previously approved plan. The given reason for these amendments is that further inspection of the property revealed conditions, such as vernal pools, wetlands, and steep slopes, that were either previously unknown or more severe than expected. This is clear evidence that the original SEQRA documentation was indeed inadequate.

Cuts and Fills/Area of Disturbance

This in large part stems from the lack of a cuts and fills analysis in the DEIS. There is no denying that the Tuxedo Reserve property is rugged, containing many areas of severely limiting steep slopes and rock outcrop. For a development in a rugged area like this, a basic, fundamental analysis should always include a calculation of the area of disturbance. This calculation, in turn, is necessarily dependent on a cut and fill analysis. Obviously, the outer extent of cuts and fills distant from a roadway or building construction becomes the outer perimeter of the area of disturbance.

The reason I refer to this exercise as basic and fundamental is that the analysis of all of the other physical impacts from land development is first dependent upon this cut and fill/area of disturbance calculation. The extent of vegetation removal can not be determined without it. The extent of wetland impact can not be determined without it. The impact upon wildlife habitats can not be determined without it. Stormwater calculations can not be determined without it, as the conversion of forested land to cleared land changes the coefficient of runoff used to calculate increases in the rate and volume of stormwater runoff. The impact on steep slopes can not be determined without it. The extent of blasting can not be determined without it. The list goes on.

Recently, the applicant submitted a map which purportedly indicated the “area of disturbance”. By the applicant’s own admission, the majority of this map was not based on any hard analysis, but rather, an arbitrary assumption that disturbance would be kept within 20 feet of all roadways. While this may be technically possible, it is unlikely. In at least one location, your own Town Engineer identified a stretch of roadway that would require a 30-foot high retaining wall to accomplish this feat of engineering. Absent a retaining wall, a 3 on 1 fill slope would extend at least 90 feet from the edge of the roadway. (It is notable that the wetland impact map provided by the applicant contradicts the area of disturbance map, indicating fills within the wetland buffer extending approximately 100 feet from the roadway.) With the retaining wall, the Town Board could be accepting a Town road that could carry a very high cost of maintenance and a potentially high liability. Either way, this is information that has yet to be formally presented to the Town Board as lead agency.

With this SEIS, the Town Board has both an opportunity and a responsibility to take a hard look, as required by SEQRA, by requiring that a full cuts and fills analysis be required for the entire property.

Fiscal Impacts

Age Restrictions

On another issue, I was also present at the March 24th workshop meeting when the applicant’s representative stated that the only way the fiscal impact analysis could “turn negative” would be if a new high school had to be built. This is not exactly true. There is another all-too-plausible scenario in which the fiscal impact could turn negative.

From the start, the applicant has represented to the Town that this project would have positive benefits for the Town. Chief among them was that it would be a positive tax ratable. A significant factor in making this representation is that a very large portion of the project would be age-restricted. This portion of the project would therefore contribute greatly to the school’s tax base, with no additional demand on services. Were this not true, and this portion of the project became available without restriction to all families, the demand on educational services would be significantly higher, and the project would become tax-negative, creating an additional tax burden on existing residents as a result.

To that point, I would like to draw the Planning Board’s attention to the attached article that recently appeared in the Star-Ledger in neighboring New Jersey. This article documents that the regional demand for age-restricted housing has evaporated, and more importantly, that Planning Board after Planning Board, in Town after Town, has been forced to reluctantly agree to lift the age restrictions on a long list of approved age-restricted developments. It seems nearly inevitable that such a fate awaits Tuxedo Reserve as well, yet the applicant has not retreated an inch from representing the project as being largely age-restricted and tax-positive, even to the point of stating that the only scenario in which the fiscal impact would be negative would be if a new high school would need to be built. Such a statement appears completely oblivious to the regional evaporation of demand for age-restricted housing, and the documented trend of approved projects having their restrictions on age lifted.

I therefore strongly recommend that the Planning Board require the applicant to submit a new, current market study for the type of housing that they are proposing, and that the applicant also be required to provide an alternative fiscal impact analysis that examines impacts under a scenario in which all age restrictions are lifted.

Assumptions

I also believe that the fiscal analysis that has been provided thusfar is itself heavily slanted to favor the developer’s position. The results of fiscal analyses can be manipulated to come out positive by either reducing the projected costs, or by inflating the revenue side. In this case, it appears that the revenue side of the equation has been inflated by utilizing extremely optimistic sale prices for the proposed housing units. The projected sale prices are used in the fiscal analysis to calculate the assessed values of the units for taxing purposes.

I believe a critical eye should be used in determining whether it is indeed valid to assume that the projected sales prices are realistic, and can be used to determine a real value, that in turn can be used to determine an assessed value for conducting a legitimate fiscal impact analysis. In the fiscal impact analysis, the applicant has represented that as many as 41 “estate houses” would sell for $1.46 million. These particular houses would be on lots as small as 16,875 square feet, or just over 1/3 of an acre. By comparison, a 12,776 square foot, 14 bedroom, 11 bath mansion in Tuxedo Park recently sold for $3.35 million. Rather than being on a tight lot surrounded by other homes, it sits on 3 acres fronting on Tuxedo Lake, with incredible views over the lake. It is hard to believe 41 buyers would find the proposed estate houses a good value by comparison.

