Carmans River Protection Plan
needs work

OP-ED
Long Island Advance April 7, 2011

By DON SEUBERT

The Long Island Advance correctly stated that we all love the Carmans with its gorgeous environment, wildlife, historical tale and beauty. It was crystal clear that all speakers wished the Carmans to be crystal clear forever but certainly no less than we wish any other stream, river, bay or our sound. When all are pristine we all win... and our bay again becomes “The Great South Bay.”

The Carmans Plan does not give assurances that Brookhaven’s other environmentally sensitive areas, waters and special places will be held harmless – their watersheds protected. The plan does not even offer science that the Carmans will be improved or “saved.”

The plan was to be a “model process” to save all rivers.” The fact is there is no town money for preservation and the plan offers development instead of an infusion of dollars.  The major protection tool is acquiring about 2,000 openspace-acres near the river, yet those same 2,000 acres are vacant open space purifying capturing areas now...  yet some are saying the river may soon be classified as “impaired.” Stricter requirements regarding wastewater discharge, nitrogen loading, control of the obnoxious Horseblock Road polluting industries, Brookhaven’s mega landfill, compost, construction/demolition debris, air quality, toxic plumes, Grucci, Caithness, chemical/liquid nitrogen storage, and garbage transfer stations may seem unimportant but should be the No. 1 concern for the river’s long term health.

Our surface waters and sole-source aquifer is Long Island.  Town government has the obligation and power to ensure our health with its planning and zoning. The plan’s transfer of huge housing density multipliers to neighborhoods, hamlets and school districts outside the Carmans will often end up in ur dirtiest of rivers, impaired well fields, under-resourced communities exacerbating sprawl and Brookhaven’s evaporating quality of life.

The plan does not even try to examine major environmental impacts to lands outside the protection area.  Impacts across school districts, hamlet plans or past and future Master Plans remain unexamined. The plan decimates community planning and overrides legitimate hamlet plans. There is no certainty as to where Carmans density can land – just somewhere on a main road. Whatever money materializes from “transfer of development rights” (TDR) purchases, where will preservation dollars come for community designated parcels beyond the Carmans? 

The outright gifts of higher housing density from 3.5 to 9 and 12 building units per acre for just 1 single parcel saved is absurd. The “scorecard” setup used to determine location sites and density bonuses ---basically says if your hamlet is already over populated, highly trafficked, water quality suspect, in bad and ugly shape we will slap the density and bonus densities right there. Homeowners adjoining split zoned residential J commercial and L-1 industrial properties will never know whether a major apartment complex or a mega gasoline station will be erected behind them. Memorializing in code that the 10,000 + of acres of commercial J2, J4, J5, J8, L-1 Industrial along major corridors are now floating zones of condominiums, apartments and co-ops is simply bad planning. Oh! Yes, if you’re 1,320 feet from the corridor expect more than the minimum “as of right” 3.5-4.5 units per acre. That decisive vote will not be by our elected town board but just the nod of the appointed planning board.

President Chad Trusnovec of the Yaphank Taxpayers and Civic Association offered great reasons for plan concern.  Lack of proper civic participation, outreach to the involved communities whether sending areas, receiving areas or local farmers and residents who reside upon the lakes. The short “100-day study” was a built-in prescription for suspicion and is loaded with a myriad of unintended and very negative consequences.  Considering the multiple major impacts all across Brookhaven and our environment, why has our town supervisor refused to have a State Environmental Quality Review Act Scoping Session to get a true handle on the Carmans Plan’s potential impacts?  Scoping sets SEQRA parameters and defines the debate.

At current value any developer can purchase a TDR building lot for about $80,000. What ‘s a building lot worth to you? How many builders, special interest groups, non-residents of Brookhaven, government officials voted on the “Carmans Study Committee?” How can bringing tens of thousands more units and as much as a 100,000 or more people to Brookhaven save our remaining rural areas, our quality of life and lessen the high cost of government – no less save our Rivers?

Don Seubert is the recording secretary for ABCO (Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organizations).