July 19, 2019 | Save Craryville Letter presented to the Copake Planning Board – Attorney Michael Zarin, Zarin & Steinmetz

July 19, 2019

Hon. Robert Haight
Chairman of the Town of Copake Planning Board and Members of the Planning Board
Town Hall
230 Mountain View Road
Copake, New York 12516

Re: GRJH Gas Station Proposal

Dear Chairman Haight and Members of the Planning Board:

As you will recall, this firm has been retained to represent Save Craryville in connection with the above-referenced matter. We are writing to advise the Board of our intention to present, together with Save Craryville’s professional consultants, at your August 1, 2019 Meeting on the items discussed in this letter, and as may be supplemented by new and/or additional information and/or documentation. Save Craryville specifically reserves the right to comment upon such new and/or additional documents as it obtains pursuant to our June 25, 2019 Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) request. We understand that documents responsive to our FOIL request will be produced on July 27, 2019.

To begin with, Save Craryville strongly objects to characterizations that the Chair has apparently made to the Town Board about it. The June 20, 2019 Edition of the Columbia Paper quotes the Chair as referring to “an organized group [that] is spreading misinformation and lies” on social media and elsewhere about the Planning Board. See https://www.columbiapaper.com/2019/06/public-urged-to-spend-donated-meds-money/. To the extent that statement is directed at Save Craryville, our client strongly objects to this false accusation. Save Craryville’s sole purpose is to protect and the serve the community. Its mission here is to ensure that GRJH’s Application is fully, fairly, rationally, and publicly reviewed. Save Craryville stands behind every word that it has published online and in documentation and communication submitted as part of the public record.

Other issues we and Save Craryville’s professional consultants intend to present at your August 1st Meeting include, but, again, are not limited to:

1. Status of Phase 1 ESA: In light of the subject property’s (“Site”) historic use as car dealership and repair shop, a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is clearly required. We understand, however, that none addressing the full history of the Site has been produced to date. We further understand that the purported study conducted by the Applicant’s technician inconclusively offered suggestions for further research. Respectfully, the Applicant must be required to rationally assess the Site’s history and then to conduct Phase II Environmental Site Assessment as appropriate.

2. Inadequate Hydrogeological Analysis: The letter from the Applicant’s consultant, Jean M. Patota, P.G., dated April 23, 2019, similarly improperly suggests deferring a rational assessment of the Project’s impacts by generically referencing “regulatory provisions, engineering controls, and operating practices” that may be required. Contrary to statements that we understand Patota has made to the Board, there is aquifer underneath the proposed Project, and potential impacts to it need to be rationally evaluated and addressed. Again, however, these measures be identified and subject to public review.

3. Status of Independent Consultant: Related to the previous point, respectfully, the Board needs to be more forthright and transparent on its process for evaluating the Project. The Board, by way of example, needs to be clearer with respect to the independent engineer it recognizes that it needs to assess the Project’s potential impacts. We understand that an escrow fund has been created for an independent engineer to be contracted by your Board to assist it in its review of the Project, including to conduct a groundwater impact analysis. Save Craryville would like to understand the engineer’s scope of work, the timing of his/her retention, and when the Board expects his/her report(s) to be produced.

4. Inadequate Assessment of Impacts on Visual Resources, Aesthetics, and Community Character: Save Craryville objects to the essential lack of meaningful analysis of the Project’s potential visual, aesthetic, and community character impacts. Respectfully, your Board should address measures to address the Project’s impacts in this regard, including, but not limited to, lighting, architecture, and landscaping. The Board should consider retaining an independent architect or planner at the Applicant's expense to assist it in assessing and avoiding or mitigating such impacts.

5. Deficient Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan: Save Craryville has continuing concerns about the Project’s stormwater pollution prevention plan (“SWPPP”), including issues raised by its environmental engineer, Bart Clark, P.E. The SWPPP must address issues including septic placement in a wetland and the presence of both a stream and wetland on the Site.

6. Appeal of Code Enforcement Officer’s Opinion: Save Craryville will update the Board on its efforts to challenge the determination issued by the Town Code Enforcement Officer with respect to the Project’s Special Permit. Save Craryville continues to believe that this Permit has lapsed, and respectfully submits that your Board should place this Application on hold until this issue is definitively resolved.

Finally, Save Craryville continues to object to the two-minute time limit placed on public comment, which stifles public input and denies your Board the benefits of public insight. Moreover, we certainly expect that Save Craryville’s counsel and professional consultants will be given adequate time to present. Respectfully, Save Craryville and other members of the public have a Constitutional Due Process right to be heard in a meaningful manner. See CBF Industria de Gusa S/A v. AMCI Holdings, Inc., 316 F.Supp.3d 635, 652 (S.D.N.Y. 2018) (“In this Circuit, ‘[t]he fundamental requirement of due process is the opportunity to be heard ‘at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.’’” (citations omitted)).

Respectfully submitted,

ZARIN & STEINMETZ

Michael Zarin

Daniel M. Richmond

Timothy Rode

cc: Save Craryville
Town of Copake Zoning Board of Appeals David Gordon, Esq.
Emily Svenson, Esq.
Mr. Paul Rubin
Save Craryville