Written Comments To the Town Planning Board for the Master Plan Public Hearing
Law A. The town should join the Greenway Compact only after it has adopted local wetlands laws .Town wetland laws have been proposed by the town's Conservation Advisory Council. Model guidelines are available from The Dutchess County Environmental Management Council. Minimal recommended guidelines are in the Greenway Compact(Stream Corridor Protection section). Why are wetland laws and ground water studies lacking in this Master Plan? Wetland laws would provides a suitable basis for measured growth ,particularly the CRD cluster homes which represent higher densities that may add over 900(?) additional housing units to the town. How can we assure current residents and well owners that wetlands will be adequately preserved if this Master Plan lacks local wetland codes and state and federal laws are seldom enforced or monitored? How can we consider streamlining the approval process for development without the assurance of basic wetland protections?
I disagree strongly with the Town Board's finding that its proposed Comprehensive plan and each law implementing it, is "congruent and consistent with the (Greenway) guides". Without local wetland protection and a commitment to our major green corridors, The Taconic Parkway and the Fishkill Creek, this Compact with its overriding home rule clauses is nearly meaningless.
The transportation section of this Master Plan should set forth a long range commuter plan centered on light rail trains if the density and expense warrant it and clear;y set forth an alternative of shuttle bus collectors. Quiet, light rail is well suited to our area. Park and ride collection for shuttles and voluntary shifts to public transit alternatives only work when jointly planned as community efforts with pooled community and private institutional assets. This includes bypass roads. The top down restructuring such as is occurring with by-pass plans, the interchanges at the Taconic, and doubling of the current 2 lanes to 4 passing through Hopewell Hamlet will carry added risk of failure without genuine community input.
I strongly disagree with the finding of no significant impact and no need for mitigation for the bypass roads. If major bypass roads are planned, as indicated in this transportation plan, let the public consider them. I want an open analysis of the bypass roads and their impact in this SEQR process now and within a Full Generic Environmental Impact Statement.
Why doesn't the plan's transportation section address the problems of moving heavy freight through the town? Heavy rail freight is unfortunately no longer feasible in our area. Safe freight routing and mitigation of its dangers, noise and pollution should be addressed in the plan.. Freight trucks cannot be swept under the rug, ignored, and dumped on substandard rural routes through residential neighborhoods. Safe roads cannot be cobbled together with bits and pieces of already dangerous roads in a segmentation effort.
The proposed Master Plan includes Peter Idema's demand that "a grade-separated diamond interchange should be swiftly constructed" at Carpenter Road/Taconic Parkway. The Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) claims that "vegetative loss will be minimal with new construction." How can this sweeping pronouncement be substantiated without any conceptual drawings or scaled engineer's drawings of the proposed diamond interchange? I strongly dispute this claim. Wetland vegetation critical to the connective corridors of the Fishkill Creek and Taconic Parkway's will be lost and this loss should be addressed in this SEQR process. This grade-separated diamond interchange will have significant adverse impact. The impact of the overall bypass project to restructure the town's roads should be reviewed along with zoning changes in this DGEIS.
An overpass would require a massive ten acre "footprint" in an intersection that has wetlands on all sides. Even the median of the Taconic Parkway is wetland there. If the current intersection is totally surrounded by wetlands that flood up to the roadbed (as water lines indicate on the tree trunks), where can you put an ten acre interchange, or a 4.6 million dollar gas station and 2nd train station? No scaled drawings of this proposed interchange nor any of the publicly funded accident studies of this interchange are yet available to us though they have been sought through Freedom of Information Laws. Why is the public kept in the dark about critical details of potential displacement of their homes, displacement of wetlands, and the safety of residents? When public access to key documents is denied, informed decisions can't be made. Why does this DGEIS exclude these elements of the plan?
As an alternative to the overpass, a limited weight connector road can be built under the Central Hudson power-line from Stormville Road to Philips Road near the existing Beekman/Taconic overpass. This inexpensive alternative would benefit the nearby Eastside homeowners who want direct access to the Taconic Parkway. The Fishkill Creek could be buffered by additional wetlands conservation with tax advantages for landowners there. Why has this alternative been dismissed?
The present rate of development has exceeded the safe capacity of our roads. Florida has Laws of concurrence that maintain safe road capacity before development proceeds. We sorely need concurrence laws in East Fishkill. Exceptions can be made as incentives for infill areas to discourage sprawl.
CRD Law. I favor cluster development and commend the board's efforts. The discount for wetland areas should be 70% rather than 50%. This would bring the total additions to current zoning closer to 700+ units instead of 900+. The maximum density should be 3.5 units per acre on land for more flexible resolution of sewer and water problems. This would also ease the strain on school resources.
Law J. I support this law to eventually end mining in residential areas.
Law L. Affordable housing should balance the needs of town service providers, displaced Lake Walton residents, and the town's school taxpayers who must absorb costs near $13,000 yearly for each additional child in the school system. "Impact fees" would offset the imposition of new infrastructure costs. Builders do not need additional incentives to build affordable housing in East Fishkill at this time.
Our schools are full. No land has been set aside for additional schools although Stormville has long needed a grade school. The master plan should address this. The proposed expansion of Town Hall should be addressed. The land use section of the plan generally encourages the misconception that the town is "land rich". We have wetland and mountain water shed areas. The remaining land should be carefully evaluated for future parks and unforseen public infrastructure requirements to offset greater densities.
A building moratorium should be put in place for large tract and industrial development until the town adopts a new master plan, resolves major funding issues, has in place wetland laws that will protect water sources and in particular assure preservewthat the superfund site does not expand. The possibility of impact fees must be explored. The town should clearly delineate funding sources for all capital improvements and new infrastructure. Who will pay for what? Prudent planning requires analysis of all revenue sources . Do housing and industrial tax ratables pay their way? Will the plan require bond issues? What is the funding of quasi-public institutions such as The Dutchess County Water and Wastewater Authority? What do they control? I thank the Town Board for efforts and its consideration of this letter.