Blooming Grove Considers Moratorium Extension & Solar Applications, Gets $244,000 Grant from Larkin Office
By Edie Johnson
Blooming Grove Getting $244,000 Truck & Police/Ambulance Corps Vehicle Grants
Senator Bill Larkin has notified the Town of Blooming Grove has received notice that he has secured a grant for $220,000 toward purchase of a truck with snow plow for the Highway Department and an additional $24,000 grant toward purchase of a specialized vehicle that will used by the Police Department and Blooming Grove Volunteer Ambulance Corps. to access areas with uneven ground, such as Mountain Lodge Park. The grant is through SAM (the State and Municipal Facilities Program) and will be administered by the Dormitory Authority (DASNY).
Any related work cannot begin until full authorization is received by the Dormitory Authority. The full approval process may take up to 24-36 months.
Moratorium on certain building applications have been extended for another 120 days.
While major portions of Blooming Grove’s Building Moratorium have been completed and officially filed, opening the door for certain construction, and numerous other code sections have been exempted and removed from the moratorium, the Town Board is continuing to evaluate a few remaining issues. The Conservation Advisory Committee (CAC), the Comprehensive Plan Committee and a new Zoning Advisory Committee will be making recommendations to the board in the coming 4 months about those issues. Two new members were added to the CAC to replace members who had resigned. Currently there are about thirteen building items that are exempt, within certain size restrictions. Some of those include: garages under 300 sq.ft, fences, 500 ft. or less renovations, solar (with approval from planning board if large scale), Non-Nuisance Light Industrial, projects already before the ZBA, well or septic systems, and home heating. Residents who want to proceed with these exempted items should check with the Building Department for specifics. With no comments by residents, the hearing was closed.
In other news: Tomahawk Lake residents were glad to hear that there will be a test of the new well system this Wednesday, and if it works correctly they will switch to the new well this week.
Lack of Conservation Areas A Priority
Several residents recommended that since Blooming Grove has not in the past reserved significant conservation areas, and has not conserved nearly as much as other surrounding towns, and said it should explore a relatively new designation that is available for certain areas as “Critical Environmental Areas” that can be restricted to special standards under SEQRA environmental review. Resident Terry Hughes commented that since there is already documentation about problems in recharge and storage of water in some areas, this data could help prove need for the designation. Supervisor Rob Jeroloman said that the town’s hydrogeologist is currently looking into whether there is enough data at this time to support the designation. Planning Chair Ralph Maffie said that one way they are seeking conserve more land is by incorporating PDR (Preservation of Development Rights) for some farms and open space areas. Maffei estimated that Blooming Grove has less than 5% of its land conserved, while the Town of Cornwall is said to have 40%. Council member Steven Amante pointed out that one reason that the Cornwall conserved space is so extensive is because of the approximately 4,000 acres of Black Rock Forest in their town. Kate Ahmadi emphasized that this lack of conserved space should be a high priority issue for Blooming Grove in the future.
3 Solar Projects Progressing In The Pipeline
Planning Chairman, Ralph Maffei gave a brief description of three large scale solar applications that are currently in application process. About 1 mile up on the Northeast branch of Round Hill Road, Cedar Creek’s 2 MG proposed project is well into the application process, but is dealing with buffering issues with over 20 acres of tree removal (an estimated 1700 trees) that will be done between the site and homes on Rena Marie Circle. A balloon test is required to determine visual impact. A drainage pond will ensure lack of runoff to neighboring properties. Access and egress along a very long driveway from Round Hill Road is being evaluated with Emergency Management in case of fire or other emergency. The Planning Board meets on the 4th Wednesday of each month and will continue a public hearing on this project at the end of this month. Councilman Steven Amante requested an estimate of the time frame that will be needed to complete the project. Maffei stated that, based on the time frame it took for the Johnson Farm Solar Project in Chester of similar size, he expects there will be 12 to 18 weeks of construction.
A third issue for this and the other large scale solar projects is a request for permission to apply herbicide in the areas around the panels if weed growth becomes a problem. If applied, the project management will be required to submit a plan detailing the proposed product use for consideration by the Building Inspector. Maffei added that the Alpine solar project representatives said they would definitely not use any herbicides.
New York Rising $600,000 Grant
Kevin Radday, who is on the new Zoning Review Committee requested that the town look into offering some help for the Washingtonville FEMA lot development, now named “Sewell Community Park.” Contributions for some simple additions like benches and especially some stone fill to help bring the ground level up from flood status could be a big help and would not be very costly. Richard Bachman suggested that they look into whether a small portion of the $600,000 New York Rising flood prevention grant money that is dedicated to Washingtonville could be used for the FEMA lot which is relatively low ground along the edge of the Moodna Creek.
Town Highway Superintendent, Wayne Kirkpatrick, will also be asked whether some highway worker time might be used to help with the Sewell Community Park development now that the Lasser Park football field grading and seeding as well as Mountain Lodge ditching is done. The ditching might even result in some extra fill that could be used at the park.