Present: Ric Coombe, David Kukle, Bud Gladstone, David Edinger, Bill Federice, Edward Snow, Greg Vurckio, Steve Walker, Winifred Zubin, Scott Grey, Greg Kroyer, Bennett Ratcliff, Christina Viafore
Others: Jeff Baker, Tim Cox, Jason Merwin, Nick Carbone, Bruce Dolph, Thomas Hoyt, Michelle Yost, Heidi Emrich, Lillian Brown, Cher Woehl
1. Call to Order: Ric Coombe called the meeting to order at 6:46 pm.
2. Ric welcomed everyone and asked Jeff to share the results of our recent elections. Jeff introduced himself to the new members (the counsel for CWT) and shared the following:
From Delaware County – Regular members are Wayland (Bud) Gladstone, Edward Snow (new), and Winifred Zubin (new). Alternate members are Shayne Moshier, Will Outsen (new) and Christina Viafore (new).
From Greene County – Regular members are David Kukle and Steve Walker. Alternate members are Greg Cross (new) and Greg Kroyer (new).
From Schoharie County – Regular member is Bill Federice. Alternate member is Lester Parker.
From Sullivan County – Regular member is Ric Coombe. Alternate member is Scott Grey.
From Ulster County – Regular members are David Edinger (new) and Greg Vurckio. Alternative members are Drew Boggess and Bennett Ratcliff (new).
Ric congratulated our new members and encouraged everyone to participate as CWT moves forward with the focus on the future of the watersheds. 3. March 21, 2022, Meeting Minutes Approval: Motion to approve the minutes made by Steve Walker and seconded by Bud Gladstone. Motion carried.
4. Election of CWT Officers: Ric opened the vote for the new CWT officers by first sharing who the current officers are: Ric Coombe-Chairman, David Kukle-Vice Chairman and Bud Gladstone-Treasurer. Ric asked for a motion to elect new officers, either by individual positions or by keeping the current slate of officers. Steve Walker made the motion to retain the current slate of officers. Bill Federice seconded the motion. Ric called for the members roll call vote as follows:
CWT Member Wayland (Bud) Gladstone voting Yes
CWT Member Edward H. Snow voting Yes
CWT Member Winifred Zubin abstain
CWT Member David Kukle voting Yes
CWT Member Steve Walker voting Yes
CWT Member William Federice voting Yes
CWT Member Ric Coombe voting Yes
CWT Member David Edinger voting Yes
CWT Greg Vurckio voting Yes
Motion to retain the current officers was carried with eight (8) yes votes and one abstain.
5. Reports: a. FAD Deliverables:
Jeff provided the history and background on the septage issue CWC with support from CWT are currently working to resolve. The issue lies with the amount of septage NYC is willing to accept from the watersheds. Jeff provided an in-depth explanation of the watershed agreements with DEP that were put in place in 1997 and then revised in 2016. Jeff then turned the discussion over to Ric and Jason (Merwin) to share the results of the meeting they had with DEP Deputy Commissioner Paul Rush on Monday, April 18th, 2022, at the DEP office in Arkville.
Both Ric and Jason felt the meeting was very productive and positive, sharing that Deputy Commissioner Rush understood the concerns brought forward by CWC and acknowledged the oversight that occurred when DEP reviewed the watershed agreements and septage amounts. Deputy Commissioner Rush said that they are capacity constrained and need to look at options for sludge removal from their plants. He also shared that they would return to historical amounts allowed as they continue to work with CWC and CWT on short-term and long-term solutions to this problem. DEP emphasized their commitment to working towards mutual solutions and would be providing CWC a letter summarizing the meeting and short-term solution.
Regarding the Delaware County Draft Resolution on the Septage Issue that was shared with members, Ric explained that while CWT supports the resolution, official response will be held in abeyance until the letter from DEP is received. In the event the DEP letter is unsatisfactory to CWT, then authorization will be provided to Jeff, with consultation from Ric, to move forward with an official complaint consistent with the Delaware County Resolution to the Partnership Council. David Kukle made the motion to provide Jeff this authorization, Greg Vurckio seconded the motion. Motion was carried.
Jason shared that CWC will also move forward with a resolution to the Partnership Council in the event the DEP letter is not satisfactory.
Once the DEP letter is received it will be shared with members and determination will be made if resolutions to the Partnership Council will be required.
Ric closed this discussion thanking Jason, Tim (Cox) and Delaware County for reaching out to CWT for support and for assisting to lead this effort.
b. Streamside Acquisition:
Jeff reported that the Land Acquisition Program is currently up for renewal and that SAP is currently being reviewed for extension. One focus is on how to address the many issues communities have with SAP. Jeff shared that discussions with NYC occurred in the previous week and were very positive and encouraging. Discussions will continue to move forward with small groups at first, then expanded to include others, with the goal to present a collective view to the State that has buy-in from the watershed communities.
Jeff also reported that discussions are continuing on the conservation easements and provided an explanation on what conservation easements are and what changes they are attempting to make.