The proposed estate houses could possibly be more directly compared to a 3,352 square foot home which sold within Tuxedo Park. That home sits on 1.5 acres, which is at the upper end of the lot sizes for the estate houses, and much larger than most. It has 7 bedrooms, 3 more than what would be in the proposed estate houses, and sold for $950,000, more than a full half-million dollars cheaper than the projected price quoted for the estate houses.

Beyond the manor houses, the applicant has also represented that as many as an additional 350 “manor houses” and “village houses” would also sell around $1.1 to $1.2 million. These homes would sit on very small lots, measuring only 0.29 acre and 0.18 acre, respectively. Is it truly reasonable to expect that these 350 homes would all sell for more than the $950,000 realized for the home on 1.5 acres within the very exclusive Tuxedo Park?

For nearly the same money, $946,400, Tuxedo reserve would offer as many as 158 “cottages” on lots measuring only 6500 square feet, or 0.15 acre. Is it truly reasonable to expect that there will be 158 willing buyers who would pay this sum for a 3-bedroom home on a tiny 0.15-acre lot, crammed next to other homes, when the same money could have purchased a 7-bedroom home on 1.5 acres, or fully 10 times the lot size?

The applicant’s fiscal impact analysis is therefore dependent on the assumption that more than 500 buyers can be found that would pay from just under $1 million to almost $1.5 million (in 2008 dollars) for these homes. Any new fiscal impact analysis should require a new market study to consider current economic conditions, and should be based on more realistic values for the proposed homes. It is very possible, if not likely, that the fiscal impact from this project would be negative if more conservative, realistic values are used in the analysis.

Mitigation should not be part of the analysis

I would also like to bring to the Board’s attention that the current fiscal analysis gives a dollar value to both the land being offered for a school site, as well as the offer to grade that land. It is improper for these items to be part of the fiscal impact analysis. The analysis should be limited to the positive and negative impacts of the proposed action by itself. After that is determined, then potential mitigative measures, such as the donation of land and services, can be evaluated as an offset to the anticipated impacts. But a donation is just that – a donation, and assigning a dollar value within the fiscal impact assessment is inappropriate. The donated land and grading would never be included as a line item in the school district’s annual budget, and would have no calculative impact on the budget, nor on the burden that taxpayers would pay. Yet, it is notable that some of the scenarios in the fiscal impact analysis are only tax positive once a positive credit for the land and grading is included.

Wildlife

There is no question that the area lying in a direct line between Mountain Lake and the large New York State wetland is an important wildlife corridor. Building in this area will have a severe impact on this corridor. The provision of tunnels under the roadways for wildlife passage may provide some mitigation, but will not completely compensate for this impact. The SEIS should provide a clear analysis of this impact, and include consideration of not putting any housing units within the area most utilized by wildlife. The potential impact on amphibians should be particularly highlighted.

The revelation that a timber rattlesnake was sighted on the property is an indication that the timber rattlesnake study conducted by the applicant may have been inadequate. It has come to our attention that the credentials of the lead investigator who conducted the study may be questionable as they regard rattlesnake investigations. Just prior to conducting the study, the lead investigator contacted Randy Stechert, a well-known rattlesnake expert in New York State, to request “training.” It is our belief that the Tuxedo Reserve property is the first time that this particular individual ever attempted to do a rattlesnake investigation. Given the recent revelation that a timber rattlesnake was indeed sighted on the property by others working for Tuxedo Reserve, we believe it is imperative to revisit this issue, perhaps this time using an expert chosen by and answerable to the Town directly.

Fracture Trace Analysis

The proposed Mountain Lake neighborhood would also be situated on top of a major bedrock fracture that runs along the axis defined by Mountain Lake and the NYSDEC wetland (see attached map). This fracture represents an interface between groundwater and surface water resources, as is evidenced by the presence of both Mountain Lake and the NYSDEC wetland along its axis. Where it runs under dry land, this fracture would be close to the surface, given the shallow depth of soil in that area. Therefore, it is especially susceptible to being a point of entry for any contaminants that would be produced from road runoff, pesticide usage, etc. Excavation activities could potentially expose this fracture even more.

A bedrock fracture acts very much like a pipe. It is a perfect conduit, transporting water quickly over a distance. The fracture under the Mountain Lake area intersects a second fracture within the NYSDEC wetland, which runs directly to the Ramapo River. It is therefore possible for contaminants to enter the fracture from the proposed new neighborhood, and contaminate both groundwater resources and the Ramapo River.

The SEIS should therefore examine the potential impact of placing the Mountain Lake neighborhood and associated road system over this fracture.

Open Space

The applicant has represented that the amount of open space will increase under the new amendment. This seems counterintuitive, given how areas previously proposed as open space would now be developed. Is this because the actual amount of land could increase with the PIPC land swap? Does this statement perhaps take into account setting aside the northern tract as open space? As part of the SEIS, the applicant should provide an understandable assessment of the impact on open space in general, and unfragmented blocks of open space in particular.

Wetlands

The Southgate Road entrance is being revised due to impacts on wetlands and vernal pools. How did this come up? Why weren’t these previously identified? Where is the additional study? The Planning Board asked the applicant for this same information, indicating that it has never been submitted. Clearly, this is new previously undisclosed information which has resulted in a proposed change to the project. As such, it should absolutely be provided as part of the SEIS. Particular emphasis should be placed the impacts that would occur to wetlands and vernal pools without the PIPC land swap.

