Comment Letter to The Glen Cove Planning Board 12/9/16

garvies-point-mayor-798x1024 draft-comment-letter-dec-9-2016

December 9, 2016

 

 

Thomas Scott, Chairman

Glen Cove Planning Board

City of Glen Cove

9 Glen Street

Glen Cove, New York 11542

Re:            Applications for a Planned Unit Development (PUD), Site Plan Approval (Phase Two) and Amended PUD Subdivision Approval for the proposed Garvies Point Waterfront Redevelopment Project encompassing 56 acres on the north side of Glen Cove Creek in the MW-3 Zoning District (#1 on the Planning Board’s December 6, 2016 Agenda)

Dear Mr. Scott and Fellow Planning Board Members:

On November 16, 2016, I wrote to the Board informing you and the members that providing the numerous and voluminous drawings, comments, details, renderings, etc. regarding a multitude of areas as stated in your Resolution, “bulkhead system, wetland plantings, marinas, docks, ecology pier, boardwalk and beach, and other shoreline improvements” and “the esplanade and all public amenity structures” a mere two (2) weeks before the date of the public hearing when Thanksgiving week falls within this time frame is utterly and horribly inadequate.

At the Planning Board meeting held on December 6, 2016, I reiterated this complaint, especially in light of the fact that most of the materials were not even available on the City’s website until the week after Thanksgiving. I also informed the Board that the minutes/transcript from Planning Board meetings are not made available to the public and can only be obtained by submitting a FOIL request which delays the receipt of critical information. I informed the Board   that I would like more time for an expert to be able to review the numerous submissions as well as time to be able to obtain the transcript from the meetings, before being able to submit comments. Even though I made this request, the Board voted to provide the public with only 14 days from the December 6, 2016 public hearing to submit comments.

During the SEQRA review process for this project, concerns were raised regarding the existence and treatment of the remaining contaminants in relation to the stormwater infiltration system.

The Planning Board responded to the comments raised by stating that there was no issue or concern because “Captains Cove and Li Tungsten have already been remediated and only small, localized hotspots may be cleaned up during construction. This minor additional cleanup will not have an appreciable effect on the groundwater dynamics and the design of the stormwater treatment system” (FEIS, Comment C-4).

This statement, conclusion and position of the Planning Board was completely incorrect as confirmed by the Developer’s own consultant who stated that the “New York State DEC has expressed concern about infiltration relative to the site and contamination on the site. As you know, the site has undergone quite a bit of cleanup for different contamination on the actual site, and through the process has determined that it’s possible that the contaminated soils could potentially increase contamination into the Creek.” (Transcript from Planning Board October 18, 2016 meeting, pg. 10.)

On November 29, 2106, Lorenzo Thantu from the USEPA confirmed that remediation is still being conducted upon “vast portions of the properties that were purchased by RXR on November 22nd” as opposed to the “minor additional cleanup” as stated by the Board (email attached)(emphasis mine).

The Board also stated in its FEIS response that “localized hotspots may be cleaned up during construction”, the EPA states that “RXR has yet to receive final environmental approvals from EPA and NYSDEC as remediation activities are still ongoing on vast portions of the properties that were purchased” (see email).

As of this date, the Board has not looked at, let alone given a hard look at the “infiltration relative to the site and contamination on the site” and thus a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is required.

Ms. Ruskin, the Developer’s/Applicant’s consultant stated that the developer has “reevaluated the storm water design to treat the storm water, meet water quality standards, DEC water quality standards, through these different techniques; through green roofs, through the rain gardens that will have a liner, they will not have infiltration, also through a series of water quality treatment devices, which we have selected the jelly fish manufactured treatment device, to meet the water quality standards” (Tr. from Planning Board Meeting, October 18, 2016 at pg. 11)(emphasis mine).

The use of “different techniques” and a new storm water design requires this Board to conduct a Supplemental review, especially in light of the fact that no review was ever conducted regarding the infiltration relative to the contaminants.

