Lake Pocantico scoping session on key environmental issues

Nearly 20 speakers last week urged the Mount Pleasant Planning Board to consider a wide range of environmental concerns in its review of a proposed 31-lot subdivision for the Lake Pocantico shoreline.

Council held a public scoping session under the Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) last Monday for Meadows at Briarcliff Manor at 715 Sleepy Hollow Rd. ZappiCo Real Estate Development of Hawthorne is proposing the project for the 36.8 acre site.

Nearby residents and conservationists have pointed out how the potential for massive deforestation, the potential degradation of water from the lake, which empties into the Hudson River, as well as noise and traffic, will spoil the one of the most picturesque places in the county.

Several commenters also noted that what has been submitted so far by the developer provides scant detail on a host of environmental issues.

Old Sleepy Hollow Road resident David Mallett described the removal of more than a million square feet of tree cover as “astonishing”.

“It’s just not clear to me that the plans, the scope of which is being discussed here tonight, specifically address the impact of removing 90% of the tree canopy,” Mallett said.

Nancy Rogers Golodetz, who lives on Sleepy Hollow Road, asked the council to require the plaintiff to obtain a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers due to the immense level of tree felling. The Army Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction over all navigable waters and their tributaries, she said.

“The Pocantico River and the Hudson are both included on the New York State list of navigable waters (and) with over a million square feet of steep slope deforestation, many steep slopes, this development would have the potential to permanently affect the Pocantico River and downstream Hudson,” Golodetz said.

Additionally, traffic studies for the project need to be significantly expanded, including the intersection of Sleepy Hollow Road and Long Hill Road and the Old Sleepy Hollow Road extension, she said.

If the project is approved, construction impacts must also be mitigated, Golodetz said. Construction is estimated to take two years, with work taking place six days a week, translating to 624 days of disruption, she said.

New Riverkeeper president Tracy Brown said the review should focus on the water quality of Lake Pocantico.

“I want to make sure it’s recognized that the Pocantico River has been used as a drinking water reservoir in the past and there’s a chance it could be reused in the future,” Brown said. .

Charlie Sanders, resident of Kings Grant Way, said the Mount Pleasant Planning Board had already rejected development for the land in 1987 because it had been designated a critical environmental area by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEC) of State.

“It’s not just a critical environmental area, but pretty much the same project has been addressed by this council before and their involvement is critically important,” Sanders said.

Others mentioned that the submission was flawed. Attorney Adam Stolorow, representing several neighboring residents, said the developer’s scoping project does not meet SEQRA because it does not propose mitigation measures. He asked the board to reject the submitted scope.

“So they have to start by saying we’re not just going to be looking at land use, but in land use, here are the significant impacts we’ll be looking at, here are the alternatives, here’s how we propose to mitigate them, not an insane level of detail, but what they provided is generic, it’s not specific to this project,” Stolorow said.

Planning board chairman Michael McLaughlin assured Stolorow that any issues with the plan would be resolved.

“It’s up to us to have those things covered and we’ll make sure of that,” McLaughlin said.

Chairman Jeffrey Anzevino, director of land use advocacy for the environmental organization Scenic Hudson, urged council to consider the “irreducible” visual impact on the lake and nearby county park.

He also pointed out that there should be additional alternatives subject to subdividing the group of 31 lots and that each lot should be part of a conservation easement.

The hearing ended with a brief Pfireworks as the last speaker, Collin Breen of Sleepy Hollow Road, asked the board to investigate the developer’s background.

“What about the integrity of the developer? When is this going to be settled?” Breen asked the board.

McLaughlin ended the meeting without answering Breen’s questions.