ADVOCACY FOR NEIGHBORHOOD OR ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS
Hudson Highlands Environmental Consulting promotes the concepts of environmental planning, such as those expressed by Professor Ian McHarg in the 1970s. Land development must and will continue to occur, but construction need not go hand in hand with destruction of the environment. While Planning Boards and other approving agencies do the best they can in reviewing development applications, neighborhood associations and other concerned groups often have legitimate issues that are not being fully considered by the approving agency. HHEC has an established track record in successfully representing individuals, neighborhood associations, and not-for-profit environmental/land trust groups opposing proposed development projects. Projects reviewed by HHEC have ranged from something as simple as one single-family home (which was successfully stopped) to large subdivisions and retail developments.
Hudson Highlands Environmental Consulting can provide the expertise to review proposed development projects, including a review of site conditions and all planning and environmental impact assessment documents (such as Environmental Impact Statements). HHEC will look beyond the conclusions provided by the applicant’s consultants, as well as the review conducted by the agency’s staff and consultants, in order to uncover issues that may impact the interests of its clients. Testimony provided by HHEC has also proven very effective in Article 78 actions, with judges sometimes adopting portions of HHEC’s testimony word-for-word as part of their own written decisions.
Representative projects in this area include:
- Constitution Pipeline, Harpersfield, NY. Represented Henry S. Kernan Land Trust in opposing the open trench installation of a one-mile long section of a 124-mile natural gas pipeline proposed between Pennsylvania and Schoharie, NY. The pipeline threatened to disrupt the Charlotte Forest, an unfragmented forest notably completely devoid of foreign invasive species, as well as two high quality NYSDEC wetlands cited as being uniquely valuable examples of their type in New York State. The land that was proposed to be crossed is part of the 975-acre holdings that has been managed by the Land Trust since 1946. Previously unmapped sections of the NYSDEC wetlands to be crossed by the pipeline were identified in the field by HHEC and approved by the NYSDEC and ACOE. Employing a strategy of working in partnership with the NYSDEC, ACOE, and other agencies, HHEC was successful in having pressure put on the FERC to prevent the pipeline from impacting the Charlotte Forest and associated wetlands either by alternative routes or the implementation of HDD (horizontal directional drilling) to pass underneath the Forest. This initially resulted in a proposal by Constitution Pipeline for a 1.2-mile HDD that would have left the Forest and wetlands completely untouched. Constitution subsequently accepted an alternative route around the property that accomplished the same goal.
- Tuxedo Reserve, Tuxedo, NY. Represented two groups, Target Tuxedo and the Tuxedo Land
- Trust, in review of proposed plans and SEQRA documentation for a development of 1,195 residential units and 33,000 square feet of co mmercial space on a 1,197 acre site that would double the population of Tuxedo. Review resulted in identification of several issues not identified in SEQRA documents including undisclosed wetland issues, miscalculations of demographics and fiscal impacts, undisclosed groundwater impacts, failure to identify Nationally Register eligible historic resources, timber rattlesnake impacts (including the discovery that an employee cooked and ate a rattlesnake found on the property), underestimated traffic impacts, and segmentation issues under SEQRA. This review forced the Lead Agency to require a SEIS over the applicant’s objections.
- Sterling Forge Estates, Tuxedo, NY. Represented Sterling Forest Partnership in review of proposed plans and SEQRA documentation for a 107-unit luxury residential development with an 18-hole golf course. Review resulted in identification of several issues not identified in SEQRA documents including undisclosed steep slope disturbances, miscalculations of fiscal impacts, failure to identify Nationally Registered historic resources, unidentified wetlands impacts, timber rattlesnake impacts, underestimated traffic impacts, and miscalculation of allowable unit count under proposed zoning. Project was not approved, and the 575-acre site has since been purchased as part of Sterling Forest State Park.
- Stewart Airport, Proposed Drury Lane Access, Newbur gh, NY. Represented SPARC (Stewart Preserve and Reserve Coalition) in review of proposed plans and SEQRA documentation; review resulted in settlement to permanently preserve lands previously being considered for officepark development.
- IKEA, New Rochelle, NY. Represented WRAIN (Westchester Residents Against IKEA Now) in review of proposed plans and SEQRA documentation; review resulted in identification of several issues misrepresented in SEQRA documents, included assessment of potential flooding impacts on nearby neighborhoods, exaggerated assessment of neighborhood subject to eminent domain as “blighted”, and fiscal impact analysis. In face of opposition, the proposed project was withdrawn by the sponsor.
- Trailer Park Zoning, Stony Point, NY. Represented group of neighbors against Town of Stony Point in rezoning area to allow a trailer park with inadequate SEQRA review. Prepared affidavit for Article 78 law suit; zoning was overturned by court which quoted entire sections of affidavit in its decision.