Michelle shared that NYC is looking for a project that could demonstrate how land swapping could work and be successful.
c. Flood Commission Reports – nothing to report—Ric explained to new members what this entailed.
d. CWC Report – Jason reported the following:
The CWC Annual Meeting had their annual meeting and reelected new board members.
CWC is still working on negotiating the contracts reported on in previous meetings.
e. Below the Reservoirs – nothing to report
6. Warrants and Treasurer’s Report: Bud reported that as of March 31, 2022, the checking account has $1,501.99 and the savings account has $139,951.85. Greg Vurckio made motion to accept the Treasurer’s report, seconded by David Edinger. Report accepted. Bud presented warrant #92 in the amount of $1,745.17 for payment of March legal fees of $573.50 and January – March administrative fees of $1,171.67. Edward Snow made a motion to pay warrant #92, seconded by David Edinger. Motion carried.
7. Adjourn: Motion to adjourn was made by Greg Vurckio, seconded by Bill Federice. Motion carried. Meeting adjourned at 7:41 pm.
Present: Ric Coombe, Greg Vurckio, Bud Gladstone, Bill Federice, David Kuckle, Steve Walker,
Others: Jeff Baker, Tim Cox, Bruce Dolph, Nick Carbone, Jason Merwin, Thomas Holt, Michelle Yost, Cher Woehl
1. Call to Order: Ric Coombe called the meeting to order at 6:19 pm.
2. February 21, 2022, Meeting Minutes Approval: Motion to approve minutes made by Greg Vurckio, seconded by Steve Walker. Motion carried.
3. Elections: Jeff provided an update on the elections, sharing that he has received majority of election ballots. He anticipates receiving the remainder by the due date. Ric commented CWT will be able to reorganize and appoint any new executive committee positions at the April meeting.
4. Catskill Center Correspondence re: NYC Watershed Land Acquisition Program: Ric opened the discussion on the letter sent from the Catskill Center to Dr. Mary Basset, Commissioner NYS Department of Health regarding the NYC Watershed Land Acquisition Program. Ric’s primary message was that CWT needs to present a unified front , working together, in addressing these challenges. He shared that it is critical that CWT is part of the process, although he voiced the concern that there doesn’t appear to be a process in place. He asked members if they (1) were comfortable with the process that is currently occurring; (2) do they feel there is enough meetings with all stakeholders involved in discussing the challenges; and (3) do they feel they are part of the current process? With those questions posed to the members, Ric opened the floor for discussion.
Members provided the following comments and concerns:
Jeff felt that there needs to be more clarity and openness in the process. He also agreed that there needs to be a push for more stakeholder meetings, including meetings to define/share what the process is going to be. Jeff thought the letter in general was a good one, with nothing included that could be deemed too offensive or negative.
David spoke to the stakeholders meeting, stating that he understood it is a meeting where everyone is around the table discussing various issues and items. He asked Jeff when the last time a stakeholder meeting like this was held. Jeff indicated that there has not been an “in-person” stakeholder meeting for some time however there was a ZOOM meeting last fall. In- person meetings became restrictive due to the COVID requirements. Ric shared that in the last stakeholder meetings, discussions did not get into the detail levels that they need to be.
Thomas had some concerns with the letter. He felt the Catskill Center was not acting as a stakeholder but as an “arm of DEP”, forcing landowners to sell without regard to market values. He gave some scenarios which could allow for bending of rules thus enabling DEP to obtain the land they want without allowing for easements on the properties. Thomas’ main concern was that this letter portrays the Catskill Center as an agent for DEP. Jeff responded to Thomas’ concerns clarifying that Catskill Center is not really acting as an agent for DEP. They are a full stakeholder and participate in discussions as such. They are an agent to DEP on SAP, but Jeff felt this did not impact their position on this overall issue. Jeff further stated that Catskill Center does want a successful SAP which they believe is better than the Land Acquisition Program. Jeff reiterated that Catskill Center has an independent voice on the watershed and is a reliable partner. Jeff informed Thomas that the SAP acquisition issues he raised are currently being addressed.
Thomas asked how we can allow SAP to go forward with these issues still not addressed, stating that they can’t even be resolved at the county level (using Scholarie as the example). Jeff assured Thomas that before SAP is expanded we will want to address and resolve the easement/utilities issues.
David shared that there is support for the Delaware proposal as it addresses the easement/utilities issues. Nick commented that this is one of the major concerns Delaware has and wants to resolve. He also shared that a Delaware want towns to have the choice of opting in or out of the program. This is a major concern that Delaware is trying to address.
Michelle asked Jeff if discussions have occurred on the conservation easement issues. Jeff replied that discussions are in process, and they are attempting to clarify language. Thomas indicated that as the Supervisor for the Town of Windham he would assume he would be asked to be involved in these discussions. He has not been asked to participate and questioned who participates in the discussions. Jeff reiterated that he is involved currently working on the language and will share with members when completed.
Michelle commented that there is a need to define the critical areas of the program. Jeff concurred affirming that parameters for SAP need to be defined including providing better definitions of the guidelines and rules of the program. This information is critical when working with the towns on opting into the program.
