Regarding the proposed Brookhaven Rail Terminal parcel 

OP-ED
THE LONG ISLAND ADVANCE - August 16, 2012

By SUFFOLK COUNTY DIRECTOR OF PLANNING SARAH LANSDALE 

The efforts by this paper and civic groups to engage in an informed debate on the future use of land should be commended. Iím writing to clarify some statements in last weekís editorial in the Advance [August 9, 2012] concerning the proposed sale of land to Brookhaven Rail Terminal. 

The viability of the Carmans River is important to Suffolk County. The county is proud that it has purchased more land for preservation in the Carmans River watershed than all other government entities combined, 5,051.24 acres to be precise. To be clear, the parcel being offered for sale is located nearly two miles from the Carmans River, not one mile as suggested by the editorial. There has been a full and thorough environmental review by the county, resulting in an adopted Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement, which determined that the proposed sale would not have any significant adverse impact on the environment. To the fullest extent possible under the law, the county has provided the most extensive planning and environmental protection of the river as possible. In addition, as part of the contract, the developer will be required to comply with all applicable environmental regulations. 

Furthermore, the county will require that all septic waste from the project be treated by a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant, in order to fully protect the riverís watershed. When treated, the effluent nitrogen levels will be far lower than DEC standards and lower than standards that the town of Brookhavenís Carmans River Plan would have imposed. Estimates for nitrogen discharges from vacant/open space is 1.15 mg/l, agriculture yields 7.83 mg/l, whereas treated effluent discharged into the Upper Glacial Aquifer will be 1.9- 2.1 mg/l, well below the residential standard of 6 mg/l. 

The county parcel is not in a deep flow recharge zone. The existing BRT facility is located within Hydrogeologic Zone III, a deep flow recharge zone. The county property is located within Hydrogeologic Zone VI, which discharges stream flow and underflow to Moriches Bay and eastern Great South Bay. According to maps prepared by CDM for the Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan, treated effluent will flow to the southeast of the Carmans River, away from the freshwater portion of the river and be subject to significant dispersal. 

As part of the FGEIS process, the open space characteristics of this property were evaluated and there would not be a recommendation to include this as open space, if it were otherwise available. Ecologically, the site is not fully a classic Pine Barrens assemblage (75% deciduous and 14% coniferous), hence it is not part of the regulatory defined and designated Central Pine Barrens Zone. 

Further environmental review will not be lost under the NEPA process. For example, a full NEPA environmental assessment was conducted for the existing BRT. The South Yaphank Civic Association even submitted a letter of support dated October 29, 2008 to the town of Brookhaven. Brookhaven also conducted its own SEQRA review of the existing BRT site and issued a Negative Declaration. 

I appreciate the commitment of the Advance to ensuring an educated public and I hope these additional facts will serve to enhance the public debate.

Editorís Note: We appreciate the countyís and Ms. Lansdaleís comments. However, this paper has been reporting on Carmans River stories and issues for the last four years. We were not incorrect in stating that the adjacent property, the initial 18 acres, was in a deep flow recharge zone, a fact that no government entity has shed a spotlight on. As for the distance from the river, the southeast portion of the parcel, based on 2009 Suffolk County maps, show itís in the 5-to- 10-year contributing area. Also, no one has commented on Assemblyman Mike Millerís issues. This project, whatever it is, isnít the environmental panacea everyone touts. Lastly, not having a defined plan on a $20 million investment has not been addressed by the county