Present: Ric Coombe, Bill Layton, Carl Stuendel, Pete Bracci, Mike McCrary, Linda Burkhardt, Catherine Magarelli, Stephen Walker, Anthony Van Glad, Toni Coiro and Counsel Jeff Baker.
Others present: Marge Miller, Michelle Yost, Frazier
1.Call to order: 6:18pm.
2.Minutes: – Sept 15, 2014 – Motion to accept Peter Bracci; second Bill Layton. Accepted.
3.Privilege of the floor: – none.
4.CWT Membership Dues letter: – Carl a.k.a., Chairman Stuendel, informed the board about a change in the letter that will go out to members regarding dues. He felt that in light of the status of difficult budget development in the towns and counties these days he thought a shorter more concise letter at this time would be more effective as they are probably very busy doing their budgets and the CWT may be a bit late to make the pitch to get a line item in their budgets for 2015. He proposed that early in 2015 to send out a more comprehensive letter explaining to all the members about what the CWT has accomplished on their behalf, the CWT’s role, what the CWT is currently working on and is anticipating over the next year or two. After consulting with Exec. Committee Members that expressed the most concern about informing all members, at the September meeting, he went with the shorter letter which was mailed out this afternoon. Carl read the letter to the Exec. Committee. He pointed out that he had taken the advice of using bullet points to make it more succinct.
a. Status of Flood Mitigation Program:
i. Water Supply Permit Change –
The Final Revised 2007 FAD issued May 2014 stipulated a NYC funded Flood Buyout program. All Watershed stakeholders realized that the implementation of this program would require a modification to the language of the December 2010 Water Supply Permit (WSP) which at present does not allow the city to purchase any developed properties. The new language would have to make an exception allowing the City, with community approval, to purchase 1) developed properties in hamlet areas contributing to flood hazard situations and 2) developed properties outside hamlet areas that in another severe weather event are at high risk for sustaining damages that would significantly impact water quality. At the July 21, 2014 CWT meeting, the executive board discussed language proposed by David Warne. Fearing his language might be construed to mean that willing home or business owners could deal directly with the City thereby bypassing the stipulation for local government approval of any such transaction, participants urged counsel Jeff Baker (in conjunction with City attorney Hilary Meltzer) to develop language making it clear that no sale could occur without local board approval.
At the September 15 CWT meeting the Executive Committee was informed that NYS DEC had proposed its own change to the language of the WSP. Jeff and Carl had not seen DEC’s language, but, as a result of conversations with DEC’s Tom Snow, they were concerned that DEC might deemphasize community approval as a necessary and critical component of any City buyout program. On September 29th, Jeff was able to get a copy of DEC’s proposal from Hilary. The language was shared with Carl and Dean. It reads as follows:
b. Parcels of land participating in a federal, [or] state, or City flood buy-out program need neither be vacant, as defined in Special Condition 8, nor meet the size and natural features criteria, as set forth in Special Condition 9 nor are such parcels subject to the acquisition exclusions (hamlet or designations) in Special Condition 10. Fair Market Value for parcels of land participating in a federal, [or] state, or City flood buy-out program may be determined in accordance with either the process established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or as set forth in Special Condition 13. Any parcels of land acquired under a federal, [or] state, or City flood buy-out program which will be held in fee by a local government rather than the City which are protected from development in perpetuity by deed in accordance with the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 5170c, are not subject to Special Condition 21(a). The provisions of this Special Condition 7(b) referring to a City flood buy-out program will be subject to the same local approval requirement contained in the federal and state buy-out programs. This provision will allow each municipality the opportunity to review each potential acquisition and determine if it should be purchased by the City prior to acquisition. Municipalities also have the option to conditionally approve such acquisitions, if necessary.
Shortly thereafter, it was circulated to Delaware Planning, and they responded with their concern regarding the language that reads, the “City flood buy-out program will be subject to the same local approval requirement contained in the federal and state buy-out programs.” In short a conversation between the Chairman, Delaware County Planning, and Tom Snow, Tom was able to see that under a federal or state buyout program Delaware County becomes a sub-applicant and is not required to get local community approval, and therefore the local municipality could be circumvented. He was willing to remove that language. Under a City Buyout program in Delaware County the Planning Department or another consultant will assist those municipalities that decide to participate in the Flood Buyout Program funded by NYC.
ii. Relocation Meeting Follow-up – Michelle Yost raised concern about the fact the language regarding how inundated properties would be handled is not yet complete. She expressed grave concern for some properties that are at very high risk that cannot be addressed until that language is resolved. Carl informed the board that it was his understanding that language is now in the City’s hands and we are waiting for that. Carl said he would inquire about the status of this. Municipalities have the right to decide to participate in the FBO program, only if there is a relocation program. Counsel recommended that communities not make decisions on a case by case basis about individual properties, because he believes they would be more at risk for lawsuits based on arbitrary and capricious grounds, than if they did a blanket statement for the community as a whole.
iii. Kevin Young’s Regulation Position Paper (buyout and relocation regs). Kevin is still working on it and will run it by the TAG group on October 31st for input.
b. Kurt Ossenfort Proposal – Jeff has a copy of the contract on his desk. Ric Coombe proposed that the CWT consider paying extra to have him develop a five minute introductory film covering what the CWT was about in the early years of its formation. There was full support for the idea, but no motions were made at this time. There was no decision made as to when to bring this subject up with Kurt Ossenfort.
c. Watershed Inspector General – Windham- The Windham project has received its FEIS. Jeff explained, for the benefit of those unfamiliar with the role of the WIG, where the position came from on and how the WIG interfered with this project. The position is jointly appointed as an Assistant Attorney General by the Governor and the Attorney General to assure the City enforces their regulations. There had been a history of the City not enforcing their regulations in the late 80’s, especially related to their WWTPs and so Environmental Groups pressed for this position in the MOA. His role is not that of a regulator, which the current WIG seems determined to play, which is causing problems on projects in the watershed. There is concern that the WIG may throw his [its?] weight around in the 60 day comment period on the Belleyare project. Note the DEC granted the 60 day request for comments. The WIG doesn’t have the authority to regulate. It is an independent position with no term.
