Paul Camarda, one of Putnam County's largest developers, is seeking almost $200 million in bonds from the Putnam County Industrial Development Agency to help construct three retail/office projects totaling about 1.7 million square feet.
The agency will hold four public hearings on Wednesday before signing off on financing and tax incentives for the construction of the Stateline Retail Center in Southeast, Patterson Crossing on the Patterson-Kent border and Union Place in Mahopac.
"The public has a right to express its opinion about the projects," said Burt Houseworth, CEO of the Putnam IDA.
The Putnam IDA is one of about 115 industrial development agencies throughout the state. Their role, according to the state Comptroller's Office, is to "attract, retain and expand businesses within their jurisdictions" by offering financial incentives.
Some, though, in Putnam, where Camarda's projects often draw criticism, have expressed dismay over his requests. Camarda said the IDA's ability to offer various tax breaks and low-interest bonds is a business "tool."
"These are tools available
to anybody. If we don't try to avail ourselves to what our
competition in New Jersey or
Ann Fanizzi, chairwoman of the Putnam County Coalition to Preserve Open Space, likened his requests to welfare. She worried the IDA was "dispensing (millions) . . . ultimately to be paid by taxpayers."
Kevin Bailey, chairman of the IDA's board, said many aren't familiar with the agency's operation. He said the hearings have generated more inquiries than any other undertaking by the IDA, which was formed in 1995.
"There's no public money at all involved," Bailey said.
Bond revenue is raised from investors and the IDA is funded by various charges assessed on the applicants. Other incentives, such as a scaled reduction in property taxes and a sales-tax exemption on construction materials, are offset by the jobs created and sales tax collected once the businesses open, Bailey said. Public hearings are held only after the IDA has intensely reviewed the projects and their qualifications for assistance, he added.
Camarda, according to his IDA application, plans to break ground on Stateline this summer. The project off Route 6 near the Connecticut border, expected to include six stores, has received all its approvals from the town and other agencies. The other two have not; environmental approvals occur independent of any IDA decision.
If all locally purchased construction materials for Stateline were bought in Putnam, that would generate $108,420 in county sales tax and $123,908 in state sales tax, according to its environmental study.
Bailey said the projects' property taxes would be reduced by 50 percent in their first year, 45 percent in their second and so on. After a decade, the full tax bill would be due each year. Projected total taxes of a fully built Stateline were estimated to be about $566,000 annually.
John Riley of Southeast said he was afraid investors would sue the county should Camarda's corporations default on the bonds.
"If they go belly up, what is legally required? Once they (investors) are upset, they are going to look for where they can get their money," he said.
Bailey, the IDA chair, said there is "no obligation, no risk, to the IDA, to Putnam County or to the towns." Losses are recouped through the assets of the borrower.
Camarda said he could proceed with Stateline regardless of whether the IDA approves his application.
"Where does it leave me? The same place I was before. I have a fully approved project," he said.
Located on the Westchester/Putnam Border, the dimensions of Union Place are staggering, covering 303 acres, the largest piece of land in Mahopac, involves 235,000 sq ft of small "format" retail space (another strip mall of nails and pizzeras); 255,000 sq. ft of large retail space; 350,000 sq. ft of corporate office space; 180 units of professional offices; a 90-room hotel and 300 condominiums.
What has been Camarda's track record? He has proposed much; had much approved and nothing built. Stateline in Southeast, a 46-acre, 186,000 sq. ft retail development - proposed, approved shovel ready for more than two years but not a spade in the ground; Gateway/Fairways - 123-room hotel and 300-units of senior housing - proposed, approved, shovel ready for almost three years - not a spade in the ground; Patterson Crossing 90 acre-400,000 sq. ft retail - just approved by the Town of Kent with Camarda trying to raid the sales tax fund to widen a road and of course, the 321- unit senior housing development off Stoneleigh, sold to Pulte for $30 million - 100-acres blasted and devastated, a discredit to the landscape and gateway to Carmel with the Pulte asking for re-approvals from the Carmel Planning Board. Is this a track record with which we can have confidence?
This same,old same old project is being proposed as if nothing has happened - that the economic crisis was just a blip on the screen and we will return to the happy go lucky days of spend, spend, spend and living beyond our means. It offers nothing new but imposes severe strains on the infrastructure, police, fire, emergency, and water resources of the town and surrounding small businesses that are just trying to keep their head above water. It will add a density and intensity of development that will strain all resources and transform a "neighborhood" shopping area into an area characteristic of urban development.
This project is being proposed against a backdrop of the following factors:
1. The location is a prime target for traffic deadlock, bottleneck area. Already is and is slated to make a bad situation even worse.
2. The location already has Somers Commons - a huge retail center on the other side of Rte 6
3. The location is just north of proposed Somers construction of "The Hamlet" another "village" of retail and residences.
4. The location is just north of the court mandated 75 unit affordable housing imposed on Somers and other northern Westchester towns in a decision that required these towns to build affordable housing.
The project is being proposed in the face of huge strip mall vacancy rates all along the Rte 6 corridor and in K-Mart and A&P Mahopac and ShopRite centers. Camarda proposes more of the same. It will have tremendous impact on the rest of the corridor and pressure on owners to fill these spaces.
