BY CHERYL SLAVIN
Sharp words flew at the Stony Point Town Board meeting last night as several residents of the Gate Hill/Blanchard Road neighborhood expressed dismay over the clear-cutting of a large tract of land at that intersection. Resident Susan Filgueras also took the Board to task over its support for the Spectra pipeline project over Boulderberg Mountain, which she alleged has occurred without thorough environmental impact examination.
Both Frank Collyer and John Dineen had previously spoken out about the massive destruction of trees on the Amar property at Gate Hill/Blanchard at the Planning Board meeting a few days earlier. The latest plans on the 18-acre estate–which contains one of the largest homes in Rockland County–call for clear-cutting trees to install a fence around the entire property.
In addition to trees on a conservation easement along Gate Hill Road, all the trees on the Blanchard Road side of the property have been completely downed. It remains unclear whether this was done in furtherance of the fencing, or for another purpose, such as preparing the property for the installation of a helipad.
As they had at the Planning Board meeting, Collyer and Dineen continued their opposition to the destruction of the trees. Collyer again questioned whether the Town’s tree ordinance was applicable, and criticized Building Inspector Bill Sheehan’s assertion that there was no tree law and anyway, it didn’t apply. Collyer also implored the Board to finally appoint a Conservation Advisory Council as required by the tree law. John Dineen, who also lives in the neighborhood, described the destruction of over 100 trees and the resulting drainage, flooding and erosion problems that have followed. Both men also questioned the appropriateness of a helipad in a residential neighborhood.
Supervisor Geoff Finn responded that he wasn’t sure that all the downed trees were on Amar’s property, and that the helipad question rested solely in the hands of the state and the FAA. When Collyer answered that it seemed neither the Board nor the Building Inspector really knew what was going on, Finn sharply rebuked him that the Board cannot be everywhere and know everything, and that all the Board members rely upon the over 100 Town employees to do their jobs and keep them informed.
Filgueras also expressed dismay that the Board did not seem cognizant of the issues surrounding the Spectra line. She brought to the Board’s attention that the installation might include blasting, and queried whether the Town was ready to bring in sewer and water systems to homeowners along Mott Farm Road who might lose their wells and septic tanks.
“It really seems like they don’t know what’s going on,” Collyer continued to assert later to the Rockland County Times. “You talk to them about these things and they’re like deer in the headlights.”
In other business, Finn announced that the Town had received $74,000 in Community Development Block Grant money, which will enable the Board to finally approve a bid for the renovation of the RHO building bathrooms. The accepted bid of $169,500 from Pearl River Plumbing had come in over the amount of last year’s CDBG grant, and the Board had to wait for this year’s grant in order to make up the difference.
The Board also continued the public hearing on the damaged waterfront houses that are slated for demolition if the owners do not take action by June 6. No new property owners spoke, but Finn did report that at least one more owner has responded to the Town’s notice and is currently in the process of finalizing a buy out. Finn reiterated that the Town does not want to be in the business of taking down people’s homes, and will hold off on removing structures so long as there is communication with the Board and a paper trail to demonstrate an intention to remediate. The public hearing will remain open until the next Board meeting on June 10.
A proclamation was read declaring June 6, 2014 as “Francis M. (Mickey) Dorsey Day,” to honor Stony Point resident and World War II veteran Mickey Dorsey for his service during the war, including his participation at Omaha Beach on D-Day. The proclamation also recognized his recent receipt of the French Legion of Honor. A public ceremony will be held on June 6, 2014 at 11 a.m. on the steps of Town Hall to honor Dorsey and commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
At the previous Town Board meeting (May 13), the Board had approved the hiring of Turner Miller Group to assess the Letchworth Village property and make recommendations regarding zoning changes that might increase its draw for commercial investors. Speaking later with the Rockland County Times, Councilman Karl Javanes explained that it has been about 15 years since the town acquired the property and it was time to take a new approach in an effort to attract rateables.
By expanding the zoning of the property from “special recreation” to something that would include retail, offices, hotels and other businesses or commercial uses, he and his fellow Board members hope to make the property more appealing for serious investors. At this time the Board would not be addressing the conditions of the vacant buildings themselves, including the need for any asbestos abatement. Rather, the Board might include those issues later as part of its contract negotiations with potential tenants.