Stormwater Runoff

The applicant has stated to the Planning Board that the amended project has been calculated to have approximately 50 acres of impervious surface more than the approved plan. Whether this is an error in the original calculations for the approved plan, or an actual increase resulting from the proposed amendment, it nonetheless represents a significant potential stormwater runoff impact that has not been considered under the previous SEQRA analysis. It is therefore an issue that is critical to be considered in the SEIS.

Traffic

As part of the proposed amendment, the applicant has stated that they will be eliminating certain proposed traffic improvements previously agreed to under the 2004 Special Permit. To support this change, the applicant cites traffic counts taken on July 2, 2008, to show that area traffic has decreased. However, it is entirely improper to take traffic counts in residential areas during the summer. Such counts would be expected to be lower. There is no school-generated traffic, and some percentage of the drivers who would normally be commuting during the peak hour are on vacation. This would be especially true on July 2, with the July 4 national holiday just two days away. When this point was raised during Planning Board review, the applicant cited additional counts taken in October that confirmed the July counts. However, the October counts were never submitted for review. This proposed project change should therefore not be approved without valid supporting studies provided in the SEIS.

In addition, the applicant is now proposing 33,000 square feet of commercial use, a 1000% increase over the 3,000 square feet previously approved. This obviously represents an increase in traffic that would be generated by the commercial component. The applicant has represented that the patrons of these commercial uses will come exclusively from within the development. If so, this should be documented with supporting evidence in the SEIS. Even if true, however, truck traffic and other forms of delivery necessary to support the commercial uses will increase.

This is an obvious increased impact as a result of the requested amendment, and should be analyzed in the SEIS.

Sewage Treatment

The proposed project will generate a significant amount of sewage, which will obviously need to be treated through a sewage treatment plant, whether that be a plant that serves the region, the Town, or limited solely to the confines of Tuxedo Reserve itself. Given that this project stands to double the Town’s population, it seems inconceivable that the implications of treating this waste have not been thoroughly examined to date. Depending on the treatment alternative chosen, the project may present serious implications to the receiving plant, and to the Ramapo River. This particular issue has generated great concern among many individuals and groups. As it is a direct impact of the proposed action, it should be discussed in the SEIS, if for no other reason than to expose the issue to public review and comment.

Tuxedo Lake Watershed

New development, including roadways, is now being proposed on approximately 30 acres within the Tuxedo Lake watershed. Tuxedo Lake is a drinking water supply for 700 residents within Tuxedo Park, and an additional 700 residents within the hamlet of Tuxedo. The potential impact on the water quality of Tuxedo Lake is a new issue associated with the proposed amendment that needs to be addressed in the SEIS.

Alternative Analyses

We completely support Mr. Wolinsky’s suggestion that the PIPC land swap be treated as a design alternative. From our investigation, we feel that the land swap actually coming to fruition is highly unlikely, even if it receives the full endorsement of the Town Board. As such, focus should rightly be placed on the plan without the land swap, with the land swap being only a possible alternative.

As the applicant has represented that the proposed amendment was prompted by the desire to avoid environmental constraints, such as steep slopes, wetlands, and vernal pools, it would be logical to examine another alternative that considers a reduction of the number of proposed units to achieve the same goal. It should be noted that the 2004 Special Permit was approved for “no more than 1,195 residential units.” It is therefore entirely appropriate to consider an alternative which would avoid identified impacts through a reduction in unit count. This includes not allowing the use of flag lots to “shoe-horn” in units to achieve the 1,195 unit count.

Conclusion

The issues discussed above contain serious implications for the proposed project, and for the Town of Tuxedo and its residents. The changes proposed in the amendment are extensive and far-reaching, and should rightly be exposed to the greatest possible level of public input and review. To that end, it is our sincere hope that the Board will accept the suggestion of Mr. Castricone to hold a public scoping session.

The bottom line is that the Board must approach the preparation of the SEIS with the idea that it will be their document, reflective of their opinions and conclusions, not the applicant’s. I understand that the Town’s consultants met with the applicant’s consultants, where some “give and take” occurred regarding the issues to be contained in the SEIS. I would strongly recommend that regardless of this negotiation, the Town Board requires that the SEIS includes an analysis of any issue that the Board sees fit, and that the scope includes all of the issues discussed in this letter.

Should you wish to contact me regarding anything contained in this letter, please do not hesitate to call me at (845) 986-5350.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted,

Stephen M. Gross
Principal
Hudson Highlands Environmental Consulting

cc: Tuxedo Planning Board
N. Hays, Target Tuxedo

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Tuxedo Reserve Developers Must Do More Studies

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Banning sewer connections to prevent a housing development

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Tuxedo Reserve facing changes, delays

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Town Planning Board Issues Positive Report for Tuxedo Reserve

On April 14, 2009 the Town Planning Board voted unanimously in favor of issuing a positive report to the Town Board on Tuxedo Reserves’ Special Permit Amendment. As part of this report, they are recommending that the Town require the applicant to complete a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement as well as a Cut and Fill Analysis. The Town Board officially accepted the report at their April 27, 2009 meeting.
Bellow please find a copy of the Planning Board’s report along with a supplemental report submitted by Town consultants H2M.

Town Planning Board Report report to the Town Board on Tuxedo Reserves’ Special Permit Amendment

H2M Supplemental Report

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Rockland might treat Tuxedo Reserve sewage

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Tuxedo Reserve Submits Revised Amendment to Special Permit

The Related Companies have presented the Town Board with a new proposed amendment to the Special Permit for the Tuxedo Reserve Development. Based on feedback from the town Planning Board this fall, the developer decided to make changes to their amendment and resubmit a revised document reflecting many of the Board’s concerns. What follows is the revised amendment.

