Storm water law changes shelved

File photo

File photo

By PHIL NOBILE

Major revisions to the Village of Mamaroneck’s storm water runoff law have been temporarily shelved as the village’s Harbor Coastal Zone Management Commission found the law to be inconsistent with the village’s encompassing waterfront doctrine.

Debated for months, revisions to Chapter 294 of village code, which involved aligning the law closer to New York State standards, have been put on hold as the Board of Trustees voted in favor of withdrawing possible revisions to the law at its May 27 meeting.

In a 4 to 1 vote—Democratic Trustee Leon Potok was the lone opposing vote—the village plans to “clarify and simplify” language in the law, according to Village Manager Richard Slingerland, and re-introduce it at the June 16 or July 7 Board of Trustees work session.

Specifically, the proposed revisions to the law would align village storm water law with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s by deleting or altering the law’s language in several sections.

According to Slingerland, the primary issues with the review of the village’s law were with differentiating between containing pre and post-development storm water runoff “as opposed to trying to retain all of the runoff created by new impervious surfaces.”

Standards set in current code made it “impossible” for proper storm water management to occur and not conflict with other village laws because village standards did not allow for building water retention or detention structures in certain areas. Such instances include trying to put water retention structures where there are large amounts of rock or bedrock, putting structures where there is a high water table, or where there are defined Brownfield issues, such as in the industrial areas.

The village has tried to alleviate confusion by adhering to state measures and language instead.

Disagreeing with his fellow trustees, Potok cited the need for dialogue between the board and the Harbor and Coastal Zone Management Commission, which deemed the revisions inconsistent with village waterfront code in a 4 to 3 vote in May.

“The finding of inconsistency is the first step in a dialogue to figure out why they determined it not to be consistent and to see whether or not we as a board agree with those suggestions,” Potok said. “If we find there is legitimacy to their points, we can modify the law and send it back to the Harbor and Coastal Zone Management Commission. That is the interaction between the boards.”

Potok said he wants to discuss the law now rather than wait for the Harbor and Coastal Zone Management Commission to become advisory as a result of a new law stripping the commission of its authority to determine consistency. Passed by a 3-1 trustee vote in early May, with Democratic Trustee Ilissa Miller absent and Potok voting no, the commission will become advisory later this month.

The ruling on the commission’s authority comes from the ongoing argument over the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization program—the encompassing document that, in principal, determines guides development along the Village of Mamaroneck’s coastal areas.

With the change, the Board of Trustees will choose whether or not to accept the commission’s consistency determinations. If the board chooses to disregard the commission’s determination, it may now do so without justification to the state, which is a co-sponsor of the LWRP.

“I would prefer that we go through the process of engaging with the Harbor and Coastal Zone Management Commission to see whether or not there is agreement on some changes instead of pulling the [storm water] law back and reintroducing it in June when…the commission is an advisory committee and makes an advisory opinion,” Potok said. “I don’t know why we don’t simply go through the process and hear what the objections are or the suggestions are.”

Other trustees were quick to counter Potok’s argument.

“Withdrawing is just easier this way,” Trustee Andres Bermudez-Hallstrom, a Democrat, said. “It’s not saying in any way we’re ignoring the Harbor and Coastal Zone Management Commission or their comments. It’s simply saying we’re withdrawing the law, we’ll re-draft it and re-introduce it with the changes the harbor coastal commission asked for.”

Some residents in the community agreed with Potok, wondering what the motives for taking the law off the table entirely were.

Doreen Roney, an outspoken critic of the proposed storm water revisions, agreed with the withdrawal, but questioned the intentions of the measure.

“Withdrawing it is a positive step because I don’t think it’s ready for prime time,” Roney said. “But if [the Board of Trustees] is taking it off the table to do their own review, that’s not prudent for the safety and welfare for the members of this community.”

Roney added concerns about a developer’s ability to interpret the revisions broadly because the removal of certain sections, such as a portion of Chapter 186 on erosion control that regulates soil erosion during developmental projects.

According to Roney, the state regulations only account for properties larger than one acre, which could allow developers to have a broader interpretation and leeway in the village.

“It’s putting us in a position where there will be huge problems,” she said. “It seems to me it opens up the door for development and water problems more than we need.”

Village officials long maintained the outstanding issues by members of the community would be covered under the new revisions, if adopted.

Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, could not be reached as of press time.

CONTACT: phil@hometwn.com

 
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About Phil Nobile

Phil Nobile is a Staff Writer for Hometown Media, mainly writing for the Harrison Review and the Mamaroneck Review. Before joining the Review, Nobile held a web internship at the Hartford Courant performing multiple journalism tasks. A graduate of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., Nobile wrote for the school’s newspaper, the Quinnipiac Chronicle, and held other leadership positions in organizations on campus. Nobile is a lifelong Westchester County resident. You can reach him at 914-653-1000 x17 or phil@hometwn.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @harrisonreview.