Since Supervisor George Meyers officially took office in January, the Town of New Windsor has been back in business. Meyers has pledged to run a government that focuses on the needs of residents. One of his many projects to achieve that goal is a temporary moratorium on building development. After a public hearing last Wednesday, the Town of New Windsor voted to approve the moratorium.
The Town of New Windsor Justice Hall was packed with residents and development project affiliates alike, as both groups sought the opportunity to either criticize or embrace the moratorium.
According to David Zagon, New Windsor Town Attorney, the moratorium was drafted after a recent review by the Supervisor’s office. The resolution for the moratorium’s public hearing was introduced officially at last month’s meeting.
The temporary moratorium will only last a total of three months. The moratorium offers the New Windsor Town Board more time to evaluate and solve the town’s conditions.
“The most notable issues leading to this action are one, capacity constraints at the sewer treatment plant,” said Zagon. “Along with the overall aging and outdated sewer infrastructure. ”
The second issue Zagon spoke on was concerns over the town’s main water supply. The water supply was contaminated with PFOS/PFAS in 2016.
The third issue Zagon spoke on was how building development can cause traffic congestion at certain times and locations. Zagon also mentioned how there are more concerns about the amount and type of development in the town.
“In light of these issues,” said Zagon. “The Board believes it’s necessary and appropriate to take immediate action. So, as to not endanger the public’s health, safety and general welfare.”
Michael Weeks of the town’s engineering firm, McGoey, Hauser and Edsall, spoke on the sewage issues. New Windsor’s wastewater treatment plant currently treats 5 million gallons a day on a monthly basis. The facility still has outdated components.
“Since then, there has been minor maintenance activity conducted at the plant,” said Weeks. “But no real improvements to enhanced treatment.” The plant requires maintenance and upgrades.
Weeks said that there’s been an increase in sewer flowage. There has even been times that flowage has exceeded the current capacity.
“We’re very concerned with this trend of increasing flows and the impact those increasing flows have on the ability to effectively treat the wastewater,” said Weeks. “Certainly, continuing to allow further development to connect to the sewer system is going to increase the flows we’ve already seen.” Weeks said the moratorium will allow more time to address the sewage issues.
Weeks said New Windsor is currently conducting an inflow and infiltration study that addresses the water infiltrating into the stormwater system. Increased inflow and infiltration also creates capacity issues. If the capacity issues aren’t addressed for the sewage plant, the town runs risk at becoming in violation of DEC regulations.
Despite listed issues, lawyers, business owners, developers, and representatives spoke out against the moratorium or asked to be made exempt from the moratorium.
DP Stone Gate Llc. is one of many entities that will be impacted by the moratorium. John Cappello, attorney, spoke for DP. Cappello also previously wrote a letter addressing the moratorium to the town. DP is hoping to build a controversial apartment complex that has been openly criticized by residents of the town.
According to Cappello the project has been in front of the planning board and town board for over 17 months.
“We are not only developers. DP has purchased land,” said Cappello. “[We want to] address and help deviate an issue related to your water service. We can be part of the solution.”
Cappello believes that development can help improve infrastructure issues. He asked for an exemption for pending applications and for that developers can potentially be added to future conversations over improvements.
“Incorporating new development, incorporating new rateables, incorporating new options can bring new solutions.”
Dave Nunnally was one New Windsor resident who periodically shook his head while individuals spoke against the moratorium.
“New Windsor’s going to exist for a long time,” said Nunnally. “A moratorium is not a forever thing. It’s a temporary thing. It gives us a chance to step back, take a look at things. Assess what’s going on.”
Nunnally referenced the uproar over the location of a small amount of bathrooms in the Walmart Super Center. He made the point that the space taken by many development projects would be larger, and is even more worthy of criticism.
“We have been on top of this issue probably since November,” said Meyers over the moratorium. “We are going to protect the residents.”
Since the proposal of the temporary moratorium, the town has been flooded by letters, phone calls, and emails opposing it from various development projects.
Edit: It was misprinted that the water contamination occured in 2018.