BY MARIA MIRAKAJ BROWNSELL
At a special town board meeting for the Town of Clarkstown on Tuesday, January 15, there was a public hearing on the “acquisition (by condemnation) of a permanent easement on a portion of property known as 59.18-1-22. Clarkstown Comptroller Edward Duer questioned witnesses about the property, which is located at 160 North Route 303 in West Nyack owned by Hauser Brothers Holdings, LLC.
The current location of the sewer pump for residents in that area is in a spot that is constantly being flooded. The town wants to move the pump to a new location and have a new, more efficient, design. An offer to purchase the property was made to the owner on December 28, 2012.
Deputy Director of Operations Ralph Lauria was brought up to question first. The current station is “140 years old. It is passed its life. It’s ended,” he said. The sewer department has put in temporary submersible pumps to hold things over, but every time it floods, it is impossible to access the location. It is a flood prone area, with runoff from the New York State Thruway, North Greenbush road and many other roads.
David Ackerson of H2M Group spoke about their contract with the town to analyze the existing system and to make recommendations on current anticipated flows. “The purpose of the easement is to install a newer system, safe to operate on a regular basis and to be able to access it during floods,” said Ackerson. There were three other sites that were analyzed before decided the Hauser property was the best choice. The proposed site will not impact any parking lot as it is in a wooded area.
The current site was the first to be analyzed. Due to it being flood prone, the damage to the current system ruled it out. Across the street is still in a flood prone area. Also there is not enough space on either side of the existing house to put a pump site. There is a county park that is adjacent to the residential homes, but it is also flood prone and being a county park not doable.
During the public comments, Robert J. Pryor, attorney to property owner, Timothy Hauser, spoke on behalf of his client. Hauser objects to the permanent easement. He and his attorney believe that it is not in the best interest of the town or themselves. They officially rejected the offer that the town has made.
The consultant for the town engineer recommended that the pump be located at the new location. “The old pump station will be dismantled and returned to its original condition and the easement will end,” he explained. Currently everything runs downhill straight into the pump station. There is a potential for sewer overflow in the current location. “The acquisition of the easement will allow for a new pump to station to comply with new regulations. It will be similar in size and appearance of a storage shed. There is no potential for significant environmental impact and will not interfere with use of the parcel as it is in a wooded area,” he continued.
“I am weary of the eminent domain concept,” said concerned citizen, Stephen Levine of Congers.
Town Attorney, Amy Mele, read a resolution to adopt the acquisition and the board approved it. The property was claimed through eminent domain against the wishes of its property holder.