Bruce voiced a concern regarding towns being asked to change their zoning regulations. He questioned if a town refuses to modify their zoning regulations, then their only option is to sell sub-divided small parcels, and this is not a good road to go down. Jeff clarified that the purpose of the sub-division language is to allow the City to buy land along the streams, thereby ‘creating’ a lot on land that cannot be used for anything else. Allowing this to happen provides for easements and allows for access to the buffers. Jeff also reiterated that this language is a tool and not mandatory for development. Bruce asked if we allow for changes in the zoning regulations for the City then shouldn’t others be allowed to do the same thing? Jeff said no. However, if a town wanted to open this option up for other conservation type organizations they could. Jeff explained that there is legal authority for the City that allows them to obtain land to protect their water supply, and this would fall within that authority. Ric commented that this is yet another example as to why CWT needs to be involved in the process.
A question regarding large land acquisitions was raised, and Jeff explained that it would be unrealistic for towns to think that we will go into next phase with zero land acquisitions, especially if we move forward with a SAP-like program.
Bud conveyed that he is not comfortable with SAP. He indicated that if any streamside land is going to be purchased, there needs to be a structure and agreement in place that stipulates there must be a swap with land that is not at streamside. He felt that with every parcel purchase in the township there needs to be a release of something else/other land. Ric replied that per the National Academy of Sciences, trading is crucial. It makes more sense to swap lands. Ric again stated that we need to provide the city examples of land swaps so that they have a better understanding of this concept and how it works.
In response to Bruce’s comment that land swaps are not going to happen unless we get out of easements, Ric again said that CWT needs to come forward with reasonable examples, not just concepts. These examples need to be shared with all individuals/organizations that have an interest so that they can begin understanding the issues and help to move the issue resolution process forward. These examples need to demonstrate why and how we get out of easements.
In closing, Ric assured everyone that CWT does have a place at the Stakeholder meeting table. The problem is that there are not enough meetings. He said we need to get the message to the stakeholders that CWT expects more, wants more and will be more involved in these meetings.
Ric asked Jeff to draft a letter to DEC, DOH and DEP sharing our concerns about the process going forward and would like to see more meetings to further discussions.
5. Reports: a. FAD Deliverables – nothing to report b. Streamside Acquisition – nothing additional to report c. Flood Commissions Reports – nothing to report d. CWC Report – Jason reported on the following:
CWC is still trying to work with the city for short-term and long-term solutions for the septic hauling issue. The amount of septic hauling allowed is being reduced drastically from 70,000-26,000 gallons a week. Currently, the city is taking in approximately 40,000 gallons a week, which is a little over half of the allowable amount. Jason said they are working on the short-term solution, hoping that CWT can assist with developing a long-term solution. Jeff asked Jason to provide CWT with what they want, what CWT can do to help. Ric asked for a motion to authorize Jeff to get involved in on behalf of CWT. Steve Walker made the motion, Bud Federice seconded.Motion was carried.
The CWC annual board meeting is scheduled for April 5 and shared there are three (3) board seats up for election.
6. Warrant(s) and Treasurer’s Report: Bud reported that as of February 28, 2022 , the checking account has $3,918.55 and the savings account has $139,928.08. Motion was made by David Kuckle to accept the Treasurer’s report, seconded by Bill Federice.Report accepted. Bud presented warrant #91 in the amount of $407.00 for payment of February legal fees. Greg Vurckio made a motion to pay this warrant, seconded by Steve Walker. Motion carried.
7. Adjourn: Meeting was adjourned by Ric Coombe at 7:22 pm.
Present: Ric Coombe, Greg Vurckio, Bud Gladstone, Bill Federice, Larry Reilly, Scott Grey, Steve Walker,
Others: Jeff Baker, Tim Cox, Bruce Dolph, Nick Carbone, Jason Merwin, Cher Woehl
1. Call to Order: Ric Coombe called the meeting to order at 6:16 pm.
2. January 17, 2022, Meeting Minutes Approval: Motion to approve minutes made by Bud Gladstone, seconded by Greg Vurckio. Motion carried.
3. Ric provided an update on membership dues, sharing that we received 2021 dues from Greene County, Town of Middletown, and the Village of Hunter. Halcott is the only outstanding membership dues for 2021.
4.Elections: Jeff provided an update on the elections. Jeff shared that nominations were received from Sullivan (Neversink) and Scholarie counties so far. Deadline for submitting nominations was Friday, February 18, 2022. Several members indicated their towns/villages and other towns/villages in their county had not received their nomination forms. Cher indicated all nomination forms were mailed on January 31, 2022. Discussion occurred on emailing the nomination forms to the county towns/villages that had not received them and to extend the deadline for submitting nominations by 10 days. Bill Federice made a motion to extend the deadline for submitting nominations by 10 days, Steve Walker seconded the motion. Motion was carried. All agreed that the election forms would be resent via email with a March 2, 2022, deadline for submitting nominations. Jeff will draft the letter for Cher to include in the email submission.