5. Carmel already has vacant "corporate" space on Rte 6 and beyond that it has been unable to fill - Watson Pharmaceutical, Quality Rent - All; the beautiful Barile building, and possibly in the future Guideposts in Carmel.
Is there an alternative? I offer what indeed Carmel/Mahopac does not have; a proposal that will take advantage of the Somers development on Rte 6 and 118 and will offer needed sales tax revenues without the impact on town and county resources. It will maintain the historical nature of the Mahopac Farm property, the last vestige of what was once Mahopac as an interpretative farm and theater center. I propose an educational, performing arts and cultural center with a theater and upscale restaurants similar to that which has revitalized Pleasantville - Jacob Burns; Beacon - the DEA, and now even Newburgh with its waterfront redevelopment and construction of a community college. Do you know that we pay $7 million a year so Carmel residents can attend out of county community colleges? And they are definitely on the rise. In 2009, Legislator Tamagna proposed one for Putnam. We need to provide educational opportunities to our students here in Putnam. Educate in Putnam; Entertain in Putnam; Enjoy Putnam should be our 21st century motto.
This proposal is a proven winner - wherever arts and performing centers have been proposed and constructed it has been a tax winner for the people and for the community at large. Mahopac deserves better. Say No to the Wrecker from Ridgefield.
Ann Fanizzi, Chair
Putnam County Coalition to Preserve Open Space
Good morning all -
Last night a special meeting of all Board members was convened by Carmel Supervisor Schmitt to discuss the "the way the town looks." and to jointly discuss "processes, procedures and communication" to remedy outstanding problems. You won't see it friends, seems the Town budget according to the Supervisor can't afford the $250 video fee. However, an audio tape exists; the Supervisor has it all to himself. And of course, my notes and reflections on this convocation before election time and a year before re-election.
Audience was sparse but notable for his absence was Paul Camarda, the one person responsible for the way the town looks and for subverting the processes, procedures and distorting communication. But all of his enablers were there - some members of the Town Board who subverted the integrity of the zoning code; those members of the Planning Board who looked away from the destructive nature of his senior housing project; some members of the Architectural Review Board who thought monopoly houses on a ridgeline would be cutting edge design and a model to follow. I could go on and on.
But Camarda was ably represented by his man about the towns and lately Senator Leibell's aide in arms and Yonkers boy who made good - Robert Buckley who commended the town and Supervisor for this historic convocation of the town's volunteers. ( not so historic since a similar meeting had been convened by Connie Munday and nothing came of it) As a matter of fact, Buckley even added his own recommendation toward the beautification of Rte 6 - planting 50 trees. Yes sir, trees were the answer. He didn't say it once but several times - never once acknowledging the irony and notwithstanding the fact that his "employer" Camarda was responsible for the wholesale deforestation off Stoneleigh of 100 acres making Baghdad appear as a greenhouse. And is shortly going to continue his stripping of mountain tops and further 100 acre deforestation with Buckley's candidate for sales tax revenue, the counterfeit splendid, horsey, rural like village, Patterson Crossing.
But Buckley was not through yet. In response to two members of the audience who urged the Board to adopt technology and the internet to communicate with residents - post minutes, development plans, etc. to inform those residents who because of family or work obligations could not attend the meetings -Mr. Buckley who apparently has some leeway in his work hours and duties, (Camarda is a considerate employer, pays overtime for attendance at night time meetings) attributed it to apathy. He was properly rebuked by Councilman Lombardi who reminded him of the toll inflicted on residents getting a paycheck to live in Camarda kingdom and that residents on numerous occasions and diverse places, approached him indicating that they indeed viewed meetings and were more than well aware of town matters.
Finally, Buckley made the invidious comparison with the comportment of the Carmel Board with that of Southeast - calm discussion vs. unruly and unseemly behavior - a get along mentality. And that is the problem - we all get along, sweep the dirt under the rug. Well this historic convocation inadvertently exposed some of it which Buckley's dense mind, didn't get.
At that point, I said "but this meeting is being televised, right? Well it was not. And why I pursued the Supervisor for an explanation. It was a special meeting - the fifth in the month and here is the kicker, the Town did not have the $250 fee for televising this "historic convocation." denying the public the benefits of looking, listening and thinking about what " their town looks like" and the "processes, procedures and communication channels" that needed to be established to change the once crown jewel of Putnam from the shabby, seedy- looking town it has become with its commercial core filled with vacant stores, for sale signs nail and pizza parlors and its gateway the poster child of devastation. Like Buckley, the Supervisor failed to grasp the disconnect between his words and actions. And then sneared Buckley parroting the mantra of his mentor and those who engaged in a campaign to silence me and others, that I did not live in Carmel (neither does his employer Camarda - small point) " I wouldn't be seeing my face on TV." That smart a.....juvenile answer reminiscent of bad boys got a chortle from several members.
