Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)

Terravest Phase II and III Developments in the Town of Southeast.



Government Agencies

October 18, 2002

Chairman George Rohrman (845-279-7736)
Town of Southeast Planning Board
67 Main Street
Brewster, NY 10509 By Fax 845.279.8572 and mail

Dear Chairman Rohrman and Members of the Southeast Planning Board;

As you know, today, the last day to comment on the Terravest International Corporate Park DEIS, is also the 30th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. It is appropriate to offer these comments in celebration of the Clean Water Act at 30, since the holding of public hearings before an administrative decision protects due process - a valuable American tradition.

The impact this project will have on the Croton Watershed, particularly the construction and expansion of imperviousness, is critical. As a Board Member of both the Friends of Jerome Park Reservoir and the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality (BCEQ), I have first hand experience on the importance of public participation, as well as the need for "source" watershed protection. BCEQ presented "NEMO-like" conferences in Putnam and Westchester Counties to provide municipal officials access to tools to address "pointless pollution." Since many of your town officers were in attendance, we expect strong leadership abilities to increase watershed protection and lower impervious areas to existing conditions. Consider the impact of stormwater pollution on downstream communities:

"When one party, for its own enrichment, takes some public trust right that belongs to another -- such as clean air, uncontaminated fish, access to waters and fisheries; one's livelihood, health, recreational opportunities; or publicly owned resources -- it is as much as theft as if that party had stolen private property. When this theft is committed against the will of the polluted community but with government permission and protection, . . . it becomes a human rights issue, with troubling implications for our democracy and our judicial system." ~John Cronin and Robert F. Kennedy, The Riverkeepers

With this in mind, I submit the following as evidence that the DEIS is fatally flawed.

1. It does not review the impact of this project on the one million people who drink water from the Croton Watershed, as required by Executive Order 12898 and Title VI. In fact there is no clear text identifying the reservoir basin, when in fact, this project straddles two watersheds.

As a matter of fact, both reservoirs are in "enhanced" watershed sub-basins due to the connection to the two down stream reservoirs that supply water to the Delaware Aqueduct in times of drought. Therefore, this project should review the impact to the 9 million NYC water users.

2. Re-grading on this project changes the hydrology from one watershed to the other on such a large scale that the result is an irreversible and irretrievable impact to each watershed. Whether you can minimize your costs by dealing with the problems sooner, rather than later, this was not addressed in the DEIS. Since both the Middle Branch and the Diverting are phosphorus-restricted reservoirs, work in these basins as proposed by this applicant will seriously impact your town's ability to address the TMDL. You must realize that addressing the TMDL in view of the changing grades may tax your local economic resources beyond the benefits you may otherwise accrue. Developing the Town of Southeast Croton Plan should have clarified the problem of satisfying NY State's TMDL program with non-point source pollution.

3. Lower impact alternatives, as well as the no impact alternative, were not adequately considered. This is a fatal flaw. The least impacted and smallest size project should have been proposed given the major impact on water quality. Finally, the choice of mixed-use development trades off drinking water, storm water and sewage disposal infrastructure on different site plans. If there is an environmental asset to this design, it should be explained in terms of the savings this footprint brings to water quality basins. Otherwise, the approach to pipe sewage across the street resembles the failed "home de-poop revisited." There is no evidence of cluster parking for the residential, commercial or recreational uses.

4. Stormwater Basins are located in wetland buffer in violation of the MOA, is irreversible and irretrievable. Basins and all disturbances should be outside the 100-foot buffer. What is the status of the existing three basins? While it may be that the planning board can approve this as presented, the project may fail to pass the SPPP criteria. (By the way, the SPPP criteria is something your county and town signed on to when you approved the Watershed Agreement in 1997.)

5. The sewage treatment math is confusing. Is the change from existing 40,000 gpd to the new SSDA 51,000 gpd movement from surface discharge to subsurface? While subsurface can be good, it greatly depends on below ground conditions. According to Paul Mankiewicz, Ph.D. of The Gaia Institute, "The big problem with subsurface is that it is discharged below the greatest concentration of microbes. Colleagues in California and New Mexico have gotten around this by discharge into surface mulch beds." The DEIS does not answer this concern.

6. Where does the project describe the facilities Integrated Pest Management schedule, as well as ice removal facilities, in terms of the impact on the water quality in the basins?

In general, I do not object to development, just that which is irresponsible. As guardians of your town's plans, you are providing strong leadership. On the other hand, I have to watch out

for those downstream. I ask you to consider responsible sustainable development as a criteria for making decisions, and take that extra step.. In the words of Dr. Paul Mankiewicz, Ph.D.:

"Sustainable development continues to generate discussions in agencies around the country, but not much has been accomplished on municipal, state and federal levels to achieve sustainable goals. But now, the defining criterion is at hand: development is sustainable when it protects and enhances water quality in the watersheds where we live and work." (Paul Mankiewicz, Can we Drink the Water we Live with, Whole Earth, Summer 1998)

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this proposal. Please reply with your comments.


Karen Argenti

cc: Margaret Lloyd O'Connor
Mike Principe, NYC Department of Environmental Protection
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
James Tierney, Watershed IG

Karen Argenti
3330 Giles Place
Bronx, NY 10463

Karen Argenti - Events/Membership Chair
Bronx Council for Environmental Quality (BCEQ) -
"an aesthetic and unpolluted environment, with a natural and historic

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