"Tuxedo Reserve Revised Amendment #1 - Overview"
"Tuxedo Reserve Revised Amendment #2 Technical Memorandum"
"Tuxedo Reserve Revised Amendment #3 - The Smart Code"
"Tuxedo Reserve Revised Amendment #4 - Design Guidelines"
"Tuxedo Reserve Revised Amendment #5 - Performance Standards"

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Is The Smart Code A Smart Move For The Town Of Tuxedo?

As part of their revised Special Permit, Tuxedo Reserve has presented the Town with a body of standards to regulate this Project, which will be known as the “Smart Code”. These standards, including zoning, architectural and landscaping components would be unique to each neighborhood within the project and would override the existing Town Code. In other words, the developer is seeking to set their own standards and rules by which their project will be constructed (thus avoiding the need for variances.) This is just one of the many major changes proposed by the Applicant that is currently under review by the Town Planning Board.
While approval of the Smart code would be a major success for the developer because it would make the project more attractive for prospective buyers, it would not necessarily be in the best interest for the town. The inconsistencies in zoning regulations are bound to create a plethora of zoning issues for residents (i.e. some home owners will be allowed to do things to their properties that others cannot) and in turn this will create issues for the town.
Why should the Town of Tuxedo allow the developer to set the standards by which their project will be built?????
Hall Alminana Inc., a company specializing in participatory town planning, coding and design, was part of the Tuxedo Reserve design team and now claims on their website that the Town of Tuxedo supports the Smart Code for “its capacity to create traditional neighborhood patterns that enable mixed use, walkability, diversity of housing and preservation of open space.” However, this is NOT true as the Smart Code (along with many additional proposed changes to the project) is still in the review process.

Click here to view Hall Alminana’s review of the Tuxedo Reserve Smart Code. A complete PDF download of the entire project is also available on this page.

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Funding for Tuxedo Reserve in Question

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Our Recommendations for Sloatsburg

From LoHud.com:

Our recommendations for Sloatsburg
• OCTOBER 23, 2008

In Sloatsburg, small has been good. But with large-scale residential developments looming all around and the western Ramapo sewer project approaching, political leaders will have to hold tight to keep the burg rural.
Sloatsburg Mayor Carl Wright, a Democrat who also won the Republican line during a primary, is challenged by political newcomer Marino Fontana on the Open Government Party of Sloatsburg line. Laurie Smyla, an environmental activist and former village recycling coordinator, is vying in a three-way race for the trustee seats being defended by incumbent Republican Barbara Berntsen and Democrat J. Mark Reimer. Berntsen is also on the Democratic line and Reimer on the Republican; Smyla holds the Open Government Party of Sloatsburg line. All terms are four years. Trustees are paid $4,500 a year; the mayor earns $12,000.
For mayor, we endorse the return of Wright, whose breadth of experience gives him a clear understanding of issues faced by the village, especially in the current economic climate. For the two trustee posts we recommend Reimer and Smyla. Voting takes place Nov. 4. Echoing all candidates' hopes to keep the burg as rural as possible as development crops up around them, Wright told the Editorial Board, "Our community is one of family, friends and neighbors."
There's little room for development within the village. A 12-acre space downtown is now being considered for a grocery store, some small businesses and housing above. Fontana, 51, said he wasn't "100 percent in support of a large development there," citing traffic on Route 17. A grocery store within the village is needed, others said.
The village's Master Plan of Development must be followed and kept fresh, especially as a sewer system makes development easier and more attractive, the candidates agreed. The village sits atop an aquifer that supplies 20 percent of Rockland's water, so the concern over failing septic systems is great. Reimer exhibited intricate understanding of these circumstances - he pointed out that a lot can be learned from Hillburn's experience with installing sewers, a difficult and invasive process. One lesson learned: Reimer noted that the village board has ensured Rockland Sewer District No. 1 will repave whole roads, "shoulder to shoulder," instead of patches, after laying sewer pipe, a boon to the village.
But it is the development outside the village that is of greatest concern.
Just over the border in Orange County, the 1,100-unit Tuxedo Reserve condominium project threatens to clog Route 17. Sloatsburg had no voice in permitting the development, but Reimer pointed out that the village board nonetheless won payments over 10 years from builders of Tuxedo Reserve to go toward emergency services, the library and commuter parking. Just south of Sloatsburg, in unincorporated Ramapo, the 263-unit Ramapo Hills condo project is proposed. Reimer said the village will push for town funds to add a fire truck.
Smyla noted that no one from western Ramapo sits on the town's Planning Board, yet developments like Ramapo Hills impact villagers. "We need a dialogue with the municipalities around us." We believe Smyla's environmental background and wider view of the village will serve residents well. The 59-year-old Berntsen's focus on the commercial downtown seems too limited during this transitional period.
The village must also face the economic fallout that will hit every layer of government. Wright noted that expenses are already up, including the purchase of salt and sand for winter. "Energy costs have skyrocketed." He wants to examine all utility and transportation uses, even minimizing the Department of Public Works' trips to Village Hall. "A little nickel here, a little nickel there."
A Journal News editorial

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Tuxedo Reserve....What's the Rush?