What did I conclude? that aside from a small group of intrepid folks who brave the slings and arrows and insults of people like Buckley, this meeting was a convocation of the inner circle with decisions ultimately made by the Town Board. Should I also include sham or farce. Not fair to those who sincerely want things to change. By the way, residents would have been most enlightened by the earnest comments of some of these citizen volunteers who by and large were trying to do the right thing in an impossible environment hamstrung by those obligated to special interests. In the end, as the Italian saying goes, the fish stinks at the head. As I said in my remarks, the town board sets the tone. For over four years, this town board has turned a blind eye to a whole host of issues, some of which they inherited, but did nothing about but became enablers more interested in baseball bases than in the basis of good government - as they refused to fill in the loopholes of the swiss cheese ordinances and codes that benefited and enriched small and large developers alike and tagged Carmel/Mahopac as a wide open town where anything goes. Is it too late to put the genie back in the bottle, I inquired?
Discussion proceeded with about 40 people representing Boards, some of which were right on i. e. the inability of the architectural review board to enforce its decisions with applicants circumventing them by appealing to the ZBA for variances on signs, colors, materials; and the startling comment by John Lupinacci who expressed his dismay that he was making decisions in the dark with scraps of paper and not site plans - how was he going to decide whether a project was congruous with the rest of the neighborhood; the always illuminating comments of Mr. Ravallo on the pitfalls of open development; the mellow, seductive words of the Chairman Gary who was tasked by the Supervisor to come up with recommendations re:open developments- two months and in the meantime a moratorium and the expert suggestions by the Chairman of the ECB, Franzetti, covering septics, enactment of green building ordinances; stormwater, wetlands, a Board who DEP supervisor, Ravallo inexplicably wanted to castrate and relegate them to the wilds of wetland buffer regulation only and Ed Barnett who decried the mountain top removal to the gateway to Lake Gleneida and perceptively observed that with developable land becoming increasingly scarce and environmentally challenging that innovative septic technology should be the standard.
Lastly there were comments from the Carmel/Mahopac Chamber of Commerce and they were somewhat disappointing and I said so. Go slow, status quo, let's tread easy on the business community, beset by hard economic times, who rail against architectural standards which in other towns are the rule and not the exception. Bigger signs with raffish colors will bring in business - not so. Several members of the Boards i.e. Architectural I believe and Zoning pointed not to Scarsdale but to Brookhaven as a common sense model. However, I did agree with CEO Bardunias and Chairwoman Maher that without a vision guiding actions, a vision articulated by the Town Board, the Chamber and the Boards could not provide the necessary guidance and "encouragement" to their members that adoption of more stringent regulations and their adherence even if initially more expensive, will in the end benefit their bottom line.
As part of the technical assistance, I had provided town board members and Supervisor Schmitt with a thick binder filled with model town codes - blasting, steep slope and ridgeline protection, tree preservation etc. And several times in response to egregious development projects, Hilltop Properties for ex.to Chairman Gary, a 20 page copy of the Greenburgh blasting code. I was frustrated and angry by the footdragging and "re-inventing the wheel" spinning engaged in by Supervisor Schmitt. All you have to do is to copy and tweak model codes, I said angrily.
There was so much more that you the residents should have heard and thought about and communicated to town officials but the Supervisor couldn't come up with $250.00 smackers. Denying residents the ability to view this special meeting and access to relevant board deliberations speaks volumes about what he really thinks about the residents who voted for him and who he allegedly represents.
Ann, why are you now writing about a center that will be in Kent.
This is Carmel. Well, the name "Kent Senior Center" is a misnomer,
deliberately crafted to obscure its true identity - the Putnam
County Senior Center. Bear with me a bit.
the holidays have come upon us and peace and blessings to one and all. But problems do not stop for holiday cheer and good spirits. Natural Gas companies throughout the Appalachian area including New York State are gearing for a killing - killing the watershed, the health of residents, deforesting huge areas, contaminating soil and domestic animals and wildlife.
To raise public awareness and support, we are co-sponsoring a conference on hdrofracking scheduled for January 18th. We have invited Chris Burger who is an on the scene resident, former Broome county official and speaker.
Please post this event on your calendar (a New Year's Resolution) and come and support this effort. An educational kit will also be presented so that you can spread the word about the impact of this extraction process.
With much appreciation for your support,
CROTON WATERSHED CLEAN WATER COALITION IN ASSOCIATION
WITH COALITION TO PRESERVE OPEN SPACE/ CRCM PRESENTS
CHRIS W. BURGER, BROOME CTY, LEGISLATOR,
CHAIR - BROOME CTY. ENERGY ADVISORY BOARD.
THE MYTH AND REALITY OF "CLEAN NATURAL GAS".
DATE: TUES. JANUARY 18TH (SNOW DATE: JANUARY 25TH) -
PLACE: MAHOPAC LIBRARY - COMM. ROOM
TIME : 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM
LIGHT DINNER, COFFEE/TEA AND DESSERT.
CONTACT BY JAN. 12TH - 228-4265
"Positive progress" says Jerry re: blasting code enactment. Well,
I am not so generous. I know what it took to arrive at this
juncture and certainly Lori Kemp knows. And I am somewhat skeptical
as to how long this "progress" will last beyond the election cycle.