Significantly, since the time when this Board first conducted its SEQRA review both the USEPA and the NYDEC amended and enhanced their clean-up remedies based upon additional contamination found in areas identified as recently as this year.

Thus, not only did this Board fail to study or give a hard look at the “infiltration relative to the site and contamination on the site” during its SEQRA review process, it never reviewed the infiltration relative to the newly discovered areas of contamination on the “vast portions” of the site and it never reviewed the “different [stormwater] techniques.”

By letter dated May 16, 2016, the Town of Oyster Bay wrote to this Board and confirmed that “[i]t does not appear that the impacts of the project amendments on water quality have been adequately addressed, in terms of stormwater management, including imperviousness bordering ecologically sensitive tidal wetlands, and measures to mitigate same .”

The Town of Oyster Bay, through its expert consultants, stated that this project should not “be held to the lowest possible standard for stormwater management given the size of the development and associated magnitude of stormwater runoff volume, and the site’s location adjoining critical coastal resources.”

 

Critically, the Town implored that:

A municipality’s stormwater program must ensure no increase of a listed pollutant of concern to waterbody on the New York State 303(d) List of Impaired Waterbodies. Glen Cove Creek was included on this List as of 2014; however, as a result of the cumulative effect of actions taken to abate stormwater impacts over the years, the Creek is slated for removal under a draft amended List released in January 2016. this should not be viewed as an easing of restrictions that provides an opportunity for additional impacts to be accommodated but, rather, should be treated as a hard-won environmental victory. On this basis, the project should be encouraged to include enhanced initiatives to protect and promote water quality improvements through proper stormwater management. It seems inconsistent that the project would be designed with only the bare minimum stormwater controls.

 

As Lead Agency for this Project, it is this Board’s responsibility to ensure that the environmental impacts have been given a hard look. The so-called waiver[1] of the 8” stormwater retention requirement received from the County of Nassau does not relieve this Board of examining the impacts of such waiver. As demonstrated by the County’s Resolutions of October 23, 204 (Resolution No. 9968-14) and Resolution No. 10021-15 (dated July 9, 2015), the County referred such impact determinations to this Board as Lead Agency. To date, this Board has never examined the impact of the waiver relative to the new stormwater design techniques and relative to the new information regarding the newly discovered areas of contamination.

The Developer’s Stormwater calculations submitted in October of 2016 state that on July 15, 2015 “hydrodynamic separator units was approved for use on this project in lieu of infiltration units in order to meet water quality requirements within this redevelopment project” and in the November 2016 Stormwater Management Summary, the Developer’s consultants state that Jellyfish Filter Devices “that features pretreatment and membrane filtration in a stand-alone system” will be installed.

Notably, New York does not have specific guidelines for BioFiltration systems and only three states have performed studies and research relative to the design (Minnesota, North Carolina and New Jersey).

Natural erosion and eliminating the known remaining contaminants has not been analyzed or studied. Seepage pits, chambers and infiltration – – – all are measures that will fail in the Captains Cove area where groundwater is close to the surface. When flooding overwashes the shoreline, or snowpack of 2-3 feet melts suddenly or rainfall exceeds 2 inches in a day (both events that have occurred numerous times in the past three years), these stormwater measures, which rely on some underground space, will flood and carry polluted groundwater directly into the Creek. There is no analysis of these likely situations in the SEQRA record nor in any of the follow-up stormwater calculations.

As development proceeds, more and more weight will be applied to the surface of areas with high, polluted groundwater, and this mass loading will change the movement of that groundwater. Much of this will seep towards the Creek and wetlands, increasing the pre-existing contaminant loading which has not been added to the calculations of the stormwater and remedial processes underway or projected for the future. And, as has just been demonstrated, the processes projected change from month to month.

It is this Board’s function, responsibility and purview as lead agency to make such determinations regarding these systems and their impacts. A supplemental environmental impact statement must be conducted based upon all of the foregoing reasons.

Sincerely,

/s/

 

Amy B. Marion, Esq.

 

 

[1] No written waiver has ever been provided to the public

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