As most people know by now, The Related Companies, developers of the 1200 unit Tuxedo Reserve project, have submitted an amendment to their Special Permit, which contains MAJOR changes to the plan. If approved, these changes will alter both the scope of the project as well as life as we have all come to know it in the Town of Tuxedo. What people may not be aware of, however, is the extent to which the applicant is attempting to rush the new plan through the review process. While it took the Town nearly 10 years to review and approve the original plan, the applicant now expects the Planning Board to issue an approval for the new plan in less than 45 days.

At the September 22 Town Board meeting representatives for the developer presented the Board with an entirely new Master Plan for the project. There are countless reasons for residents to be concerned about many of the proposed changes, some of which are briefly outlined below:

  1. In the new plan, many of the homes have been converted from single-family houses to multifamily residences. This change will lower the overall worth of the homes and thus reduce the tax base for the project.

  2. The developer seeks to increase the amount of retail space in the area known as “The Commons” by 10 times the previously approved amount. . In fact, when looking at the new plan, one can easily see that the proposal is for an entirely new “downtown” area. While the developer states that the increase in retail space is necessary to support the increase in population, this is not necessarily true. What will happen to the present Downtown Tuxedo when a new downtown area is introduced? The developer suggests that the two retail areas will be synergistic rather than competitive, but they are not at all specific about the types of businesses they hope to introduce. When approving the initial plan, the previous Town Board made the revitalization of Downtown Tuxedo a cornerstone of their approval, denying the applicant’s original request for a large amount of retail space. Now that the Board has completely turned over, the applicant appears to be attempting to reverse this decision by reintroducing the increased amount of retail space in their amended plan.

  3. The original plan had all of the “designated active adult units” situated in one area of the development. In the revised plan however, these apartments and condos have been spread throughout the development and many of them have been relocated to the commons area and placed above retail space, thus creating a much more urban environment in this area.

  4. The new plan shows development around Mountain Lake, which is an area that was supposed to remain green and undeveloped according to the original plan. The Applicant is now referring to this area of land as “highly developable” and are proposing to build several three-story homes in this area. Despite the fact that the proposed homes will be in close proximity to the lake, the Applicant has stated that they are not planning any additional environmental impact studies before proceeding.

  5. The Applicant has presented the Town with a body of standards to regulate this Project, which will be known as the “Smart Code”. These standards, including zoning, architectural and landscaping components would be unique to each neighborhood within the project and would over-ride the existing Town Code. In other words, the Applicant is seeking to set their own standards and rules by which their project will be constructed (thus avoiding the need for variances.)

There are several other important issues with the proposed revision including (but not limited to) run-off from pesticides into the aquifer, (the developer claims that by eliminating lawns in the Commons area they are eliminating the need for pesticides) and the repositioning of an emergency access road on South Gate Road. (In their new Master Plan, the Town has indicated that they would like to pave this road over, making it a permanent entrance to the development and a “link” between Maple Brook and Downtown Tuxedo.)

With all these major changes being proposed, it is crucial that the various Boards take the time to not only review the details of the “new” project but also to consider the long term impacts these changes will have on the community. The Applicant, however, sees things differently. While, the amendment was officially referred to the Town Planning Board by the Town Board on September 8, 2008 that Board has not yet begun their review. On September 30, 2008 at the TAC meeting, representatives for the developer stated that they expected to see an affirmative report from the Planning Board no later than 45 days after the amendment had been referred. While they are agreeable to arranging public workshops with this Board for the purpose of detailed review, they suggested that the public presentation on September 22 should be considered a workshop and that additional workshops should be scheduled at a rate of 2 per week moving forward.

This sense of urgency from the Applicant begs the question….WHAT IS THE RUSH???? The Town has already embraced Tuxedo Reserve. Doesn’t it make sense that they should carefully review every aspect of the new plan in order to ensure that it becomes the best possible development it can be???? Especially considering the proposed Smart Code, which will override the Town Code in many areas, shouldn’t the Boards be taking their time to carefully review these new standards????? Is 45 days enough time to adequately review something that took the previous Boards 10 years to review and approve?

Resident involvement is crucial to this process. Please take a moment to review both the presentation made by the developer to Town Board on September 22, along with their Master Plan Book (page 14 outlines some of the difference between the old and new plans) and then consider these important questions.

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Deepening economic crisis delays Tuxedo housing

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Related Company Propose MAJOR Changes to Tuxedo Reserve Development

On Monday, September 22, 2008 the Related Company will present the Town Board with their proposed amendment to the Special Permit and preliminary for the Tuxedo Reserve Development. The extensive amendment contains a new Preliminary Plan, a greatly revised Special Permit and a new document called the "Smart Code", which strives to amend various planning and design standards, bulk standards, architectural design guidelines, landscape guidelines and performance standards for the various development areas in the Project as previously agreed upon in the original Special Permit. In Short, almost everything about the project has changed.

The Applicant’s proposed Smart Code presents cause for great concern. This Smart Code would lay out a predetermined set of standards, (based on those used for Northridge - phase 1 of the development) and therefore eliminate the need the Boards to spend time considering these standards for each phase of the project. This attempt on the Applicants part to create a blanket set of standards for every phase of the development is potentially very dangerous. The proposed development is extremely large and covers all different types of terrain. Each phase will face its own set of challenges based on the area in which it will be constructed. It is next to impossible to set standards that can be successfully applied to all the different areas of this project.

The amended plan also seeks to increase the amount of retail space within the development from 3000 square feet to 30,000 square feet. This proposed change is in direct opposition to efforts to improve the Tuxedo Downtown area. The previous Town Board worked hard to make Downtown improvements a cornerstone of the Tuxedo Reserve development and now it looks as though the Applicant is seeking to reverse this with a new Town Board.

