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Spider Barbour Comments on Partition Street Project pgs. 2,3

Spider Barbour Comments on Partition Street Project pgs. 2,3

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Published by David Radovanovic
Spider Barbour, representing the Esopus Creek Conservancy, details the reasons why the Saugerties Village Planning Board needs to make a POSITIVE DECLARATION regarding the SEQRA of Partition Street Project
Spider Barbour, representing the Esopus Creek Conservancy, details the reasons why the Saugerties Village Planning Board needs to make a POSITIVE DECLARATION regarding the SEQRA of Partition Street Project

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Published by: David Radovanovic on Feb 09, 2010
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02/09/2010

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The choice the board will make, in leading the New York State EnvironmentalQuality Review (SEQR) for the project, is whether to issue a positive or a negativedeclaration. A positive declaration indicates that a project
may
have environmentalimpacts on the community. A negative declaration indicates that a project
will not 
haveenvironmental impacts on the community. A negative declaration also means no furtherinput from the public – which is defined as everyone except the government and thedeveloper – in the SEQR process. SEQR is by definition a
 public
process. The SEQR lawwas enacted to guarantee a full and open examination and discussion of the issues andimpacts of significant development projects.Why then is there a provision for a negative declaration? The reason is simple andtwofold. For small projects that clearly will have no significant impacts on the naturaland community environments, the lead agency in its wisdom and balanced considerationas an appointed agent of the populace, may decide that sufficient data has been presentedto demonstrate the absence of negative impacts. For large projects a negative declarationis acceptable only if studies relevant to significant impacts already exist, and that thesepotential impacts have been analyzed and eliminated in light of these studies.It is our conclusion that questions of potential impacts from the Partition StreetProject have not been addressed as required under SEQR. Existing data and studies havenot been collected, analyzed, and presented in full for public examination and discussion.The question of the need for additional studies has not been raised or answered. This lack of revealed, integrated and analyzed information requires the determination of a positivedeclaration under SEQR. The law declares that the public must be given ampleopportunity to question, examine and respond to the developer. A positive declarationallows the review process to continue for sufficient time for public participation.The opportunity to question and examine the developer’s claims and conclusionsis provided by a publicly available Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Thepublic responds with comments to which the project developer must respond in turn, andwhich become part of the public record. The public comments and the developer’sresponses are included in a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The publicprocess typically concludes when the lead agency accepts the FEIS as complete.This is the process that is required for any project of size and significance, andcertainly the Partition Street Project is one of these. Not only are there obvious questionsof impacts to the community – most of them positive we believe – but additionally andperhaps more importantly there is value for the project itself. People who live here knowand love their town. Saugerties residents have a great deal to offer the purveyors of thisproject and the Village officials overseeing the review of this project. Our ideas arevaluable and should be welcome. Public participation will ensure a more successful andenduring project for the community – and for the developer, the employees and theclientele of the businesses that come to occupy the site.Additionally, a negative declaration would deny the valuable input of regionalnon-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have been instrumental in shaping otherprojects. These include Hudson Rive Valley Greenway, Scenic Hudson, Hudson RiverWatershed Alliance, Hudson Valley Sustainable Communities Network, Lower EsopusWatershed Partnership, Transportation Alternatives and others. Participation of suchorganizations in the public review process has led invariably to better and moresuccessful projects along the Hudson Riverfront, in cities such as Hudson, Kingston,

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