Wednesday night's meeting at the Planning Board again raised the
specter of a town bereft of the most elementary protections: steep
slopes, vistas, tree preservation and residents' health, quality of
life and property. (Tune in on Channel 95)
At last night's Planning Board meeting, there was a ritualized recitation of the steps that had been taken or would be taken in the future re: Union Place (Westchester Border, Rte 6 and Baldwin Place) SEQRA process. One jarring note was the characterization by the Town Planning Consultant Cleary of the applicant's efforts in preparation of the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) as "diligent." I'm sure.
But further, there was also on the docket - MBS Holdings- a 9,000 sq. ft 2-story retail/office proposal located on Rte 6 with a facade of sheer rock sloping ever upward and onward. (Anybody ask about the need for blasting and a code. Seems 29,000 cubic yards of dirt (fill) will have to be removed)
The ZBA contrary to the urging of the Planning Board denied the applicant their request for reduced parking spaces so if you don't have space on the ground, well there is always the roof. Yes, roof-top parking is coming to Mahopac. Will wonders never cease. The beautification of Rt 6 continues apace.
And more to the point. MBS needs sewer hookup. And who else needs sewer hookup? Villa Barone's entry into the hotel market. Please note Camarda, they are willing to pay for it. And possibly one more. You guessed it.
During the Munday administration, the lately involuntarily retired Town Engineer, Jack Karell, submitted a proposal for extending the sewer lines all the way to Baldwin Place. The plans are there. Has the DEP been contacted? I bet the Chairman of the Planning Board knows. I bet everybody is very diligent on that score. :)
As I understand the underlying
assumptions for approving DeCicco, John, it appears that
representatives have researched demand for high end, "exotic",
international food products (sushi etc) and concluded that there is
enough for this enterprise to prosper and bring in sales tax revenue
In an earlier post, I said that I
would report Mr. Colello's remarks at the Town of Southeast Board
meeting re: the application of DeCicco for a Hud Economic
Development Block Grant in the amount of $625,000, a grant based on
evidence that it met the criteria for generating jobs for low to
moderate income residents. I requested the census tract location
upon which the application was based and received the following
reply. The census tract unemployment rate of 7+% was attached to
the vacant parcel of Linens n' Things. It was compared to the Town
of Southeast at 5% and Putnam County at 4%
Those who have campaigned on the slogan "Shop Putnam" must indeed be puzzled when Carmel Councilman Frank Lombardi grouses that he can't find a suit or even County Executive, Bob Bondi, most enthusiastic cheerleader, that he can't find a good pair of shoes. And I that can't buy a book or copy material or obtain office supplies during the weekend without traveling either to Westchester or Connecticut.
Why is this so? Do we not have a regional retail, 360,000 square feet of Brewster Highlands and God forbid another prospective 400,000 not 1 1/2 miles distant, Patterson Crossing and 46,000 sq. ft of Stateline? Yet, we hear the complaint: there is no place to shop in Putnam County.
To perhaps shed some light I would like to use as the poster child, the new business for Brewster Highlands that is being advanced for replacement for the bankrupt Linens n' Things adjacent to Kohls - DeCiccio, a chain founded in the 1970's with a store in Yorktown in the old D'Agostino location on Rte 6. Everybody is on board - the IDA, the Empire Zone Committee and especially its Chairman, Richard Ruchela, the Legislature and even the Southeast Town Board.
Everything is being done and when I mean everything, I mean everything to entice this family supermarket chain into the Brewster Highlands space. No effort is being spared. The Town of Southeast opted not to apply for Empire Zone designation. Guess what. The site to be occupied by DeCiccio is now an Empire Zone site meeting the requirement that it is a "regionally significant manufacturing enterprise." A glitch: town zoning does not include "manufacturing." For purposes of the town, the word "manufacturing" was conveniently deleted so that the town could approve the designation and the legislature would have another signatory on board. And as of last Thursday's meeting, the Town approved DeCiccio for a Federal Block Grant.
Sales taxes and jobs - 73 no less; however, 1/2 paying less than $40,000, not exactly a salary that would pay for even a shed in Putnam County. And we have to look at the jobs: mozzarella slicers and wrappers, checkers, a pastry chef and it goes on.
How does DeCiccio fulfill the promise of the Shop Putnam campaign - to give Putnam customers diverse shopping mix to fulfill their needs and stop them from going to Danbury or Westchester. DeCiccio will not fulfill Mr. Lombardi's need for a suit nor Mr. Bondi's need for shoes nor mine for books or office supplies.
It is one more supermarket in addition to Ace Endico, Hannafords, A&P, ShopRite, Key Food and perhaps COSTCO and the countless mom & pops along the way. When I pointed out this redunancy of supermarket chains not 2 miles distant from each other to Burt Houseworth, IDA Chairman, his response was exactly the problem: it didn't matter. DeCiccio would bring in sales tax revenue and jobs, a response that in itself needs examination. Although no one can tell anyone exactly what portion of the sales tax revenue is indeed being generated by this glut, big ticket items i.e. auto sales (must pay Putnam taxes no matter the purchase location) and gasoline taxes, have been the prime generators of revenue increases.
With all due respect to Mr. Houseworth, it does matter. In exchange for Putnam relinguishing its treasure of land and magnificent forests and vistas and its residents foregoing the CONmarda tax relief (Build the road for Patterson Crossing please) at the very least, they should have a variety of shopping opportunities that truly meets their needs.