Of particular interest to residents of the Village is a section of the amended plan in which Tuxedo Reserve states that they are negotiating a potential land swap with PIPC for land located directly adjacent to South Gate Road. Should they receive that land, the applicant intends to move several of the “allowed developments” to that parcel in an effort to improve the overall layout of their plan. This is unfortunate because in their new Comprehensive Plan the Town of Tuxedo has indicated their desire to create a permanent road in this location, thus allowing residents from Maple Brook and Eagle Valley more direct access to Town Center. Such a road, combined with the Applicant’s request to increase housing in this location, would dramatically increase the amount traffic on South Gate Rd and therefore have a direct effect on the South Gate entrance to the Village. This increased traffic from the development would also have a serious impact on the communities in Eagle Valley. There is already a planned exit located off of Routte 72, which will provide a more direct route for residents in these communities to Town Center. An additional exit on South Gate Road will direct unnecessary traffic through residential areas and bring with it a plethora of issues such as pedestrian safety, speeding and wear and tear on the Roads. In addition both the Village of Tuxedo Park and the Tuxedo Club have legal agreements with Applicant which state that no permanent road will exist in this area. Should the exchange of land of take place and the Town subsequently allow the permanent road to be constructed, the applicant would be in direct violation of these agreements.

Attendance at this initial meeting is vital for residents of the Village and the Town alike because the Applicant’s presentation will provide a basic education in terms of how they now hopes to develop this land. TPFYI STRONGLY URGES ALL RESIDENTS TO ATTEND this meeting and inform themselves. No matter what happens, Tuxedo Reserve is going to drastically alter life in both the Town of Tuxedo and the Village of Tuxedo Park.

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Dedicating Liberty Rock

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Town of Ramapo to Purchase and Preserve former Liberty Ridge Site

TPFYI has learned that the Town of Ramapo is currently in negotiations to purchase 55 acres of land located in the Village of Sloatsburg and previously designated for the Liberty Ridge housing development. Although negotiations are still underway, if they are finalized it is Ramapo’s plan that this land be made forever green and left as a passive park. (A passive park is one where the land will be left as is with no improvements)

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Link to the Sterling Place Website

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Tuxedo Reserve attorney says money proves sincerity

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Development On The Move in The Village of Sloatsburg

Considering the upcoming development in the Town of Tuxedo (Tuxedo Reserve, Sterling Place and several others on the drawing board), it’s not surprising that focus has been centered on potential changes to the community and the need to safeguard our current way of life, while making room for hundreds of new neighbors and the myriad of issues that massive developments can create.

Of course, Tuxedo is not the only community in which development is on the rise and it is important that residents educate themselves about upcoming developments in the Towns and Villages around us.

While there are several potential projects currently before the Village of Sloatsburg, Liberty Ridge is perhaps closest to moving forward. The location for the proposed project is just north of downtown Sloatsburg on Route 17. The Applicant is proposing to build 90 single-family, detached homes, all with access to Route 17 through a new road to be built directly opposite the intersection of Seven Lakes Drive (with modifications to the existing traffic signal). In addition, there also will be two access roads to Post Road, which is located on the South-bound side of Rt. 17, diagonally across from Mohawk Stone.

Click here to download some photographs of the proposed site along with a site plan.

If you are interested in learning more about the Liberty Ridge development, we encourage you to visit the Village of Sloatsburg website, and click on the “Liberty Ridge Information” tab. Here one can find detailed information on the project, including a Traffic Impact and Access Analysis Report and a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement as well as minutes from the most recent public hearing.

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Sterling Place Settlement Revisited: The Benefits

Development in and around Tuxedo Park has always been contentious. We fight to preserve our tranquil surroundings. Unfortunately, legal approvals from the Town of Tuxedo are obtained eventually and we need to make the best of an unpleasant reality. It seems surprising that some people are extremely focused on the development of 63 homes on our northern border while at the same time a 1200 home development right on our eastern and southern border gets little notice from the same group. The demographics are the same and the impact on our schools and taxes will be dramatic; the only difference is that it 20 times larger.

The Sterling Place Settlement ends an expensive lawsuit and appeal in the New York Supreme Court and a lawsuit in the U. S. District Court. The Village will provide water service to Sterling Place at rates up to 16% in excess of the rates charged to Village residents. Sterling Forest will construct the water system, bear the entire cost and then dedicate it to the Village. In addition and perhaps most important is that lots 29,30 and 31 which border Tuxedo Park will be left “forever wild” and deeded to the Village. Sterling Forest will make an additional contribution of $25,000 for landscaping, fencing and screening to protect viewshed and protect unauthorized access to the Village and a contribution of $350,000 for improving the WeeWah Dam. The Mayor and Trustees, and especially Larry Darby, should be congratulated for their efforts.

Even if the unlikely outcome had occurred and the Village won an appeal in New York Supreme Court and won in U.S. District Court, Sterling Forest could go up Warwick Brook Road for their water at a cost that would not stop their development. You can only imagine how agreeable they would be about protecting our viewshed and protecting the Village border if that had occurred. We are better protected and compensated with the settlement.

See Legally Blunt/April 24, 2008

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Village Planning Board Weighs Gateway Development

The Village Planning Board met on April 21, 2008.

The Meeting opened at 7:30 PM with all 5 Board members, Attorney Golden and Engineer Messer in attendance.

