Blooming Grove Addresses Upgrades for Water Protection
Two New Buses Approved for Seniors and Dial-A-Bus
By Edie Johnson
Phlox and wildflowers are abundant in Spring and Summer along the wetlands of Moodna Creek shores as it winds through Blooming Grove. A spectacular Summer scene, residents are gathering environmental ammunition in efforts to protect it. Last week’s meeting of the town’s Conservation Advisory Committee came up with several new proposals for the Town Board as additional steps to protect its waterways, and officials are adding a fourth. The big guns will be bringing in the worldwide prestigious Louis Berger aquifer group that can be poised to interfere if and when developments threaten to disturb the purity of the town’s currently large and healthy aquifer. One of those challenges will be the proposed high density cluster development of Clovewood (aka Lake Anne) in the Village of South Blooming Grove. Clovewood reps submitted their DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) last week, and the potential impact of drainage and sewer discharges from this piece of land that sits at the base of Schunnemunk Ridge has residents starting to speak out with a new urgency over what can be done. While the development is proposed in the Village, residents insisted it would impact the entire town, that there is a need to be “proactive”. They emphasized “Anyway, the Village is part of the Town.” Supervisor Rob Jeroloman said that while even though the village is part of the town, there are restrictions on what they can share or control, but that he does meet with Village Mayor, Jim LoFranco regularly and is waiting for his copy of the newly arrived DEIS documents. He brought the Berger Group onboard in the Village several years ago, and they have now been added to the Town’s professional resources for just this kind of situation. Meanwhile residents are asking, since Chester is dealing with a similar high density development and invited County Executive Steve Neuhaus to attend a packed informational session last week, to consider what the County can do for current residents who are feeling overwhelmed by the potential of losing their rural character by the possibility of a huge influx of new Hasidic residents with very different lifestyles. “We should ask him to come to one of our next meetings too”, they said. Officials throughout the area are concerned that some of these developments are not being marketed fairly and at large, but only to a select closed sect. There are legal questions about the constitutionality of restricted marketing. Chester Supervisor Alex Jamieson has said numerous times that if The Greens development is marketed to everyone there will not be a problem, but if it is marketed selectively he will vigorously object. But along Clove Road in Blooming Grove, the biggest concern is that earlier submittals describing the Clovewood proposal had sewage effluent going into Moodna tributaries. Guy Jones, who owns Blooming Hill Farm, which specializes in a large variety of vegetables, a cafe and artisan fairs, is downhill from the proposed project he says he worries that contaminated drainage could ruin his farm. Asked last week about the new DEIS, Mayor LoFranco said “This is only one step forward, and this project has many challenges ahead.”
Other protections that were offered from the CAC committee were suggested, including a proposal described by CAC member and former Deputy Supervisor Johanna Kiernan, to put specific limits on the distance that must be maintained of any building or disturbance within several hundred feet of any creek or tributary. Jones added that they had discussed the possibility of hiring a Town Forester that would oversee any tree-cutting in the Town. With awareness that trees along waterways help filter drainage and prevent erosion, efforts will be made this weekend at Otterkill and Taylor roads to do forestry management as part of the Trees for Tribs (tributaries) Program (see Community Calendar).The Town has made numerous efforts to entice some commercial development, but with a strong stand to insist that Smart Growth standards are followed, and first on that list is to protect water resources.
A new Citizens Zoning Group will meet regularly to discuss possible additional code restrictions and zone divisions with a goal to help the Smart stay in their plan for Smart Growth.
With a Supreme Court decision this week on the Constitution Pipeline that says municipalities and citizens have a right to protect their water, the law has made a big step toward local water protection rights.
New Vehicles Needed For Seniors and Dial-A-Bus Users
After a month-long process of evaluating the deteriorating condition of the two buses that have allowed seniors, challenged adults, and others with no transportation to get their necessary shopping done, go for doctor appointments and attend entertainment venues like trips to the new casino and Westchester plays, mechanics in the Highway Department gave the bad news that the van used for these trips is not ADA compliant and is also not suitable for children. It is currently out of use. The other vehicle has cracks in its structure and will soon present safety issues, and currently has 177,000 miles on it. Former Supervisor Bob Fromaget had gone to great lengths setting up bus services for the elderly as well as a number of fitness and education programs that keep the towns’ seniors more healthy, participating, and active, so the bus and van have seen good use. After Supervisor Jeroloman and Highway Department Superintendent Wayne Kirkpatrick along with the town’s mechanic researched available vehicles online, they traveled to the largest provider, a place with 4 lots full of possibilities. Board discussion centered around not just the very successful current uses, but other possible uses Board member Tom DeVinko said he sees many other uses, and some they have not even thought of yet. Asked if additional uses would be permitted, Jeroloman said that since they would own them, they would not be restricted as to their use. Further, given as much as they are used, it will be helpful that if one has to be serviced there will be a backup. Chuck Quick added some insurance qualifications that would be necessary, and the board voted unanimously to allow Jeroloman to authorize both purchases, as long as the second mechanical inspection confirms their good condition.
The 2 new vehicles, a 2012 E450 with 37,760 miles and a 2007 with 21,692 miles in pristine condition will cost a combined $55,000 minus whatever the town gets from auctioning the two existing vehicles, which is estimated at over $17,000. This keeps them at or below the $50,000 leaving a remaining $50,000 for the other senior programs. The plan is to purchase the vans this week as long as they pass muster on 2nd inspection.