And so Mr. Lombardi and Mr. Bondi, the Shop Putnam campaign is indeed an empty suit and won't fill anyone's shoes.
Hon. Vincent Tamagna, Chairman
Putnam County Board of Legislators and
Hon Members of the Board of Legislators
40 Gleneida Avenue
Carmel, New York 10512
Dear Mr. Tamagna:
The proposal to alleviate Mr. Camarda of infrastructure expenses connected with Patterson Crossing is contrary to the Findings Statement (FEIS) ), Appndix K issued by the Town of Patterson Planning Board (attached) the approval of which was based on the premise that Mr. Camarda would take sole responsibility for all infrastructure improvements on Rte 311 and I84 Intersection. On this basis alone, the legislature should deny Mr. Camarda's request.
Instead of easing the tax burden, the legislature is considering diverting sales taxes for the sole enrichment of one developer. Sales tax revenues, as I not need to remind you, are to be used for the benefit of the welfare of all the people not the private welfare of non-resident who now comes to the people's representatives for a handout. Are we to acquiesce in a new slogan: Shop Putnam - Save Camarda?
The legislation as written patently misrepresents the current situation. "Residential and commercial development in the vicinity of the Route 311 and I-84 Intersection, Putnam County, has resulted in such intersection being inadequate to efficiently serve the needs of the residents of the county,"... decreasing the quality of life of residents...and ... attractiveness of the surrounding parcels." Only one factor is illustrative of the conditions portrayed in Section 1 and a "contributing factor to traffic congestion" and that is the proposed introduction of a mega-retail 400,000 square foot enterprise, Patterson Crossing into a bucolic area, characterized by heavily forested steep slopes, rock outcroppings, a haven for wildlife surrounded by small residential homes, whose peace and tranquility will be a thing of the past, shaken by years of unremitting blasting, jackhammers, earthmovers, construction trucks. He now seeks to transport this destruction to the slopes of Kent, "decreasing the quality of life of residents and attractiveness of the surrounding parcels."
Camarda's effort to mask the transformative, destructive nature of Patterson Crossing by peddling the putative tax benefits, should be spurned by the legislature. Instead the legislature should impose impact fees as remuneration for the destruction of the environment, the forests, wildlife habitat and the "pain and suffering," and threats to health that residents will have to endure from years of blasting, pollution from airborne particulates, noise, increased truck and vehicular traffic (see attached) and devaluation of their property and peace and tranquility. Last but not least are the costs associated with emergency, fire and police services, a necessity since the project is adjacent to residential area and easily accessible by shopper, visitor and villain alike. All these are offsets on the balance sheet to the so-called tax benefits of his project. Incalculable millions but off the books.
What I have detailed for you are the hidden costs of projects that should not be in anybody's backyard - not in Phillipstown and certainly not in Lake Carmel. We should not be subsidizing Mr. Camarda or any developer for the costs of doing business.
Ann Fanizzi, Chair
Putnam County Coalition to Preserve Open Space
Dear Superintendent Sandbank:
I am taking this opportunity to express my personal dismay that the school district may unwittingly be used by the Brewster Education Foundation as an outlet to promote the Kelly-Miller Circus. I am assuming such a tie since your website and activities and that of the Foundation appear to be closely allied.
As a retired education of thirty years, I am appalled that the Brewster Education Foundation should employ a circus known for its misuse of elephants in a fund-raising scheme. The dismal record of widespread circus abuse of elephants is well known and documented with Kelly-Miller being specifically cited by the USDA as is the April incident reported in the Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania papers of an elephant being "spooked" and killing its trainer. That the school district may be unwittingly implanting the seed in children's minds that the use of animals for entertainment and profit, is a laudable education goal, is indeed appalling as is the possible emotional and physical fall-out from an untoward incident as occurred in Pennsylvania.
I recall that the Brewster School System had a program promoting individual acts of kindness. Those acts of kindness should also extend to our fellow species who jointly inhabit our earth: both domestic and "wild." Therefore, I am urgently requesting that as educational leader of the Brewster district, that you divorce the Brewster School District from this community-divisive activity and the promotion of this ill-advised, unenlightened scheme brought forward by the Brewster Education Foundation. The school system should not be implicated in anyway or perceived to be implicated in schemes that promote the misery of animals for profit. The ends cannot justify the means.
Along with several other residents, we expressed our sentiments to the Town of Southeast Board and Neil Platt has distributed voluminous material plus a tape of the recorded abuse. We would of course share these materials with you at a meeting to be convened at your convenience. The time is short, since notices have gone out on the Brewster Education website, together with announcements on other websites, Brewster 10509 and Patterson 12563 along with cooperation of local storeowners i.e. Kobackers in selling tickets.
Please accept my personal appreciation for your consideration of my comments and look forward to meeting with you personally over this issue.
ZAP the Zoning Code
Good morning all - If you've read this post on carmelresident.org, I apologize for the repetition but maybe it needs a second look and read.