The evening’s objective was to vote on whether the Tuxedo Park Estate’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is “complete” and ready for formal analysis. This 100 page document references another 50 pages of data, plus numerous maps, site plans, and engineering calculations.

The underlying project is a 5-lot subdivision of 23 acres on Tuxedo Road. This property has been considered quite steep and very visible, so an Environmental Impact Statement had been required.

Houston Stebbins, Mayor; Bonnie Franson, VTP Planner; and two associate attorneys of Rick Golden’s office were present together with Building Inspector John Ledwith. For TPE were John O’rourke, Engr.; Counselors Richard Burns, Joel Sacks and Tom Seifert, plus Ms. Evren Ulker-Kacar.

Engineer Messer stated the applicant’s storm water calculations dated to 1996 and were so unclear as to be not useful in his determination. He was also concerned with truck traffic, storm water volumes and erosion during the construction phase as these issues were not covered adequately.

Bonnie Franson advised of undocumented hazards in blasting close to an existing road and water main. She noted that the Cultural Resources Study dated back to 1994 and made no reference to the Quartz Quarry found nearby. Lot 4’s photo-simulation was deficient and she shared concerns about the driveway analysis as well.

Mr. Golden and the P.B. did not accept “cluster housing” as a viable alternate as this proposal violates the Zoning Code of Tuxedo Park.

Board members voiced opinions suggesting that several important topics were not addressed adequately in the DEIS. These included surface drainage, revegetation in thin soil, diseased hemlock trees, lack of coordination if sites are not developed in tandem, erroneous assumptions as to house site areas and driveway requirements plus inadequate responses regarding: endangered species, 2000+ truck trips, shrub re-growth, bonding of on/off site improvements, appropriateness of connecting to the Town treatment plant and lack of support for the stated 3.9 acre claimed disturbance limit.

A motion was made to declare the TFE DEIS “incomplete” for further review and Mr. Golden recorded these major deficiencies:

  1. storm water report
  2. animal species report
  3. cultural resources report
  4. lack of alternative plans
  5. construction traffic effects
  6. Flawed house/site assumptions leading to inaccurate calculations of disturbance, drainage, truck traffic and erosion
  7. viewshed effects from utility cuts and siting
  8. Lot 4 simulation deficiencies

After discussion with TPE and with a vote of 5 to 0, the E.I.S. was pronounced “not complete” under SEQRA review requirements.

The meeting adjourned at 8:45 PM.

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Town will decide fate of Tuxedo Reserve in March

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Tuxedo Reserve close to groundbreaking

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Things Heat Up with Tuxedo Reserve

On Wednesday, October 3rd, the Planning Board held a workshop meeting with their consultants.  Since July, there has been an ongoing public hearing on Phase One, Section One of the huge Tuxedo Reserve project (also known as Northridge) and the implication is that the Planning Board will vote on Preliminary Approval for this phase and section at the conclusion of the extended hearing.  The workshop was held so that the Town’s consultants could explain to the Board members the waiver requests made by the applicants.  There are 102 waiver requests of which 36 will be decided by the Planning Board. (2 waivers will go to the Zoning Board of Appeals, 25 will be resolved by the Town Highway Superintendent and 39 will be decided by the Town Board). There are still a great number of questions unanswered about the waiver requests.  Even the Town’s consultants have been unable to get as much information as they would like from the applicant.

The public hearing will be continuing next Tuesday night at 7 pm.  There appears to be “pressure” for the Planning Board to close the public hearing and vote on preliminary approval.  If this is true, WHO is pushing for this vote and WHY?  We sincerely hope that the Board will not vote on Preliminary Approval before all the questions have been answered to the satisfaction of the Town’s consultants and everyone, including concerned residents, have had a chance to be heard on this very important matter.

Please see Town Planning Board Special Workshop on Tuxedo Reserve.

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Town Planning Board Tuxedo Reserve Workshop - Wednesday, October 3rd, 7pm

On Wednesday, October 3 2007 at 7pm the Town of Tuxedo Planning Board will conduct a workshop with all of their consultants with regard to phase one of Tuxedo Reserve (Northridge).  All residents are encouraged to attend.

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Tuxedo Reserve Phase One - Northridge

On Tuesday, July 10, Tuxedo Reserve LLC presented the following map, which shows the first phase of the Tuxedo Reserve development, known as Northridge, to the Town Planning Board.

The entrance to Northridge, via Quail Road, will be marked with a relatively large welcome center, located on Route 17 just south of town where Applewood Kennels used to be. The developers are proposing 103 units in this first phase.

For more information on the Tuxedo Reserve development, visit http://tuxedoreserve.com

Tuxedo Reserve Plan

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The following material was presented by Marianne Carroll to the Town Planning Board on August 14, 2007. Marianne is a Sloatsburg resident who, like most of us, is concerned about the sudden thrust of development in our immediate area.

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A Neighbor's Perspective
August 14, 2007 7:00 pm

Good evening Chairman Gerling, Planning Board Trustees and those here representing the Related Companies.

My name is Marianne Carroll and I am a resident of Sloatsburg.

I know you’ve seen me here regularly since last November taking furious notes in an effort to wrap my head around the enormity of this Tuxedo Reserve project and what it will mean, not only to my way of life, but to those 3,000 plus individuals and neighbors that surround me in my precious village home in Sloatsburg. I moved here 3 years ago from 28 years of living in Manhattan, where at least 3,000 people lived on my block between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West on New York’s Upper West Side. It’s what I feel is about the size of a manageable tribe -- much like those who once enjoyed these same woods and streams and the beauty of the land surrounding the Ramapo River not long ago.

