Editor’s note: This a copy of a letter State Sen. James Skoufis sent to the South Blooming Planning Board.
Dear Members of the South Blooming Grove Planning Board:
I write to voice serious concerns regarding the proposed Clovewood project.
There are several dimensions of this project that give me significant pause, including deleterious impacts to the village’s operations as well as enormous environmental impacts.
First, the project presents multiple substantial issues relating to the administration of the village as it is currently manifested. The proposed project’s territory is almost entirely within the boundaries of the Village of South Blooming Grove which stands at 3,182 residents, according to documents submitted by the managing company.
Thus, the village’s population would increase by either 1,568-1,960 or 3,052-3,815 persons, representing an increase of between 49-62 percent or 96-120 percent, depending upon which of two developer-provided scenarios were to proceed.
Under either scenario, the single Clovewood project represents a population spike that, as a proportion to the community’s existing population, is unprecedented in Orange County. This type of mega-development is completely out of character for the suburban/exurban Village of South Blooming Grove.
Additionally, many hundreds of additional cars, thousands of additional water and sewer users and substantial new municipal expenses (e.g. police, fire, highway, clerks) are neither adequately addressed in the project’s documentation.
For example, Clovewood suggestst hat the development’s roads may - or may not be - maintained by a homeowners association.
These important considerations are clearly an afterthought, at best, for the applicant.
Perhaps the most significant concern - and the one with the longest history vis-a-vis this property - is Clovewood’s water demands.
The village has successfully argued and litigated the water issue for over a decade, explaining that the aquifer barely meets existing needs and municipal wells frequently run dry.
In its frenzy to develop this property, the applicant concedes the village is incapable of providing adequate water service to the project, pivots away from a previous proposal to construct a pipeline from the Village of Kiryas Joel and now, states their intention to drill six “bedrock” wells. I hold grave concerns that these six additional wells will have a detrimental impact on the community’s existing water supply, an unacceptable outcome.
Furthermore, the applicant was disturbingly dismissive when the village scrutinized their water quality reports, an issue that the state, with support from my office, has diligently worked to resolve, most recently delivering a $660,000 water quality grant in late 2019.
Finally, the project overlaps with a significant portion of the Ridgeline Overlay/Significant Biological Overlay and Scenic Viewshed Overlay/Significant Biological Overlay as laid out by the village’s zoning map.
Simply stated, the project is in direct violation of these zoning overlays and any attempts by the applicant to satisfy these concerns have been inadequate.
Furthermore, while Clovewood’s application claims it is their intention to preserve upwards of three-quarters of the property, they have seemingly taken zero steps toward realizing that prospect.
The concerns outlined in this letter are not exhaustive but do highlight the glaring omissions, shortcomings and negative impacts of the Clovewood project.
I thank the board for their due diligence in reviewing this correspondence as well as the application in question.