Here we go again. Now it's Carmel. Who must obey Zoning Codes? The poor schmo who wants to build an addition - a shed or a deck not Villa Barone. It seems that the owners want to build an addition - a 50-room , 3 story hotel with spa and underground garage on the rocky heights, bordering Voltz Park near Mary and Ellen Avenues designed by Joel Greenberg. Not a bad idea you say, until you read the code which states that a hotel requires 5 acres and 400 ft of frontage. Seems they don't have the acreage - a bit over 2 and certainly not the frontage. But they will have the affrontery to come up before the ZBA and demand the variance. Forgot to add, they just happen to be in the Empire Zone and you guessed it - it will be a blast.
Where once there were none, we will now have four hotels if all are built as proposed: two in Southeast and two in Carmel/Mahopac. Talk about spare rooms or rooms to spare. Here there are:
1. Proposed upscale hotel/conference center (200 rooms) located on the bluffs overlooking Exit 19 and Rte 312 - Southeast
2. Proposed 46-room downscale hotel - (machine snacks and drinks down the hall) at Exit 20 and Rte 6 - Southeast - developer currently suing the town.
3. Proposed 80 room efficiency with kitchen and 40 divided between handicapped, one bedroom and two bedrooms hotel/conference center total 123 near rundown industrial section of Carmel - Rte 6 with views of the monopoly houses on the hill.
4. Proposed hotel/spa for 50 guests near Villa Barone off Rte 6 in Mahopac. Project before Carmel Planning Board this evening.
Make your reservations far in advance. Heard of a food fight, well there is going to be a room fight in the offing.
CAN WE HAVE BOTH? That is the thorny, contentious question now facing many communities in the Hudson Valley confronted with efforts to formulate public policy that will serve the community in the 21st century.
On Thursday February 25th (inclement weather date, March 4th), at Mahopac Library (Rte 6), Community Room, at 7PM, the first of a series of conferences will be held with noted panelists representing the areas of Planning, Land Use, and environmental law. The conference seeks to establish a dialogue and even consensus among members of the community with diverse perspectives and has the goal of bridging what often appears to be an insurmountable divide between the business community and conservationists.
Our keynote speaker, Dr. Michael Klemens, noted land-use planner and conservationist, director of the Cary Institute and founder of the Metropolitan Conservation Alliance, has successfully bridged this divide. As former Chairman of the Rye Planning Commission, consultant to Northern Westchester Biodiversity Corridor study and member of numerous local, regional, and national steering committees and technical advisory boards, he brings the unique perspective of successfully finding pathways of agreement that meet the needs of both economic development and conservation.
Our other speakers on the panel are David Gordon and Dr. Patricia Houser,
David Gordon holds an LL..M in Environmental law from Pace University Law School. He was counsel to Riverkeeper from 1990-2004, representing public interest parties in negotiating the landmark 1997 $1.4 billion intermunicipal agreement to protect the New York City reservoir watershed; was a member of the Town of Lloyd Planning Board; vice-president of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association. Currently, he specializes in environmental, land use and administrative law, on behalf of municipal and private clients throughout the Hudson Valley.
Dr. Patricia Houser is a native of the Mahopac Community, with long association with Carmel's historical society. She is currently Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at Central Connecticut State University. Dr. Hauser obtained her PhD in Urban Planning, Columbia University; was former Putnam County Historian and former Assistant Professor of Geography at Western Connecticut State University; has been a speaker and writer of numerous articles that in the midst of change, we must conserve the historic legacy of Putnam County.
The one-hour presentation by the panelists will be followed by a question and answer period. And it is during this time, that we encourage you to ask the hard questions surrounding this issue: Can We Have Both Conservation and Economic Development? Only through honest exchange, can the seeds of consensus be planted, germinate and flourish into public policy that stresses consensus building.
We will, of course, serve Refreshments and Desserts. Your attendance and participation in this effort will single that it is possible to have quality communities encompassing the best of both economic development and conservation.
Partial list of Sponsoring Organizations: Putnam County Planning Department.; Putnam County Soil & Water; Wilder-Balter Associates; Preserve Putnam; Concerned Residents of Carmel/Mahopac, League of Women Voters; Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, Town of Southeast Open Space Committee; Friends of Belden House; Putnam County Coalition to Preserve Open Space; Incline Realty.
January 27, 2010
Re: Reapproval: Hilltop Properties
Dear Mr. Gary:
Dear Ms. Fanizzi,
Thank you for your e-mail on the potential natural gas drilling upstate.
I share your concerns about this proposal. I am currently working with Assemblyman Sweeney who is the head of Environmental Conservation Committee in the Assembly to ensure that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hears the concerns of New Yorkers. I have requested an extension for the draft environmental impact statement on the issue of natural gas drilling in New York. Although the date for public comments was only extended 30 days, there have been approximately 7000 comments received to date by the DEC. The comment period ends on December 31, so I encourage you to share your thoughts with the DEC if you have not already done so. You can do so at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/cfmx/extapps/SGEISComments/ .
I will continue monitoring those comments as well as the environmental and safety issues involved in this type of gas drilling. I will also keep in mind that legislation may have to be adopted in the future.
Again, thank you for relaying your concerns on this important topic.
