COPake ZBA meeting

thursday, SEPTEMBER 26, 2019 - 7:00P AT COPAKE TOWN HALL

COPake planning board meeting

thursday, October 3, 2019 - 7:00P AT COPAKE TOWN HALL


GRJH, INC. HAS STATED THAT THE PROPOSED SITE DOES NOT SIT OVER A MAPPED AQUIFER. IT DOES. IN 2014, THE DEC AUTHORED A COMPREHENSIVE SUMMARY OF COPAKE’s WATER RESOURCES. PAGE 25 EXPLICITLY depicts the unconfined, mid-yield aquifer under the proposed site. The characteristics of an unconfined aquifer put local well water at a higher risk of exposure to contamination.

GRJH, Inc., [Cobble Pond Farm] is seeking approval from the Town of Copake to develop one of the largest gas station/convenience stores in Columbia County at an historic and environmentally sensitive intersection–the gateway to the Taconic-Berkshire Region. GRJH, Inc.’s application to build the gas station at the intersection of NY Route 23 and County Route 7 has already been approved by the Copake Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), receiving a “Negative Declaration of Significance” determination in the New York State-required SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) assessment. The Save Craryville community coalition was formed in response to the discovery of this decision by the ZBA. Save Craryville believes that there are in fact potential, serious environmental consequences associated with this project, and that the ZBA should have questioned many aspects of the Environmental Impact Statement submitted by the applicant. Now, the project has advanced to the Copake Planning Board, which is conducting a site plan review to ensure that the project conforms with the Town of Copake Zoning Code. This final review process is our community’s last chance to make sure that true due diligence is conducted to ensure the environmental, aesthetic and scenic value of our hamlet is not impacted. Save Craryville has engaged the services of of the environmental land use attorney David K. Gordon and associate attorney Emily Svenson to assist with strategy.

GRJH, Inc. owns many gas stations in the Northeast and has been sued multiple times for violating environmental protection laws. In most instances these cases have been settled prior to going to trial. However, the company's history is troubling, particularly given that the proposed site is on top of the aquifer on which the community relies for well water and crop irrigation.


1. Revised site plan that conforms to Copake Zoning Code

The members of the Planning Board have not fully exercised their authority to ensure GRJH’s site plan conforms to code. After 8 months of legal letters and public hearings, the Planning Board has acted on only a few of the violations outlined by Save Craryville. The building height was lowered, the developed area was reduced to an area [mostly] outside setbacks and the number of fueling positions or ‘nozzles’ was finally and conclusively reduced from 12 to 6. As our legal record holds, many aspects of the site plan still do not conform to code.

2. Phase I Environmental Site Assessment focused on potential subsurface contamination 

At the May 2 Public Hearing, Planning Board Chairman Bob Haight said that he believed the missing Phase I EAS had been satisfied. The study that intended to determine the potential for existing subsurface contamination was conducted by the applicant's technician and inconclusively offered suggestions for further research.

3. Independent Engineer

Chairman Bob Haight announced at the May 2 Public Hearing that the escrow had finally been created and an independent engineer would be contracted by the Board. Details of said engineer’s scope of work was discussed by Members of the Board after the Public Hearing ended so the public was not present to comment.

4. Revised Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan

None of the concerns raised by Save Craryville environmental engineer Bart Clark have been addressed by the Planning Board and the applicant. A revised Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan was submitted but did not address concerns regarding septic placement in a wetland and the presence of both a stream and wetland on the site.

5. Groundwater Impact Analysis

Although the applicant's hydrogeologist submitted a non-technical and broad denial of statements by Save Craryville hydrogeologist Paul Rubin, the Planning Board has still not contracted an independent engineer to conduct a Groundwater Impact Analysis.

6. Visual Impact Report

There has been little to no consideration for the Visual Impacts of the site–potential improvements to lighting, architecture, landscaping and building techniques have been ignored. The Planning Board has the authority to contract an independent architect or planner at the applicant's expense to recommend and require certain aesthetic measures be taken on the site. The Planning Board members have not exercised said authority.