5. Delaware County Alternative to Streamside Acquisition Program (SAP): The alternative proposal to the Streamside Acquisition Program (SAP) in Delaware County, as provided by Nick at the January 17, 2022, meeting, was discussed by the members. In summary, Delaware County is proposing to adopt a program similar to the CREP/CSBI model, which provides for the property owners to retain ownership of their land. The proposal also looks to expand the program to include owners of existing forested buffers which are currently not included in CSBI/CREP as they are not considered to be active agricultural lands. The program would include financial incentives in the form of rental agreements. An in-depth dialogue amongst the members on the proposal transpired, addressing its benefits and areas that need to be further developed. Input from members and guests included:
Bud had positive comments on CREP, stating that he felt it was a good, solid program which serves the purpose of keeping the land in private ownership. He felt this was a less complicated process than SAP. Bud also voiced concerns regarding his position of chair on the Watershed Council and would he need to abstain from any discussions or votes on this matter. Per Jeff, there are no ethics issues at this point as this is still a conceptual proposal being discussed by CWT. Therefore, Bud can participate in any discussion.
Nick pointed out that CREP is for agricultural land only, and the Delaware County proposal will allow for non-farming land to enter the program. Nick also shared that with this proposal Towns will have input on whether they will participate in the program, however if SAP is expanded the Towns will have no say on participation.
Jeff commented on the concept of annual payments under this proposal, stating that it was economically better.
He agrees with the overall goal of the proposal and felt CWT should continue to go forward with further discussions.
Ric commented that the concept of renting the land is better than the current SAP and would be a benefit to the participating communities. Ric also pointed out that administration of this proposal could be challenging, specifically if it allows for minimal acreage to be leased.
Bruce felt that this proposal, which is a CREP like program, would be a benefit as it would increase the water quality by allowing the forested buffers to participate.
Steve commented that the proposal allowed for the ability to maintain and improve the infrastructure by expanding the amount of included land.
Members agreed that while this may not be the total solution to the SAP issues, it is a better alternative to SAP. Ric stated that CWT supports the Delaware County proposal, as it does address the “holes” in the current acquisition program. He emphasized the CWT needs to be consistent in its message and recommended that issues continued to be addressed as CWT moves forward on this matter.
a. FAD Deliverables – nothing to report
b. Streamside Acquisition – nothing to report, in addition to the discussion
c. Flood Commissions Reports – nothing to report
d. CWC Report – Jason reported on the following:
CWC and NYC reached agreement on the septic program and $7.5 million has been received for the program.
An issue currently faced by Septic Program is the need for engineers to design the systems. There is a staffing issue within the watershed. He asked members to share within their towns to help find qualified candidates.
There may be an issue surfacing regarding NYC and its obligations with the septic program. NYC is looking to drastically reduce the amount of septic they will accept from 70,000 gallons a week to 26,000 gallons a week. Jeff asked that Jason prepare a letter reminding NYC of their requirement to assist the septic program on this. If they reduce the amounts accepted, there will be a significant impact to the program funding available for upgrading and maintaining the septic systems as this would require utilizing sources outside of the watershed for this function. Jeff suggested that Ric bring this issue up at the principals meeting.
There could be a gap in the Flood Hazard Program funding (like what occurred in the septic program) as to date there is not an agreement in place for renewing this program.
Bids have been received for the Halcottsville Project. Bids are being advertised for the New Kingston Project.
7. Ric addressed the changes in the administration, once again raising the question of whether CWT wants to be part of the changes, providing education on the watershed programs and issues, or does CWT want to be in the background as change happens. Members agreed that CWT needs to be part of the process and should look to schedule a meeting with the appropriate attendees to begin the communications and education on the watershed and CWT. Considering the issues raised by Jason, the members suggested the new Commissioner be invited here sooner than later so that the education process can begin before significant impacts to the programs in the watershed occur.
8. Warrant(s) and Treasurer’s Report: Bud reported that as of January 31, 2022 , the checking account has $2,318.35 and the savings account has $137,006.60. Motion was made by Larry Reilly to accept the Treasurer’s report, seconded by Steve Walker.Report accepted. Bud presented warrant #90 in the amount of $2,916.70 for payment of legal fees from August 2021 thru January 2022. Steve Walker made a motion to pay this warrant, seconded by Greg Vurckio. Motion carried.
9. Other: Ric asked Tim Cox and Jason Merwin if our March meeting can be held at CWC headquarters. Tim and Jason had no issues and agreed to have the CWT meetings at the Margaretville Arkville office.
10. Adjourn: Meeting was adjourned by Ric Coombe at 7:07 pm.
Present: Ric Coombe, Greg Vurckio, Bud Gladstone, Bill Federice, Larry Reilly, Scott Grey, Steve Walker,
Others: Jeff Baker, Tim Cox, Bruce Dolph, Nick Carbone, Jason Merwin, Cher Woehl
1.Call to Order: Ric Coombe called the meeting to order at 6:17 pm.
2.October 18, 2021, Meeting Minutes Approval: Motion to approve minutes made by Greg Vurckio, seconded by Bill Federice. Motion carried.
3.Membership Dues: Cher provided update on 2021 membership dues still outstanding for Town of Middletown ($1500), Green Co. ($2250), Town of Halcott ($750) and Village of Hunter ($750). She also reported that payment of Wawarsing was received last week in the amount of $1500 and that Town of Stamford paid $1000 of their $1500 balance due.
