I thank the town board and town officials for this opportunity to speak.
There have been many valid points made this evening. And there are, no doubt, many more people who wish to add input on the Master Plan. In order to allow everyone's voice to be heard, I ask for as much time as necessary, more meetings if necessary. Give us more time to address/comment/ask/get answers to the important issues raised in this meeting and in written comment. To enter into any meaningful dialog requires more than a three hour meeting.
I suggest not just town hearings, but town dialogs, where questions are asked, explanations given, visions for our town shared and exchanged. We ask simply for the ability to shape our future together.
Concerning the DGEIS, I ask for:
* A full scale study of how our property/school/fire and all taxes will be impacted by the entirety of proposals projected in this current Master Plan. No business accepts a proposal without an estimate. For that reason alone, we cannot accept the Master Plan, Laws, Traffic Circulation Plan and DGEIS. We don't know the COST of these recommendations, and it is ludicrous to continue down this path of development and poor planning without just consideration of the outcome. We want a PRICE TAG, for the totality, and as it breaks down per taxpayer.
* Impact of the entirety of Master Plan's proposals on our community aquifer, as well as the regional aquifer. Timing and cost of implementing, cost of maintenance of this pipeline throughout the 57.5 square miles of East Fishkill. Timing and cost of implementing sewage lines throughout the 57.5 sq. miles of E.F., as well as Timing, cost of implementation and cost of maintenance of waste water treatment plants for this sewage. Consideration must be give to location of these treatment plants, purchasing land. Environmental studies must be made to study releasing treated water back into the regional aquifer. Again, we want a PRICE TAG.
* A full scale studies of the impact of development on the groundwater/aquifer recharge area lost due to paving and development, as well as runoff considerations with plans for mitigation.
* Cost of acquiring land, construction, maintenance, and costs of the beltway, and requisite configuring of road distance expansion to service the scope of proposed population expansions. How many more miles of road must be laid and cared for at the tax payer's expense?
* Calculations of the tax burden of tax break incentives to businesses. Exactly how much have we lost to date, and what are are projected shortfalls due to this town policy?
* I ask for a comprehensive DGEIS on the CURRENT impact of development applications which are before the board. We don't even know the immediate cumulative impacts of these.
I take exception to the following language and content of the DGEIS:
* The DGEIS states:
"Slowing growth, however, may have the effect of putting upward pressure on the sale price of homes within East Fishkill."
This item is erroneously placed under affordable housing. This has nothing to do with affordable housing, and everything to do with another justifications to build build build. Affordable housing can be addressed without building every available acre and letting builders run rampant. I ask for further options to be explored to that effect.
The DGEIS states, in so many words, If we do not continue to develop, house prices will rise. But let's explore the obvious opposite. If we continue to develop, our home values will sink/plummit/decrease. This example is from the DGEIS, not me.
* DGEIS states that in the future, enrollment in schools will decline. This was based on one study in one school district, and cannot be applied to the totality of our town's future, and was done with little or no knowledge of current build-out plans. It's not realistic to plan on nearly doubling your town population and pretend we'll have less children. This study was based on a trend. That trend could change, perhaps with a demographic shift. This town should make preparations for a potential rise in children attending school.
ALSO: as an aside, I find it horrific that our children attend high-school so close to the contaminations beneath the IBM's property.
* I ask for a study on if it more economically favorable to develop or to preserve? Do we have more money in the town coffers from development or farms and open space?
A recent study found that for every dollar of tax revenue collected from residential land uses, local governments spend an average of $1.36 to provide services. By contrast, for every dollar received from agricultural land uses, local governments spend only 21 cents. Much of the dfference is attributable to school costs. As the study wryly notes: "Cows don't go to school."
- Study from Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Communities, Jim Howe, Ed McMahon, and Luther Propst
Concerning the Master Plan:
* Where is a comprehensive Disaster plan for the proposed build-out? What would we do under different emergency/disaster scenarios? This must be addressed.
* We desparately need an East Fishkill Hospital, which would serve not just the community but the region. The town should consider this attractive both as it both serves the community and has positive economic implications.
* East Fishkill should stop it's tax incentives to businesses at the taxpayer's expense. No more free rides. Instead, these tax incentives should be awarded to environmental businesses or industry that protect open space and resources. This is incentive not to pollute. Why did IBM have tax free status? Should they not forfeit that right and owe back taxes when the polluted? In short, I'm asking something in return for tax incentives.
* I'd also like to know why there are no tax incentives for agricultural industries. Why are we not incenting new farms into the community, nor helping existing working farms? Why is there no true agricultural zoning?
* I ask for concrete implemtation laws on the town's "first right' to buy up available open space. Tax incentives could be used for citizens to purchase open space. The town could also work with such land buying agencies as The Nat. Conservency, or the state, to negotiate these purchases.
* I ask for severe development limitations of beltway, express and/or service roads meant o ease congestions. Let's keep roads that express express.
* There should be detailed guidelines of how the recent Hudsonia study should and should not be used. Hudsonia recommends consideration of various terrain as applicable to development constraints. It examines probabilty of certain rare or endangered species in certain areas.
Before developing a property, I ask for manditory Full Three Seasoned Natural Resource Inventory on every property about to be developed. Hudsonia's study is NO SUBSTITUTE for a NRI, and should be so noted in the new Master Plan.
* I stand firmly against the town purchasing a polluted and contaminated site: none other than the IBM rec. facility.
* Because of watershed protection, I ask for microfiltration on all new water processing plants. I also ask that all current water processing plants be upgraded withing the next 3-5 years.
* I move to make preservation of open space manditory in each and every new development. Open space preservation should NOT include: setbacks, buffers, wetlands, steep slopes, floodplains and/or other town, state and federal restricted lands. Open Space preservation is to be Critical Resource Land which would be set aside for people from this and future generations to enjoy.
* Why is there only one Master Plan scenario. I ask for greater creativity. We ask for alternatives. Why is there only one?
Must we just play connect the dots game between current prior poorly planned suburban sprawl to future congested urban density proportions? Should we shrug our shoulders and say "that's the way it is" or can we aim a little higher? Can we even try to preserve the area beauty for our children? Can't we have a larger vision of conservation, open-space and commutity preservation?
The future that is offered us is a town packed with people, with the local character of strip malls and factories and checkerboard development lots, and a recreation center on top of a superfund site. And, the bonus is that our house prices will decline. A great place to live?
Surely, we can do better.
Išve heard therešs a lot of development pressure in town. Well, from now on wešre putting some on pressure of our own.
I call for a MORATORIUM on building until the MasterPlan is completed and implemented. We have had poor design long enough. It's time for a better way.
I also say: Give us more time. We hope to work together with town officials for a future that profits not just the opportunistic development carpetbaggers, but a future the benefits us all. Let us not become another town that people say "don't let your town become like East Fishkill. But let us envision a town that genetations hence will nod and say Well done!
I thank all town officials for their service to the community.