A letter to the AG was discussed. Counsel recommended that the CWT focus on what is in the executive order in terms of the WIGs authority and inform them that he is acting outside the parameters of the Executive Order. His purpose is to intercede in circumstances where regulatory agencies fail to regulate, to solve their lack of enforcement. Mike proposed that any letter cite the history of his actions that are outside the scope of the Executive order. Jeff will draft a letter to send to the AG.
d. Septage Hauling- The critical changes were made in mid-2013 which caused substantial problems. Tony C. pointed out the water quality ramifications this has caused for smaller operators versus larger operators with more flexibility of storing the waste in trucks. Mike pointed out that this is also a water quality issue. Frazier reported haulers in Delaware County are having the same problems. Walton and Delhi WWTPs have been able to take the two operators deliver, but charge a tipping fee. Cost is being passed on to the homeowner and hence to the CWC program funded by the City. It is not clear if Hunter and Windham WWTPS are taking waste.
e. Below Dams Activities
i. Delaware – Frazier reported that the Friends of the Upper Delaware River annual Water Waters Everywhere conference went well, it was well attended, and there is strong interest from other communities on the tailwaters and upper mainstem. Great program. Congressman Gibson reported at the conference that he will be pursuing the use of a flood control dam in NJ to use as a source to mitigate salt movement upstream with the goal to minimize the use of NYC reservoirs for that purpose. The idea is that it could help provide more flexibility in terms of releases from the NYC dams. Mark Klotz (Director DEC Division of Water) and Paul Rush participated as presenters. Frazier reported that the UDRTC, will be meeting with Mark Klotz, his key staff, the Director of NYSDECs Division of Natural Resources, DOH and DOS, to discuss their goals, especially the development of a SCMP. Kevin Young and Laura Bomyea attended the UDRTC meeting on October 16th and are working on organizational options to create legal standing for the UDRTC.
ii. Esopus – N/R
iii. Schoharie – On October 31 there will be a ribbon cutting from 10AM to Noon to celebrate the completion of Category 212 B of the dam rehabilitation. All the Brass will be there, including a well-known spiritual icon and leader. Tony reported that bids for the lower level outlet will be let out early in 2015. He also reported that the Mohawk Valley Regional Flood Commission is ongoing and pursuing funds for stream studies. Congressman Gibson, Senator Seward, Pete Lopez, Supervisors and agencies to develop stream studies sit on this Coalition. There are some DOS grants available for the study. It’s a long process. After a long delay, due to changes on the Schoharie Board of Supervisors, it appears that the financing of the EWP work from the 2011 flood is settled and work has begun in two different streams.
6. Warrants and Treasures Report:
Checkbook – $1,000.11
Savings – $85,209.84
Tony moved to approve the treasurer’s report. Ric Coombe 2nd. Passed
$295.38 to Young/Sommer. Tony moved to approve, 2nd by Bill Layton. Passed.
$0.96 to Delaware County Watershed Affairs. Tony moved to approve, 2nd by Linda Burkhardt. Passed.
Carl discussed with the board that a meeting will soon be scheduled between the Officers of the CWT and CWC to address communication issues and will keep the remainder of the board informed. Carl expressed his concern that it is just the officers, because of the new faces on the CWT board are not necessarily familiar with the history and issues of concern. After discussion non officer CWT executive committee members reassured Carl that they understood it was just for the officers of both and that they support him moving forward to improve the relationships.
a. Pete Bracci proposed that he believes the CWT has more influence than it sometimes thinks citing past experiences with the City, in moving things forward such as boating on the reservoirs. Given this historical experience he encouraged the CWT to try to find a way to capture the electricity from the Cannonsville Hydro-electric project, indicating it would give a large benefit to local residents. Ric Coombe offered that a large benefit would be the contribution to the tax base. It was stated that, Tom Axtell of Deposit believes that will likely be Deposit’s largest benefit. Counsel suggested that making large inroads at this time may be difficult as his understanding was that the FERC has approved building the facility. (Side bar – DEP has already established the construction schedule). Nevertheless, whether or not the hydro-electric project can be modified or not, Pete firmly believes that the CWT has more influence than perhaps it thinks. Pete suggested that the CWT should look ahead more in terms of what projects or ideas can be capitalized on. Pete proposed in discussions with watershed parties to refer to the reservoirs as lakes and how they can be used more similarly to Skaneateles Lake that feeds the City of Syracuse. Lots of agreement, no action taken.
b. Carl reported that there is an effort underway to reinvigorate the TAG. There is a meeting scheduled for 10/31, 10 to Noon at the Middletown Town Hall. Kevin Young will present some ideas for the TAG to comment on related to the Flood Buyout and Relocation programs.
9. Adjourn: 8:30pm: Motion by Linda to adjourn, 2nd by Tony. Passed. No nays!
Thank you for the update. What is TAG?
TAG is an acronym for Technical Advisory Group. It was formed in the early years of CWT and composed of individuals with technical expertise in a variety of areas. They were able to provide relevant information to Watershed decision-makers to make more informed and intelligent decisions. It had been inactive for many years but was reconvened Oct 31, 2014 by Delaware County Watershed Affairs.