Ric said that as we move forward we need to provide the membership dues letter earlier in the year, with CWT sending reminders as required through out the year. He emphasized that CWT needs to communicate its value and continue to pursue participation of all the counties, towns and villages. Ric, Jeff and Cher will work on the 2022 Membership Letter with the goal of releasing it in March.
4. Elections: Now that Towns have had their 2021 elections, CWT elections need to occur. Letters need to be sent to the municipalities by week of January 24th. Jeff reiterated the “process and time-frames” as follows and indicated that he will work with Ric and Cher on this:
1st round of letters asks for candidate nominations and is due in 30 days
2nd round is the voting ballots which must be returned within 30 days
3rd round is the announcement of new CWT board members which should occur in April.
5.Delaware County Land Acquisition Resolution: Nick provided a summary of the proposed resolution, explaining its purpose and providing background on Delaware County actions that this resolution supports. Nick further explained that the Delaware County proposal has been submitted and adopted by every town and majority of the villages in Delaware. It has also been adopted in Schoharie, Ulster and Green Counties. Steve Walker made a motion to introduce the resolution, seconded by Bud Gladstone. Ric opened the discussion of the resolution by members. A lengthy discussion occurred with points made by several members including the following:
Bud stated that while SAP will control minimum amount of property, it would have major impact to owners who own the land, which could be a silent way of acquiring a little land with control of all the land.
Jeff responded to Bud’s concern by stating that if SAP was properly designed it would address the issue Bud raised and not create land-locks or buffers. Jeff also said that CWT needs to exercise it ability top get a better design of SAP to make it work as originally intended.
Steve had a concern that this would result in one’s inability to repair an infrastructure without going through several ‘hoops’.
After additional discussion on these concerns occurred Ric called for the members roll call vote as follows:
CWT Chair Ric Coombe voting AYE
CWT Board Member Wayland (Bud) Gladstone voting AYE
CWT Board Member Greg Vurckio voting AYE
CWT Board Member William Federice voting AYE
CWT Alternate Member Larry Reilly voting AYE
CWT Alternate Member Steve Walker voting AYE
The resolution was thereupon declared duly adopted as CWT RESOLUTION NO 1 OF 2022, dated January 17, 2022.
After the vote of the resolution it was an opportune time for Nick to brief everyone on the Alternative to SAP in Delaware County proposal. This proposal mirrors the Federal Conservation Reserve Enhanced Program (CREP) and is a natural progression to expand a program that is already in place, allowing landowners to be included in the program while allowing them to keep their land. As this proposal was provided to board members the day of the board meeting, Ric asked that it be deferred to the February meeting. This will enable members to thoroughly review the information and be better prepared to discuss. Members agreed with the deferral. Ric requested that Nick develop examples and models for the February discussion. Ric also suggested that it may be beneficial if Delaware County was able to provide the NYC DEP a real land swap proposal, to help facilitate the discussion with NYC DEP, and other stakeholders going forward.
a. FAD Deliverables – nothing to report
b. Streamside Acquisition – nothing to report, in addition to the discussion
c. Flood Commissions Reports – nothing to report
d. CWC Report – Jason reported that there has been a very positive outcome on the septic program meetings with NYC. Discussions and negotiations have reached an agreement that is acceptable to NYC and CWC which will allow for the septic program to operate at full capacity. Jason reported that these were constructive negotiations which resulted in mutually agreeable solutions and positive outcomes. Jason also reported that CWC is in their election process and anticipates new board members by April 2022.
e. Below the Reservoirs – Ric shared his recent experience with observing the replacement of the valves at the reservoir. He indicated it was extremely fascinating and that this system is incredible.
7. Warrant(s) and Treasurer’s Report: Bud reported that as of December 31, 2021, the checking account has $2,825.15 and the savings account has $133,233.53. Motion was made by Steve Walker to accept the Treasurer’s report, seconded by Bill Federice. Report accepted. Ric and Cher explained the warrant for payment to the Town of Neversink for administrative support from September 2021 thru December 2021. The total amount to be paid is $1,507.10, of which $1,400.00 is total gross wage (based on $350 per month) and $107.10 is for the employer share of Social Security and Medicare. The “warrant” was provided in a letter from the Town of Neversink. Ric asked members if they would accept the letter this time, with the caveat that in the future CWT will receive an Invoice for Payment and the warrant as in normal procedure. All agreed the letter was acceptable as the invoice. Greg Vurckio moved to pay the warrant of $1,507.10 for administrative support. Steve Walker seconded the motion. Motion carried.
8.Other: Ric suggested considering the season and temperamental weather that our February meeting be a ZOOM meeting. All agreed.
9.Adjourn: Motion to adjourn made by Greg Vurckio, seconded by Bill Federice. Motion carried and meeting was adjourned at 7:09 pm.