Dec 17, 2009
Honorable Sandy Galef
Legislative Office Building, Room 641
Albany, NY 12248
Dear Honorable Galef,
As a member of Environmental Advocates of New York, I am writing to
comment on the Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact
Statement (dSGEIS) for natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale
formation because I have grave concerns about this fatally flawed plan.
Given current staff levels, the New York State Department of
Environmental Conservation (DEC) does not have the capacity to oversee
an industry known for playing fast and loose with the rules.
The DEC's dSGEIS:
* Lacks rules to limit the use of toxic chemicals in the drilling
technique hydraulic fracturing ("fracking")
* Does not protect streams, rivers or groundwater from large water
withdrawals associated with fracking
* Does not include a cumulative impact assessment or mitigation
measures to protect our communities from large-scale impacts
* Does not delineate "no-drill zones" or processes for
declaring sensitive areas unsuitable for drilling
* Proposes no regulations to protect New York's natural resources and
instead proposes a permit-by-permit approach that lacks teeth.
To protect our air, water and communities, New York State needs strong
regulations applied uniformly and enough staff to ensure the
regulations are strictly enforced. The DEC must also establish a list
of chemicals forbidden for use in drilling and propose a method to
declare sensitive areas of New York as off limits to drilling. New York
also needs a comprehensive water withdrawal plan to make sure that
drilling does not degrade sensitive fisheries or critical habitat.
Finally, without a meaningful cumulative impact analysis, the dSGEIS
bars the public from understanding how multiple well pads in an area
will impact air, water and community resources. It also makes proposing
or enforcing mitigation measures impossible. If nothing else, the DEC
should assess the 'worst case scenario' as directed under the State
Environmental Review Act and base mitigation measures on a
Please adopt my comments as policy. This is our opportunity to protect
the things that make New York State an amazing place to live--our clean
water, healthy communities and quality of life. If we allow drilling
without protective regulations or the staff to enforce them, we are
committing New York State to a future of industrial pollution and toxic
contamination. We need to act now to protect our natural resources.
Thank you and I look forward to your response.
Ms. Ann Fanizzi
I THINK THIS IS JUST TOO BEAUTIFUL NOT TO SHARE.
THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN VERY OFTEN....HE
LOOKS LIKE A GIANT SNOWFLAKE!!!
What absolute beauty only God
May your troubles be less,
Your blessings be more
And nothing but happiness
Come through your door!
I attended the Health, Education Environment subcommittee of the Legislature chaired by Sam Oliverio with Tony Hay and Anthony Fusco as members. On the agenda were two topics of concern: the discontinuance of the septic repair program and the status of the landfill; the two are connected. Forgive the length of this post but I hope it is well worth the time.
I will deal with the landfill first on Rte 6 and connect it to the Septic Repair Program. Recall this is the parcel that the DEC had targeted for cleanup for at least two decades. The issue was buried under 4 ft of contaminated earth until I believe the county discovered that the site was not only contaminated but could possibly contaminate the rosy picture of the adjacent site slated for the Camarda hotel/conference center. (Jerry Ravnitzky had written a letter re: that possibility which the county found).
Up arose the site and other environmental violations (i.e. petroleum storage, lack of recycling) on the DEC's radar screen with the agency promptly declaring the county in violation and threatening the imposition of heavy fines, up to $100,000.
On Sept. 2, 2008, an agreement (consent order) was reached between the County and the DEC on a whole variety of "multiple violations" which included the landfill and I am quoting from the DEC Press Release:
Putnam County Landfill
The county, however, convinced the DEP to relent (ergo the consent order above) and began a program of serious remediation, engaging a company to examine the various alternatives in terms of efficacy and cost analysis from capping to reclamation. Even gassification was considered.
What seemed the most logical appeared to be the following: The Town of Southeast also had a landfill which needed capping but didn't have the fill, so negotiations were begun between the County and the Town to truck the fill to the Southeast site, barely five miles distant. Much better than hiring a private trucker to do so. Money has stalled the negotiations; the legislature balked. Southeast wanted $3 million to take the fill, double the amount that a private engineering firm estimated. May was the deadline with the legislature and County Executive deadlocked over costs.
According to Bondi, the DEC would consider using East of Hudson Funds, earmarked for protecting the city's reservoirs for the waste transfer and therefore, the costs were really a non-issue.
But wait a minute. East of Hudson. Aren't those funds being used for the septic repair program? According to the county, after the first phase is completed which has about 131 applicants, the program will be discontinued. Cost and it varies - about $2,500,000. However, as outlined by Watershed Information Director, Barnett, there was also a second and third phase. Well those eligible for the program in those phases, will be phased out. How many are there in this group and how much is heing saved? Let's say another $2 to $3 million. Keep that figure in mind.
It will now follow a "loan model" with residents with failing septics buying in through no interest or low interest loans. According to Deputy County Executive Tully, the benefit would be twofold: the program - very expensive (some estimated $20,000 per repair) - would replenish itself and at the same time, the benefits would be extended to other communities, formerly seasonal lake communities on miniscule plots with equally intractable septic problems. I was very concerned with the possible dilution of EOH Funds targeted by law for residents in the Croton Watershed i.e. Lake Carmel especially or co-mingling of funds with a second program but was assured that would not be the case. Those eligible would still be recipients of EOH funds but now under a loan program.