I've been trying to wrap my ears around the sounds of potentially 10 years of continuous construction and blasting through 400-million-year-old crystalline bedrock in this valley of the Ramapo Pass that today echoes the cry of the eagle, the raucous caw of the crow, the gentle cooing of the mourning dove and caresses the sweet gentle breeze that often flows so joyously through this valley – this very same valley that once reverberated with the echo of our forebears’ ammunition as they stood up to the British troops to prevent them from moving North to take Albany.

I’ve also been trying to wrap my heart around the human suffering and destruction caused by recent flash flood extreme weather events that can suddenly dump 3 inches of rainfall into the New York City subway system in under an hour. I’m trying to wrap my consciousness around so much in this rapidly changing world outside this precious Ramapo Highlands ecosystem that hasn’t changed much in the last several million years since the ice age ended and the glaciers formed the Ramapos. It hasn’t changed much, except for the train tracks, roads and highways that stream hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people through the heart of this valley on a daily basis.

I’m trying to wrap my head around the likelihood of this carefully-planned long-term assault on these mountains and ridge land, forests and wetlands, streams and rivers that were not designed to be moved and altered in an unprecedented and potentially risky experiment with nature that threatens the shared water resources that are vital to sustain our lives here as an interconnected, thriving, healthy and safe community.

With that said, I have reviewed the submission for this application and the records held at the Tuxedo Public Library and I have some questions and concerns I respectfully ask you to consider.

1.) As I currently understand it, during Phase 1 Section 1 Subdivision construction, one of the early items listed in Stage One is the widening of Route 17 at the North Entrance. Will Park Avenue and the access road shown here at 199 Orange Turnpike also be used by heavy trucks to transport construction materials to the Section 1 Subdivision site or will these roads be for private auto use only? In your application, it states that upgrades to the Southern Entrance would not be scheduled until Stages 5 and 6. Are we to assume that these roads and the areas surrounding them will remain in much the same environmental condition as they are currently?

2.) When improvements to the South Entrance are scheduled, will these also include the restoration of the wetland, bogs and wildlife (specifically, the woodcock and turtles) that were present several years ago? Several wetlands and bogs on this section of land have disappeared as a consequence of the more recent road upgrades and the mismanagement of the testing wells installation.

3.) Given the current runoff observed on Route 17 during rainfall and sometimes even when there has been no rainfall for several weeks – as was the case as shown here in photographs taken March 30 of this year -- where does your application specifically address mitigating these runoff and potential flooding conditions regarding this access road? Are you planning on addressing better drainage solutions? And if there are plans for treatment of the runoff that occurs at the current drainage site flowing from Park Avenue, what does that treatment plan specify and entail?

4.) Your stormwater management plan uses a table based on a 100-year major rain event of 8 inches of rainfall in a 24 hour period. Whereas I know these amounts are based on Technical Papers sited that are perhaps, by now, out of date, where might there be contingencies in your plan for unexpected flash flooding like the recent extreme weather events experienced in this area during 2007 on April 15th, July 18th and August 8th? And if the Phase 1 Section 1 Subdivision site will be under construction and cleared land laid bare for a period of time PRIOR to the installation of the mitigating storm water control system you are proposing, what plans do you have to prevent a massive movement and displacement of construction materials, equipment and loose soil during a flash flood like those recent extreme weather events? As I understand it, these extreme weather patterns will be more frequent in the years to come, given global climate change predictions. Should you not update your current storm water discharge requirements as well to protect those residents currently living in areas that will be directly affected by any and all future development applications?

5.) On the applicants Short Environmental Assessment Form submitted on May 31, 2007, as lead agency isn’t the Tuxedo Planning Board required to fill out Part II of the Impact Assessment? Will you be addressing the questions posed by this application and where and when can we view your responses to questions such as: “Will the project have an impact on the environmental characteristics that caused the establishment of a critical environmental area? And “Is there, or is there likely to be, controversy related to potential adverse environmental impacts?”

6.) As I currently understand your plans, the Southern Entrance will be constructed to handle traffic for the exit and entrance of probably 600 plus families and those vehicles for services such as FedEx, CableVision, Verizon, landscaping, food deliveries and repairs -- vehicles we all see in our community on a daily basis. Might you explain in greater detail how the Southern entrance will be constructed to handle the volume of traffic turning into and off the road at this narrow portion of Route 17 that has had a growing number of traffic accidents reported during the last 5 years?

If I could look into a crystal ball far into the future and see your grandchildren’s grandchildren I would want to ask them if there were anything we should know today that made a difference in their lives. I am hoping it would be that you, who are about to make the decisions regarding this land use application and its effect on the Ramapo Watershed we all share, made wise decisions that provided prosperous and abundant life for all species and humanity.

I would like to conclude with a quote from National Geographic, written by Michael
Parfit:

line "Watersheds come in families; nested levels of intimacy. On the grandest scale the hydrologic web is like all humanity – Serbs, Russians, Koyukon Indians, Amish, the billion lives in the People's Republic of China – it's broadly troubled, but it's hard to know how to help. As you work your way upstream toward home, you're more closely related. The big river is like your nation, a little out of hand. The lake is your cousin. The creek is your sister. The pond is her child. And, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, you're married to your kitchen sink."

Thank you.

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