Proposed Biofuel Plant, CHPE Discussed at Stony Point Board Meeting

BY CHERYL SLAVIN

The “waste to fuel” gasification plant proposal that the Stony Point Board has been considering for several years once again occupied much of the discussion at the Town Board meeting Tuesday night.

Both Supervisor Geoff Finn, in his report, and SPACE president George Potanovic, during public input, expressed dismay over statements credited to Haverstraw Town Supervisor Howard Phillips on social media and at public meetings that appeared to contain misinformation and “unfounded accusations” regarding the project. Haverstraw is currently pursuing an Article 78 proceeding in an attempt to prevent the project.

Potanovic additionally urged the town to make all documents regarding the proposal available to the public in a timely fashion so that residents can remain educated and render informed conclusions about the proposed plant. Finn responded that information will be available on the town website and that it is the town’s intention to make the process as transparent as possible. He also noted that the town has no intention of approving any project that would cause harm to the residents, and that the Board is only interested in bringing in “clean rateables that would help Stony Point, the school district and the county.”

Planning Board Chair Tom Gubitosa later addressed the board to confirm that the proposal applicant also desires transparency with public input and involvement. To that end there will be a special joint meeting of the Planning Board and the Town Board on January 8, 2015, at which the applicant will make a full presentation about the gasification process. Both the public and elected officials will have the opportunity at that time to ask questions and learn more. Meanwhile, documents related to the project will be posted on the Planning Board page of the town website.

On the CHPE front, Susan Filgueras reported that there appears to be a discrepancy between the information on which the presidential permit was awarded to the CHPE developers and what Hydro Quebec states on its website regarding whether the transmission line will cross between Canada and the United States on land or under water. Armed with this information as well as other research, she, Potanovic and Councilman Tom Basile met with Congresswoman Nita Lowey to express their concerns. Filgueras and Basile both state that as a result of that meeting Lowey has committed to writing a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers to request clarification and express concern over the lack of transparency thus far. Basile also remarked that “it is clear that the project proposed back in 2011 is no longer the project being rammed through Stony Point.”

The board also continued the public hearing on the proposed changes to the sign law that would permit the installation of an electronic billboard in Stony Point. The hearing will continue at least until the next meeting on December 9.

In response to the statements made by Margaret Fonseca at the last meeting, resident Shawn Pezzementi, one of the owners of Northern Tree Services, also addressed the board during public input to “defend her family.” She stated that Fonseca is harassing her family, and not the other way around, and that the claims that they are in fear for their lives are highly exaggerated. She complained that her neighbors are irrationally training cameras on her property and hassling her children. She did admit that at one point her family cut off the Fonsecas’ access to the well water, but asserts that they weren’t entitled to it in the first place. She also admitted to parking trucks on her residential property, but added that her family is looking for a new property to move the business to.