The Lloyd Town Board has drawn up a local law aimed at prohibiting developers of large, multi-user projects from constructing private wastewater treatment plants on their sites. The law is under consideration and has not yet been passed by the board.
A key section of the proposed law explains the town’s reasoning concerning these systems.
“Package plants are pre-manufactured treatment facilities used to treat wastewater and generally involve direct discharges of treated sewage to surface waters, with increased potential for environmental impacts to water quality and natural resources. The potential for environmental harm can be further increased by the necessity of relying on private maintenance of these systems. Poorly maintained systems may result in greater environmental impacts. Finally, perpetual private maintenance and/or replacement of package plants serving multiple users cannot be satisfactorily guaranteed, which has the potential to lead to the necessity of the Town taking over the system when multiple users are involved to ensure that the users discharging wastewater into the plant will continue to have reliable sewer service.”
This law, however, does not sit well with developer Dan Gueron, of ADC Ulster, who has proposed a 166 residential housing project known as Falcon Ridge, off of Upper North Road on the site of the old Altamont Farm. His attorney, Andrew Gilchrist, appeared last week before the Town Board, saying that the proposed law would prevent his client from developing his property.
In a letter to the Town Board dated April 19, 2022, Gilchrist claimed that the Town of Lloyd used a moratorium to delay a town review of his client’s project, required his client to pay for a municipal sewer feasibility report, which concluded that his client would have to pay for a sewer line to his site at an estimated price tag between $2.5 million to $3.5 million, a cost that is not ‘economically feasible’ for his client’s project.
At the board meeting, Gilchrist said the type of private wastewater plant his client is proposing, “is allowable generally under New York Law.” He said to put in a system like this, his client needs the consent of the Town Board to create a Transportation Corporation that will own and operate the plant.
Gilchrist said the Water & Sewer Committee asked for details on what plant they wanted to build, but to answer that question involves a considerable amount of engineering work; categorizing this as a ‘Catch-22 situation’ for his client when they are only in the conception phase.
Gilchrist said this newly proposed law is, “simply the latest attempt by the Town of Lloyd to utilize municipal authority to prohibit ADC Ulster from improving property in a manner consistent with applicable law.” He said without the component of a private wastewater treatment plant the project cannot financially proceed.
Councilman Joe Mazzetti suggested putting wells and septic systems on each of the home sites, which would result in designing lots larger than the current proposal of each at .34 acre. Gilchrist said this is not possible, “because it significantly reduces the economically viability of the project.” Mazzetti noted that the developer would make less money because the increase in lot size means less than the desired 166 proposal. Gilchrist said any developer starts off by knowing how the property is zoned and in light of all applicable regulations, how many lots are allowable on the property.
“This town has already made the legislative determination that 166 lots are appropriate on the property; it’s a 520 acre lot,” Gilchrist said. “And the only way to do that is with a private wastewater treatment plant.”
Gilchrist said presently there are no other development projects pending or proposed in Lloyd that are seeking to own or operate a private wastewater treatment facility.
“This targeted local law constitutes a clear violation of the equal protection and substantive due process rights of ADC Ulster under the Federal and State Constitutions,” he wrote, describing this as a ‘strong arm tactic’ by the town to get his client, “to pay for what he believes is a municipal infrastructure project.”
Gilchrist admitted only when pressed by Councilman Mazzetti, that when the project was initially proposed, his client said he would pay for a sewer line that ran from his site, south on Route 9W and hook into the town’s system at Grand Street in order to bring effluent down to the town’s sewer plant near the Hudson River. Once Gueron realized the true cost involved with this option, he then proposed tying into the North Road sewer line near the post office but was informed that this line was unable to handle the amount of wastewater coming from his project. This is what led Gueron to propose an on-site treatment plant for his project.
Supervisor Dave Plavchak addressed Gilchrist’s concerns, saying the board understands the status of this proposed project, “but there are also risks on our side and we’re going to continue to discuss it and decide how to move forward. If we see this as a large risk, we may choose not to do it. That’s where we’re at right now.” In addition, Plavchak said the board also has to weigh the benefits to the town of a conservation subdivision, which is what the developer is seeking.
Mazzetti told Gilchrist that the Town Board, “has to look at the big picture and how does your project affect future generations.”