THE COALITION OF WATERSHED TOWNS RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF THE LAND ACQUISITION REDUCTION RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE 2020 AUGUST NATIONAL ACADEMIES (“NAS”) EXPERT PANEL REPORT
WHEREAS, in August, 2020, the National Academies (“NAS”) Expert Panel published its report entitled, Review of the New York City Watershed Protection Program, which recommended that expenditures in the land acquisition program be reduced to fund other programs that will lead to more direct improvements to water quality. NAS Report, p.385. NAS recommended that the City be provided flexibility to implement an optimal variety of programs that would focus watershed management actions on the most valuable lands for water quality protection and that it shift funding and emphasis from acquiring large parcels in the fee-simple and conservation easement programs to the protection of riparian lands on critical areas of tributary streams through programs that provide an opportunity to simultaneously address community needs and watershed protection. Programs which provide a “financial mechanism” to promote community well-being and economic vitality in the watershed while promoting the protection of high potential water quality impact areas were specifically encouraged. See NAS Report p. 215-216 [discussing the NYC Flood Buyout Program]
WHEREAS, the fundamental principle of the 1997 New York City Watershed Memorandum of Agreement (the “MOA Watershed Objective”) is the following: “[T]he parties recognize that the goals of drinking water protection and economic vitality within the watershed communities are not inconsistent and it is the intention of the parties to enter into a new era of partnership to cooperate in the development and implementation of a watershed protection program that maintains and enhances the quality of New York City drinking water supply and the economic vitality and social character of the watershed communities”; and
WHEREAS, the 1997 New York City Watershed Memorandum of Agreement (“MOA”) also defined the MOA Land Acquisition Objectives as follows: “the parties agree that the City’s Land Acquisition Program, the City’s watershed regulations, and the other programs and conditions contained in this agreement, when implemented in conjunction with one another, would allow existing development to continue and future growth to occur in a manner that is consistent with the existing community character and planning goals of each of the watershed communities; and that the City’s land acquisition goals ensure that the availability of developable land in the watershed will remain sufficient to accommodate projected growth without anticipated adverse effect on water quality and without substantially changing future population patterns in the watershed communities” (hereinafter “Land Acquisition Objectives”); and
WHEREAS, the City’s Land Acquisition Program is premised on the principal that surface runoff from impervious surfaces and concentrated human activity poses a contamination threat to the City’s water supply. In developing the City Land Acquisition Program, the parties were concerned that the vast amount of open space within the West of Hudson Watershed created the potential for new significant adverse development in an unfiltered watershed. The City’s Land Acquisition Program was a tool to prevent and control such development; and
WHEREAS, in 1997 when the parties executed the MOA, a small percentage of the watershed lands were under New York City control. Twenty years later, according to the October 12, 2017 Catskill Watershed Corporation Developable Land Analysis Report (“CWC 2017 Report”), a significant majority of the watershed land are protected from development. Table 1 from the CWC 2017 Report provides as follows:
WHEREAS, in 1997 when the parties executed the MOA, approximately 11% of the watershed lands within Delaware County were under New York City and/or New York State control. Twenty-three years later, according to the December 2020 Land Acquisition Report, 28.4 % of the watershed lands within Delaware County are under New York City and/or New York State control and such control is closing in on the 30% benchmark (as suggested in the 2012- 2022 Long-Term Land Acquisition Plan) when memorandum of contract properties are included; and
WHEREAS, on October 31, 2017 Delaware County issued the following report: New York Land Acquisition Town Level Assessment 2017: Delaware County Evaluation and Response (“Delaware County 2017 Report”), which found a substantial number of Delaware County towns had an insufficient amount of remaining developable land to “allow existing development to continue and future growth to occur in a manner that is consistent with the existing community character and planning goals” of those communities. The report concluded the “City’s land acquisition goals for those communities did not ensure… the availability of developable land… will remain sufficient to accommodate projected growth” and thus the continuation of City’s land acquisition could “substantially changing future population patterns…”; and
WHEREAS, the 2017 City of New York Filtration Avoidance Determination (“FAD”) requires that an application for new Water Supply Permit to succeed the 2010 WSP be filed by June 2022. The City of New York must also develop a new Long-Term Land Acquisition Plan, which will cover the period 2023-2033 and consider the findings and recommendations of the National Academies (“NAS”) Expert Panel review; and
WHEREAS, with the assistance of the Coalition of Watershed Towns and CWC, Delaware County has developed an Alternative Land Acquisition Program Option (the “Alternative Option”) that provides an opportunity for impacted communities to provide robust/enhanced protection of environmentally sensitive lands in a manner that does not rely on one-time payments for fee title acquisitions of large parcels or conservation easements that burden land in perpetuity. The Alternative Option focuses on environmentally sensitive lands (such as riparian or stream buffers) which directly contribute to water quality and provides for a fixed-term annual rental payment to the landowner; a model that has proven to be effective in Delaware County; and