In the meantime, the DEC is continuing its analysis of the site at a pace much too slow for the county. The urgency of arriving at some kind of a cost-effective plan was the hotel/conference center which sits adjacent to the contaminated landfill and sits and sits and sits together with six acres of prime commercial land which according to Legislator O'Dell, if developed, would result in $125,000 in taxes. The DEC needs to be prodded urged an exasperated O'Dell for there is an "End User" ready to buy and develop.
Remember the figure if cost shifting is instituted for the participants of the second and third phase of the septic repair program. were really a non-issue. The town of Southeast would receive what it asked. Voila the landfill cleaned and presented pristine to the "End User."
Quick - And who will pay for it? And who is the "End User?"
I wrote a post in response to the thread "Video on Prohibiting Free Speech in Carmel". Those of you who are interested can click on www.carmelresident.org and view the video. I want to hold the town officials feet to the fire and have reminded them of several promises made during the campaign.
Now that we have extracted three minutes at the end of meetings and at times, more, at the sufferance of the supervisor, it is time to re-visit the procedures for public comment. Let me enumerate a couple which are in place in several town jurisdictions.
1. Comments from the audience should be permitted after each agenda
item, when town officials can incorporate them into their
deliberations, not at the close of meetings whether workshop or
voting, as is the current procedure.
a. Residents of the Hill and Dale community beset by a proposed 150 unit senior housing project - Hillcrest Commons - had appeared before the Planning Board but without satisfaction. At my suggestion, they properly brought their concerns i.e. blasting, most prominently to the attention of the Town Board and made their case. Who benefited? Town officials, particularly Supervisor Schmitt who assured the residents that the development would not be built as proposed. This statement was reiterated at a Candidates Forum held at the synagogue shortly before the election and reported in the Examiner News. We know the Supervisor to be a man of his word, do we not.
b. Residents of the Mahopac Ridge brought their concerns over the proposed construction of a now notorious Park n' Ride on their Mt. Hope Community. And what was the result? The intervention of Town officials with the Supervisor and Councilman DiCarlo appearing before the legislature; the Town Board adopting a resolution addressed to the county legislature opposing the project and another resolution directing the engineer to develop an RFP for a traffic study of the vicinity of Mt. Hope. Additionally, the Supervisor responded in the affirmative to my memo requesting that a wetlands study be conducted by the Town.
I call upon the newly elected council persons - Mr. Lombardi and Ms. McDonough - to take the lead in introducing these necessary reforms to codify what they had espoused during their campaigns: open and transparent government and a long overdue return to resident participatory democracy.
As many of you are aware, CWCWC and the Coalition have opposed Hillcrest Commons (Rte 51, ShopRite) from its inception and have successfully litigated on several issues, one of which was possible impact on DEC officially listed Endangered Species. One of those species is the Indiana Bat found in NY State and underground on the slopes where Wilder- Balter wish to build their 150 unit senior housing development.
Although Wilder-Balter has stated that they would relocate some of their buildings away from the areas,
a problem still remains: since blasting must occur in order to construct the project, the consequences for the habitat of the Indiana Bat is dire and for the bat itself, lethal. It seems they live underground in caves and mines and according to the DEC fact sheet which I have reproduced below, "because bats hibernate in caves and mines, they are subject to flooding or ceiling collapse, both of which can and have killed thousands of individuals in the past."
Although Wilder-Balter has assured the public and residents of the Hill & Dale community that there would be strict adherence to the highest standards of the New York State Blasting Code (which does not do a thing for humans), I really don't believe that the law had bats in mind. I'm waiting with bated breath to read their Bat Protection Blasting Code. Certainly it will tax the expertise of the best blasters around.
In the meanwhile, what a Planning Board cannot do and The Town of Carmel won't do (enact sensible steep slope and ridge line protections laws, tree preservation and a blasting code, nature's own 2-inch mighty bat may.
Indiana Bat Fact Sheet
Subject: Letter to the Editor (Another Scary Precursor to
In my August 2007 Letter to the Editor, I attempted to put a face to concerns of opponents of the proposed Patterson Crossing, by encouraging readers to view the construction at The Retreat site for senior housing by Pulte Homes in Carmel. Likewise, the I-287 blasting accident last October is indeed another scary precursor to Patterson Crossing.
Your April 14th article relating residents’ experiences encountering fly rocks from this I-287 mishap was chilling to someone whose residence is within 500 feet of the proposed Patterson Crossing. Although the I-287 terrain is very similar to the Patterson Crossing site, it is not adjacent to the densely populated Lake Carmel Park District, which is comprised of many converted summer homes built to yesterday’s codes.
We, along with fellow residents, have experienced water issues of major concern, prompting us to take conservation measures, not allowing for the luxury of power washing construction dust from our homes weekly. Since this proposed site requires the blasting of steep slopes, were just one blast to go awry compromising wells, we could be faced with total loss of water, not just an inability to power wash our homes.
I urge our elected officials and public agencies taking part the in the SEQRA process to closely examine this issue of blasting so perilously close to our residences, along with the many other major concerns accompanying said project, so as to guarantee we residents are not placed in harm‘s way.
Lake Carmel NY 10512