Will a New Power Line Project Seize Land and Bypass Local Zoning Regulations in North Rockland?

BY MICHAEL RICONDA

Residents and officials continue to examine whether a new project designed to move electrical power from Canada to New York City may circumvent local regulations to take private property in Stony Point under eminent domain, according to local activists and elected officials.

The Champlain-Hudson Power Express, a high voltage direct current energy transmission line, has been proposed to move energy from power stations U.S.-Canadian Border through Lake Champlain and along the Hudson before reaching its final destination in New York City, where it will supply energy to Staten Island and Astoria, Queens.

The exact law which allows for the seizure is Article VII of New York State’s Public Service Law. Before a plan to build a transition line can move forward, it must be subjected to an Article VII reviewed and granted a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need by the Public Service Commission.

As part of this review, a code review of town and county regulations must be completed and another notice of certificate must be granted, which contains conditions spelling out what the applicant is permitted to do.

In their review for this certificate, CHPE applicants requested the waiver of certain town zoning and building codes, a move which was approved by an administrative law judge’s decision on December 27, 2012 and will be recommended to the Public Service Commission for their final ruling.

Current plan calls for the line to ground itself in Stony Point and run through the towns of Stony Point, Haverstraw, and Clarkstown before returning to the Hudson River. According to Susan Filgueras of the Stony Point Action Committee on the Environment (SPACE), it is highly likely that private homes will be taken in order to complete the project.

“You get an eighth of a mile in circumference in this project, so you say it looks good at this line, and from there, depending on what needs to happen, you have the right of eminent domain to move your project forward,” Filgueras said.

Stony Point Town Supervisor Geoffrey Finn stated that the Stony Point Town Board was opposed to the project and would conduct a public hearing with the applicant’s representatives on February (?) in order to clarify information on land seizures, the bypassing of local regulations, and environmental concerns which CHPE representatives have not addressed.

“We want to make sure that people realize that we are 100% against this project as a town and that we need this company in front of us to answer the questions that they’re not answering,” Finn said.Finn also stated that in response to the court recommendation in December, the town board will be requesting a sixty day extension of the public comment period.