WHEREAS, the Alternative Option would allow landowners to retain ownership of their property while receiving periodic payments that reflect the water quality protection value their property provides. The Alternative Option provides a financial mechanism to promote community well-being and economic vitality while promoting water quality, thereby achieving the balance of interests required by the MOA and recommended in the NAS Report. The County envisions an impacted municipality would make a determination and a commitment to participate in the Alternative Option program as a way to provide enhanced protection of sensitive lands in lieu and as a substitute for the continuation of the traditional DEP Land Acquisition Program. The municipal commitment would be for a period of years (e.g., 10 years) during which time, Land Acquisition Program would be suspended within that community; and
WHEREAS, DEC recently announced it will make a determination to expand the Stream Corridor Acquisition Program (“SAP”) beyond the Schoharie Basin to the entire watershed, that this determination is not subject to review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) and does not require due process or a modification to the 2010 Water Supply Permit. According to DEC, homeowners will have the ability to request that SAP acquisitions of individual parcels in excluded hamlet areas and hamlet expansion areas be approved on a case-by-case basis by making direct appeals to the Town/Village Board. This may include both vacant lots and improved lots, both of which are eligible for SAP acquisition under the 2010 Water Supply Permit (although DEC states that the purchase of improved lots is not intended); and
WHEREAS, the County maintains the potential impacts that could result from the continuation and potential expansion of SAP must be reviewed under SEQRA. There has been a significant change in circumstances since the SAP program was first envisioned and implemented under the 2010 Water Supply Permit. This change in circumstances requires the preparation of a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in order to identify and take a “hard look” at the impact this expansion of the land acquisition program would have on the environment and the sustainability of our community; and
WHEREAS, fee acquisitions under SAP are subject to Section 82 of the MOA which requires the City to grant to NYSDEC a conservation easement to ensure that such land is “held in perpetuity in an undeveloped state in order to protect the watershed and New York City’s drinking water supply.” The Conservation Easement required by DEC under Section 82 of the MOA prohibits in perpetuity the following activities on the acquired property:
“construction of any new … structures normally requiring a building code permit”;
“storage of petroleum …, hazardous materials”
“excavating, extraction, grading, or removal of soil, sand and gravel”
“use of snowmobiles, dune buggies, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles or other motorized vehicles recreation purposes”
“the expansion of any existing or construction of any new paved driveways, roads, and parking lots”
“the commercial, residential or industrial use”
“except in accordance with Article 49 of the ECL, the siting or routing of any facilities required for … the transmission, or distribution of gas, electricity, water, telephone, or cable television services on, over or under the Protected Property”
“the commercial, residential or industrial use of the Protected Property(ies) in such a manner that: (i) causes the introduction of sediments, … or other pollutants to any watercourse or wetland on the Protected Property(ies) that may adversely effect the quality of such watercourse or wetland; (ii) interferes with or disturbs open space, vegetated areas or steep slopes on the Protected Property(ies); or (iii) is otherwise inconsistent with the purposes of this Easement.”
WHEREAS, the CWT requests that the DEC, the Catskill Center and DEP identify and evaluate the potential adverse impacts on municipal and private functions if the City encumbers large sections of stream buffer/ corridors with restrictive conservation easements in perpetuity. Specific areas of concern include impacts on the following:
Installation and upgrade of electrical, water, gas, telephone, broadband/cable lines as needed to provide basic utilities
Maintenance, upgrade, expansion, widening, safety improvements to existing roads and extension of existing roads.
Installation, expansion, and replacement of communication towers (including the necessary utilities)
The siting, maintenance, and expansion of stream crossings
Flood mitigation projects
Renewable Energy Projects
WHEREAS, on October 27, 2021, the Delaware County Board of Supervisor passed Resolution No. 162 entitled: DELAWARE COUNTY REQUESTS THAT A MORATORIUM ON NEW PURCHASE CONTRACTS FOR FEE TITLE AND DEP CONSERVATION EASEMENTS, BE IMPLIMENTED IN DELAWARE COUNTY PENDING A COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF THE LAND ACQUISTION PROGRAM TO IDENTIFY THE NEED FOR THE CONTINUATION OF LAND ACQUISTION, THE BENEFITS OF LAND ACQUISTION, THE IMPACT OF LAND ACQUISTION ON COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY AND THE OTHER TOOLS AVAILABLE TO ACHIEVE MOA LAND ACQUISTION OBJECTIVES. That resolution identifies and describes the “Change in Circumstances” since the SAP was first envisioned in the 2007 FAD. The CWT supports Delaware County Resolution No. 162.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED the CWT joins in the Delaware County Board of Supervisors petition to DEC, DOH and DEP requesting the following relief:
The FAD requires application for a WSP to succeed the 2010 WSP is required by June 2022 and that the City develop a new LongTerm Land Acquisition Plan, which will cover the period 2023-2033 and which will consider the findings of the National Academies Expert Panel review. Given the uncertainties created by the change in circumstances, effective January 1, 2022 and extending through completion of the permitting process, the City refrain from entering into new contracts to purchase fee title and/or conservation easements under the Land Acquisition Program within the West of Hudson Watershed unless approved by an individual town or village.
