Sunday, February 05, 2006

Hidden Forest Scoping Document Deficient in Areas

The Hidden Forest "Draft Final" EIS Scoping Document appears to be deficient in several areas. While SEQR permits considerable flexibility in the format of the Draft and Final EIS; the organization of the Hidden Forest "Draft Final" scoping document is such that essential components of an EIS are missing or obscured. For example, rather than present project alternatives early in the document, as would be done for a Federal (NEPA) EIS, the project alternatives are located at the back of the document, and are not the focus of the study. Mitigation and monitoring for each proposed alternative (which seem to focus on traffic design and the number of housing units, rather than the overall project spatial footprint) are not specified. A summary of impacts by alternative is not included. The scoping document does not indicate that an alternatives matrix (an important EIS component) will be developed for the draft EIS. According to NYSDEC, one of the purposes of the SEQR scoping process is to provide an initial identification of mitigation measures for antipated project impacts. This is not provided in the scoping document, and normally would be a component of the alternatives analysis, had the document been organized such that the project alternatives were highlighted. Finally, the emphasis of the scoping document is heavily weighted towards traffic and socio-economic impacts. These two categories of impacts are presented in considerable detail, relative to impacts to natural resources (wetlands, wildlife, soils, hydrology, etc.).If this is because information on these study components is lacking and requires further data collection/environmental studies, it should have been stated in the scoping document, as identification of the extent and quality of information required to complete the EIS is also specified by NYSDEC as a primary objective of the SEQR scoping process.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having read the article posted on Sunday, February 5, I totally concur with the author. The development known as Hidden Forest should be thoroughly evaluated for all of the impacts that will effect the Town of Hurley and the surrounding communities. Hurley, at the current time, does not have the manpower to deal with a project of this size and scope. Therefore, it is important that we have all the necessary studies to prevent the project from becoming an environmental problem in the future.

There are definately more considerations than the traffic and socio-economic effects. How about the water? Is there enough? Who monitors the waste treatment facility? Town officials, paid professionals, county officials or do we just accept reports from the facility administrators? Do we have plan or require plans to deal with a failure at the facility? It will fail or go offline periodically. What other impacts will there be?

This is a serious undertaking. Hurley needs to make critical and knowledgable decisions regarding this development. No stone should be left unturned. If this project is unsuitable for the site, then find one that is. The town needs to demand as many studies they deem necessary and appropriate. The project will be here for eternity, waiting a few months for studies is just a small fractional component in the timeline for the development. If we do it, let's do it right. The town and county governments have the moral, ethical and fiduciary responsibility to protect its current and future residents.