By Rebecca Martin
ACTION: There are only four days left for Kingston to be added as an Involved Agency. Call Mayor Shayne Gallo at 845/334-3902 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request that a new letter from the Corporation Council be issued to the Town of Ulster requesting the City of Kingston be Involved Agency. Here is why:
On October 24th, 2014, City of Kingston Corporation Council Andrew Zweben wrote a letter to Martin Brand of the DEC (in response to Riverkeeper) regarding the SEQRA Coordinated Review for the Niagara Bottling Company. In it, he describes why the City of Kingston should not have a role as an ‘Involved Agency” in SEQR.
His opinion is based on what some have called a ‘Segmented’ ACTION in the Environmental Assessment Form submitted by the Chazen Companies, Niagara Bottling’s consultant where the facility build and not the water delivery is all that is noted.
The ACTION of an Environmental Assessment Form is meant to outline the entire project, as it is the Action that the SEQR evaluation is based upon. Leaving pieces out is known as ‘Segmentation’ and is illegal in SEQR.
It is surprising that Kingston’s Corporation Council would place his reputation on the line to craft the letter that he did acknowledging that it was based on the EAF Action. Given his long experience working for Municipalities, questioning the Action before making a recommendation like this would only be logical. Now, the letter that he has created serves as a road block for the City of Kingston, harming the opportunity for the Kingston community to have a seat at the table as it pertains to the proposed Water sale.
Without a doubt, there will be infrastructure improvements required which would trigger oversight by the Kingston Common Council. Whether or not Niagara pays for the improvements. Whether or not bonding is pursued. The Charter states that the Council has a responsibility to oversee construction and maintenance of waterworks (read below). Therefore, the City of Kingston should be an Involved Agency in the SEQR process for the proposed Niagara Bottling Company project.
Kingston’s Charter states that the Common Council has oversight over construction and maintenance of waterworks:
In the City of Kingston’s Charter in C11-4 Powers, it states that “Said Board, with the assent of the Common Council, may construct and maintain waterworks for supplying said city and its inhabitants with pure and wholesome water; exercise such powers as are necessary and proper to accomplish such purpose and shall proceed in the manner hereinafter prescribed.”
The Kingston Water Department would need to perform improvements in order to ‘accomplish delivery’ of water to Tech City in excess of 1.0 MGD.
Kingston Water Department ‘Will Serve” Letter
“Additional improvements to the Kingston Water Department water distribution system would be necessary to accomplish a higher ‘delivery” demand to the Niagara facility. In view of this, the Board of Water Commissioners of the City of Kingston Water Department (Board) commissioned its consultant, CDM Smith, to perform a demand analysis and has identified specific improvements to accomplish ‘delivery’ in excess of 1.0 MGD. Preliminary estimate for the cost of the work, without a geotechnical investigation and assuming minimal rock removal is approximately $2M”
In Corporation Council Andy Zweben’s letter to Martin Brand of the DEC on October 24th, he bases his opinion on the City of Kingston not being an Involved Agency based on an incomplete Action that in SEQR is known as ‘Segmentation’.
“The proposed Action of the Niagara Bottling Company does not include any bonding by the Water Department or the Construction by it of any capital improvements.”