In developing the Long-term Land Acquisition Plan for the period 2023-2033 and the WSP renewal application due June, 2022, that DEP limit its land and conservation easement acquisition within the County to WAC Conservation Easements, flood mitigation projects, stream protection/management, the Delaware County Alternative Pilot Land Acquisition Proposal and a voluntary municipally approved SAP Program.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution be sent to New York Governor Kathy Hochul, US Congressman Antonio Delgado, NYS Senator Mike Martucci, NYS Assemblymen Brian D. Miller, NYS Assemblymen Chris Tague, NYS Assemblymen Joe Angelino, EPA Region 2 Administrator Lisa Garcia, NYSDEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, NYCDEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza and NYSDOH Commissioner Mary Bassett
WHEREUPON, the Resolution was put to a vote on January 17, 2022 and recorded as follows:
Aye Nay Absent
Chairman Ric Coombe X ____ ______
Board Member Wayland (Bud) Gladstone X ____ ______
Present: Ric Coombe, Greg Vurckio, Bill Federice, Peter Friedel, Tom Hilson, Scott Gray,
Others: Jeff Baker, Tim Cox, Jason Merwin, Nick Carbone, Bruce Dolph, Cher Woehl Call To Order: Ric Coombe called the meeting to order at 6:20 p.m.
1.Call To Order: Ric Coombe called the meeting to order at 6:20 p.m.
2. Minutes Approval: Motion to approve the August 16, 2021, minutes was made by Greg Vurckio and seconded by Peter Freidel. Motion carried.
3.CWT Administrative Changes: Cher shared with everyone the contact information for CWT, noting that the information is located on the top of the meeting agenda. Cher also confirmed with Tim that all CWC information will be mailed to the new email address.
4.Elections: Ric stated that elections for CWT executive committee members needs to occur soon. Jeff offered that elections should be held off until after the municipality elections. Board members seemed to agree with this approach. However it was emphasized that board members also need to find interested candidates from their areas, especially Delaware which is currently underrepresented. Jeff reiterated the election process which is to (1) send notifications to the townships requesting nominations; (2) townships to provide their nominations to CWT; (3) ballots to be prepared based on nominations and mailed: and (4) each Town to vote for the number of candidates allowed for the township. Jeff will begin the process by notifying all board members. Ric set the goal to have the elections completed by the end of this year (2021).
5.September 10th Quarterly Meeting Update: Ric and Jason gave an update on the quarterly meeting, both agreeing that it was productive and a positive opportunity to move forward after the delays resulting from the COVID pandemic. With the upcoming change in NYC administration all agreed the need that educating the new administration about CWC, CWT and the various programs is very important. Ideas were discussed on ways to provide this education with all agreeing that CWC should be taking the lead on this effort. CWT will be there to help CWC if they request our assistance. Ric shared that in educating the new administration we don’t want to lose the history of the programs, but we also do not want to dwell on the past as it’s time to move forward.
All in all, those who attended the quarterly meeting acknowledged it was a good meeting overall, with both CWC and CWT asking for consistency. Ric shared that the plan is to have everyone meet again after the new year once the elections are completed and any new members to the administration are in office. He also suggested we need to plan to have the new administration here, in person, to show them what we do and the positive effects our programs have.
a. FAD deliverables: No report
b. Streamside Acquisition: DEP is looking to roll out the Schoharie Basin pilot program to other counties. Catskill Center is looking to move forward with the rollout using the land swap program options. DEC is asking that the rollout not occur until there is a full understanding of what this program is, how it will be rolled out and how it impacts communities. The program should not be imposed on towns, and they should be given the tools to help them with the rollout. Board members agreed that the pilot program should not be rolled out until more details such as the easement language are clarified. Ric said it is critical that CWC, CWT, etc. need to present as a unified front on these issues. While we may not all agree, the West of the Hudson Watershed organizations and programs must work together to address all situations. Jeff suggested meetings with Delaware County, Catskill Center and CWT to discuss further. Ric also suggested that he and Jason get the organizations together to open communications and to remind everyone that we are all looking for the same outcomes.
c. Flood Commission Reports: No report
d. CWC Report: Jason reported the septic program is still shut down to new applicants due to lack of funding.
e. Below the Reservoirs: No report
7.Warrant(s) and Treasurer Report: There is $2,824.44 in the checking account and $130,917.51 in the savings account. Motion to accept the Treasurers report was made by Peter Friedel and seconded by Bill Federice. Motion carried.
8.Other: Bill spoke to the turbid water issues due to the extreme rainfall which has caused the raging waters. He asked what can be done to help correct this. DEP has been asked in the past to lower the reservoir levels. When they comply it does help to mitigate this issue. However, DEP may not always comply with these requests. Ric suggested to have CWC and CWT further discuss water issues, like turbidity. It was also suggested that we look at the Delaware Basin model for reservoir releases. Jeff also recommended to Bill to review the Environment Impact Statement to determine if it contains any information on turbidity controls. It was agreed that we need to work closer on solutions for alleviating this issue.
Ric asked about the Letter of Agreement to the Philadelphia graduate student that has requested to review CWT records. Jeff will be looking through the records first before releasing the letter and allowing the student to review the records.
9.Adjourn: Motion to adjourn meeting was made by Greg Vurckio and seconded by Peter Friedel. Motion was carried and meeting adjourned at 7:33 pm.