April 28, 2011
Re: DRAFT GENERIC ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR DECLARATION AS SURPLUS AND SUBSEQUENT SALE OF 255 ACRES OF COUNTY OWNED LAND IN YAPHANK FOR MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT PURPOSE
Dear Members of the CEQ Board,
Let me begin by commenting that it is unclear to most in the Brookhaven hamlet community that the DGEIS for Legacy Village was still an ongoing process given all of the new developments related with this same land. To begin, it should have been tabled during the time while Brookhaven Town is undergoing a Carmans River Preservation Plan.
This week the CEQ should have put the plan aside and announced either a postponement or cancellation after the County Legislature voted to kill the Legacy Village proposal and replace it with their own plan. This is all extremely confusing to the lay people whose lives will be very much affected by the proposal.
Equally distressing is that DGEIS comments are due immediately after the report that Legacy Village’s author has been convicted of improprieties by the district attorney. It’s no wonder that public confidence in government is at an all-time low.
The Fire Place History Club, like the rest of the Brookhaven hamlet community, has been opposed to the idea of building a mini-city on 255 acres of County land in Yaphank since it was first introduced by Executive Steve Levy in 2005.
For the past 60 years, there has been an ongoing effort to protect Carmans River, beginning with the donation of 1,500 acres along the lower river by Maurice Wertheim in 1947. In 1962, New York State began a program of stream corridor protection by condemning Ken Hard’s 1,600-acre game preserve, today’s Southaven Park. In 1974, through the lobbying efforts of this community, the Carmans River was included in the NYS Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act. Since then millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent acquiring Carmans River
watershed land, the most recent last week with NYS’s purchase of 99 acres adjacent to Cathedral Pines, for $5 million.
This proposal to sell 255 acres of publically owned land for the purpose of intense development in the Carmans watershed flies in the face of 60 years of preservation efforts. It is incomprehensible to me to be addressing a DGEIS concerned with things like traffic, parking, jobs and payroll, entertainment, etc, when the whole concept of undoing past preservation efforts is absurd. This is the very land that we are spending millions of dollars to protect.
Even more distressing is the intellectual dishonesty that was used to push this ludicrous idea to this point. Throughout the County Executive’s five-year promotional period there was no mention of the existence of the adjacent Carmans River. It seems clear to me that Carmans River was intentionally omitted from all literature to avoid environmental concerns. As far as I know, there was only one exception to this general deceit, an early discarded proposal named
something like The Villages at Carmans River, which showed a diagram of a boardwalk leading from the development out to the river.
The whole process that led to this DGEIS is questionable and seems to be a sham:
The signing of contracts with a developer before the legislature voted to declare the land surplus. The plan and the contract calling for massive development on land that is not zoned by the Town for this kind of density. And using taxpayer money for the propaganda promoting the plan.
The DGEIS lists four areas, A – D. My understanding of the SEQRA law is that this is segmentation, but I’ll let others more familiar with the law address this. No matter what else comes from this plan, the FEIS should recommend that area A be transferred to the County Parks Department to become part of Southaven Park.
For the areas B, C and D there is no meaningful discussion of a preservation alternative, such as turning these areas into a nature preserve or parkland.
The Draft EIS was prepared at the same time as the Town’s Draft Carmans River Plan, where the Town’s goal is for the nitrogen level in Carmans River not to exceed .7 ppm. The Town’s plan should be considered in a revised EIS before any consideration is given to declare this land surplus for the purpose of auction.
Martin Van Lith, Chair