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Water Company Withdrew Similar Plan Last Year After Environmentalists And Neighbors Objected Due To Proximity To Lake DeForest
By Tina Traster
Suez Water New York Inc. is returning to Clarkstown for approval to build a storage facility and parking lot at its new headquarters on 162 Old Mill Road in West Nyack after an unsuccessful and drawn-out effort that faltered in 2019.
The water company, which withdrew its site plan application last September after neighbors and environmentalists vehemently objected to the proposal because of its proximity to Lake DeForest reservoir, is returning with a request to build a 11,050 square-foot prefabricated storage building, two loading zones, and 184 parking spaces.
Clarkstown’s TAC (Technical Advisory Committee) will consider the preliminary application on April 7.
Suez originally wanted to add a 60,000-square-foot storage yard with a slightly smaller 10,400 square-foot building that would have been used to park its fleet of vehicles and store materials needed to maintain its water system including pipes, hydrants, valves, etc.
The storage yard is still being proposed but it has been shifted east away from Old Mill Road, according to Clarkstown Town Planner Joe Simoes. He also said fewer trees will be cut down in the new plan.”
“Our site plan is a new proposal to move all of our operations to our headquarters on Old Mill Road,” said Suez spokesman Bill Madden. “This plan will meet all environmental and technical requirements.”
The original proposed plan on 26 acres would have created 48 new parking spaces for a total of 141 in the parking lots to the east and south of the existing building.
Suez has already moved its administration functions to 162 Old Mill Road, which it is leasing from Tilcon, for construction staff, management, and customer service employees.
In a letter to Clarkstown’s Planning Board last September, Suez wrote “After multiple continuations and adjournments with no next hearing date scheduled, along with diligent efforts by SUEZ to have the matter added to the Planning Board’s agendas, the Planning Board failed to adequately hear and address SUEZ’s application.”
In January 2020, for the second time in a row, the Clarkstown Planning Board deadlocked on a three-three vote over whether Suez’s application to expand its new facility on the former Tilcon site in West Nyack deserved additional environmental scrutiny. The issue at heart was whether Suez’s proposal should be subjected to SEQR review. Board Chairman Gilbert Heim, who is president of Rockland County Central Labor Union, AFL-CIO, was absent from both votes.
Community members and water activists had called for a SEQR (New York State’s Environmental Quality Review Act) process because they believe the project proposed potential danger to Lake DeForest and the watershed. A SEQR review would have delved deeper into the study of potential environmental impact and could derive at alternative solutions that could mitigate harm. Specifically, community members wanted a second look at proposals for storm water management, a permeable surface for the parking lot, better landscape screening, siting of the parking lot.
Nearly 7 acres, or 305,000 square-feet of land-disturbance, primarily paving and the building of the new structure mandated the installation of an extensive storm-water management system. The site lies within a few hundred feet of Lake DeForest. The plan called for the removal of more than 270 mature trees.