As reported in April 24th edition of the New York Times, the DEP intends to withhold permits for the Belleayre Resort, effectively blocking construction, unless Crossroads Ventures does more to avoid polluting the city's upstate water supply. In it's DEIS comments, the agency said the development "does not embody environmentally responsible growth" as currently designed.
New York Times article (April 24, registration required)
Daily Freeman article (April 27)
DEP's DEIS comments, petition for full party status and related documents
Excerpt from Introduction
"This report provides the result of New York City Department of Environmental Protection's (NYCDEP) review of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), dated September, 2003, for the proposed Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, prepared on behalf of Crossroads Ventures, LLC (the "Applicant"). NYCDEP has a compelling interest in this project primarily because it is located in the watershed of the City of New York and protection and preservation of the City's water supply is of paramount importance for the one half of the population of the State of New York that relies on this invaluable resource. NYCDEP is not opposed to responsible, environmentally sensitive development in its watershed. Indeed. NYCDEP's position, as a signatory to the New York City Watershed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), as a participant in programs administered by the Catskill Watershed Corporation (where NYCDEP has voted in favor of virtually all economic development projects requests for loans or grants) NYCDEP has amply demonstrated its willingness and commitment to this principle. However, support for this principle does not mean that every proposed project meets this standard, or that legitimate concerns about a project contradict the spirit of the MOA. For the reasons set forth in this report, NYCDEP believes that the proposed Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park does not embody environmentally responsible growth consistent with the spirit of the MOA.
"The DEIS is fundamentally flawed and incomplete because it fails to satisfy the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and the riles and regulations (6 NYCRR 617) enacted to govern such reviews. The DEIS fails to take a hard look at the project's potential for significant adverse impacts on the environment because it relies upon faulty assumptions and data and inaccurate predictive models as the basis of its conclusions. Since the basis for describing existing conditions and identifying significant adverse impacts of the proposed project is flawed, the identification of effective, reasonably available mitigation measures is woefully inadequate at best. and conspicuously absent at worst.
"NYCDEP avers that the alternatives analysis has, likewise, failed to satisfy basic SEQRA requirements. namely in that it dismisses "reasonable alternatives." Identification of a range of reasonable alternatives which would lessen or mitigate potential significant adverse impacts is a basic requirement of SEQRA that remains unfulfilled in the DEIS. SEQRA, as a decision making tool, is not purposeful without providing this information. Having failed to analyze alternative development proposals as required under SEQRA, the Applicant failed to present the decision makers with a reasonable range of alternatives that could lessen or eliminate potential impacts. NYCDEP believes that the range of reasonable alternatives for this site can not include a golf course. Projects that have been considered and dismissed by the Applicant as economically infeasible are not necessarily the types of alternative development proposals that NYCDEP believes will enable us to reach conclusions that the impacts of the project have been mitigated.
"Unless the analyses in the DEIS are substantially improved and demonstrate that the impacts of the project as proposed or a reasonable alternative project have been accurately quantified using complete, consistent, and accurate underlying data and fully documenting the measures through which the impacts are mitigated, the Applicant has not discharged its duties under SEQRA that all potential significant environmental impacts have been adequately identified, analyzed and mitigated. As such, NYCDEP is not, and until such steps are completed would not, be able to issue findings in support of the project or approve permits pursuant to it's independent regulatory authority over stormwater discharges and wastewater treatment at the site. NYCDEP is concerned that it would not be able to issue permits for any of the alternatives that had been considered by the project's sponsor because our current rules and regulations do not permit postdevelopment loadings to exceed pre-development levels..."
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