The Clarkstown Planning Board voted unanimously to to give Orange & Rockland additional time to put together Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement about a proposed substation at North Little Tor Road and South Mountain Road in New City.
At the , the board voted to ask for the supplemental report after a number of questions were raised during the public comment portion of going over the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), which spread across multiple meetings. At Wednesday’s meeting, a representative for O&R requested the extra time to come up with responses to the issues raised.
“I’m a bit surprised. Last [meeting], they walked out and all said it would be easy to put this together,” said Terri Thal, of the West Branch Conservation Association, Rockland County’s land trust. “I’m really impressed with the work we have done. I think we have done an amazing, amazing job. The group behind West Branch has done a really solid amount of research.”
One major issue raised by West Branch and others in the public comments section was to come up with a plan for if a fire breaks out at the substation and emergency workers need to get to the land. They also wanted to know who will be responsible for the damage to homes and property if a fire breaks out, as well as the trees and wildlife.
They also raised health concerns about those who live close to where the substation would go.
“Them asking for time to research our research shows that the work we’ve done is good,” Thal said. “It’s forcing them to confront stuff they buried.”
Thal said she and the group felt O&R buried certain things in the DEIS, such as the plan for getting emergency workers to the station should something go wrong and the possible environmental damage the station could bring.
The process for the supplemental EIS is the same as it was for the draft statement, with the same time periods and submission requirements. O&R can take as much time as needed before submitting the draft scope. Once it’s submitted, Planning Board staff will review the scope and make any suggestions, additions or deletions. It will then go to the board to be reviewed.
“There’s a period of 60 days during which the board can review the draft scope, finalize it and adopt it. So once it comes in, we have to be aware of those time constraints,” said Robert Geneslaw, planning consultant for the town. “While the applicant is preparing the revised draft scope, staff will be reviewing the transcripts and all of the correspondence that came in.”
Geneslaw said there are about three dozen pieces of correspondence.
“We may select things from that correspondence to recommended be included in the draft scope after it’s submitted by the applicant. We also want to ask the board if it’s okay for staff and consultants to begin to search for specialized consultants, the kind listed in the memorandum we’ve provided for you,” he said. “I think it’s going to take some time to find people who would be qualified and not have a conflict In particular, most of the experts in the electrical transmission world are employees or officers or consultants to the electric companies. So we may have some trouble finding somebody who is independent and not doing a substantial amount of work for the industry. We will all work with the town attorney’s office and several potential consultants in each category will be submitted to the board for approval with resumes and records of experience.”
Once the scope outline is approved by the board, the applicant will go back and prepare the supplemental DEIS, which is also not timed. When that comes in, it will go through the same process, and this time after the board approves it, it is made available for public review.
Geneslaw asked for the draft scope to be put on the town website since there is a public participation portion of the process, so this way people can view it without going to the town offices and requesting to see it there.