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BREAKING: SENATOR SKOUFIS TO DEC ON CLOVEWOOD- LETTER URGES STEEP FINES!





December 7, 2022

Natalie Brown

Environmental Program Specialist

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-0001


Dear Ms. Brown:

It has come to my attention that work at the Clovewood/Lake Ann project site in the Village of South Blooming Grove continues apace, despite repeated stop-work orders being issued by your office to the project’s developers.


As you know, I have long expressed concern regarding the unprecedented environmental and quality-of-life impacts posed by this development, including publicly testifying in opposition and submitting formal letters of concern to the municipality, which I’ve also shared with your office. Having heard from numerous local constituents in recent months about the continued pace of

work at the site, I was heartened to learn of DEC’s proactive response in issuing not one, not two, but five stop-work orders to curb improper activity, ordering virtually all construction activity to stop. However, given the developers’ flagrant violation of these mounting DEC directives, I urge your office to promptly levy the steepest possible fines, and take any other enforcement measures deemed necessary to halt work at the Clovewood site.


Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Thank you for your prompt attention to this very important matter.


Sincerely,

James Skoufis

Senator, 39th District



At last night's Blooming Grove Town Board Meeting, two residents who neighbor the property and who have pressed the DEC for action and fines spoke again about how the lack of enforcement by DEC sets a precedent for other developers to do the same, putting the formerly scenic site at the foothills of Schunnemunk Mt. at risk due to lack of proper drainage, building of a road without proper permit or oversight, destruction of threatened Rattlesnake nesting areas, and loss of forest that impacts stormwater drainage, to mention a few.


At a meeting in November when the Fifth Cease & Desist Order was issued, Blooming Grove Town Supervisor, Rob Jeroloman said that to date his many efforts to address the DEC about the issue, including numerous phone calls and two trips to Albany, had not resulted in action or compliance.


One of the two residents, John Daley, said last night that he is encouraged that after a year of reaching out to them the DEC is finally stepping in forcefully. He added that given all the work that was done during a time that they were under the C&D Orders but not abiding by it, every bit of that work should be considered a violation and illegal. He added that the remedial work that they have been ordered to do could pose a Catch-22 unless it is very closely monitored, becase there may be a significant gray area of what is remediation and what is yet more new work.


During a lengthy discussion of how the process of issuing fines occurs, and why some who flagrantly ignore the rules often have attorneys who negotiate the fine or make promises and sometimes end up with no fine at all, Jeroloman turned to Town Attorney Brian Nugent. Nugent said that the ultimate decision is up to the judge on the case. Pressed for what the public can do about these bad precedents Nugent said it is up to the public to continue to bring the facts to light and if they feel the judge is acting improperly they can report it to a Judicial Oversight Board.





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The Cease & Desist Orders had included a warning of $37,500 PER DAY, per instance of non-compliance.


Following is the 5th of the Cease & Desist Orders Issued on November 15:


November 21, 2022

Keen Equities LLC

4922 11th Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11219

Simon Gelb

CPC

P.O. Box 2020

Monroe, NY 10949


Notice of Violation/Cease and Desist Directive


RE: Construction Activity at Clovewood Estates

505 Clove Road, Village of South Blooming Grove


Dear Keen Equities LLC and Simon Gelb:

An inspection was performed at the above referenced site on November 15, 2022 to ensure compliance with this Department’s SPDES General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activity (GP-0-20-001). Construction projects which result in site disturbances of one or more acres are required to gain coverage under, and comply with, this Department’s SPDES General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activity (GP-0-20-001). At the time of the inspection, there were numerous pieces of heavy equipment

performing extensive soil disturbing activities.


Our records do not indicate that this project has gained coverage under that General Permit. A Cease and Desist Directive was first issued on May 24, 2022 and subsequent directives issued on June 17, 2022, July 20, 2022 and September 30, 2022. This work in is violation of the Cease and Desist Directives.

Failure to gain coverage under the General Permit is a violation of Article 17 of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law which is subject to penalties of $37,500 per day, per violation.


The Notice of Intent form can be found at

http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/water_pdf/noipgr10.pdf.

Again, this Department directs you to immediately Cease and Desist all

construction activity at the site, exclusive of that work necessary to correct erosion and sediment measures to prevent the contravention of the Water Quality Standards, until this Department notifies you in writing that the Cease and Desist directive has been lifted. This also excludes any remediation necessary due to improper erosion and sediment controls. Failure to comply with this Cease and Desist directive will result in the appropriate enforcement action by this Department.


In accordance with our November 17 meeting, all disturbed soil shall be stabilized within 14 days of November 17, 2022.

If you have any questions, I can be reached at (914) 803-8136.


Sincerely,


Natalie Browne

Environmental Program Specialist


cc: George Kalaj, Mayor, Village of South Blooming Grove

Al Fusco, P.E., Village Engineer, Village of South Blooming Grove




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