Friday, November 21, 2014

143- The Bruderhof Factory

You can read the minutes of the Esopus Planning Board meeting of January 15, 2014.  In this meeting we see the familiar mugs of Michael Moriello and Dennis Larios, representing Bruderhof's legal and engineering interests respectively.

The project was presented to the Planning Board, though in the project application, Bruderhof claims that discussions with town officials took place before the property was purchased two years earlier and assurances were made by town personnel that the factory would be approved.

For now, we will just pretend that everybody here was on the level, and we will look at the project on its face.

The application included descriptions of what would be produced in the factory.  The toys and medical equipment, the items disclosed to the Planning Board, are not approved manufactured items in the RF-1 zone.  The only manufacturing that is allowed in the RF-1 zone is mill work, but not furniture production.

A vague reference to federal statute in a legal letter by somebody unknown to me has me suspecting that the exception Bruderhof will claim is the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), described in a previous post.  Here is how that would work:

Bruderhof is a religious community, which is a permitted use in the Riverfront (RF-1) zone, the property in question.  Under normal circumstances, there would likely need to be a subdivision for the manufacturing use.  However, the applicants (Bruderhof) through Hans Boller, their PR guy, claimed that  "manufacturing is part of their religious life. Whatever is made and sold is filtered back into the religious community." What we see here is a claim that the act of "manufacturing" is claimed as part of the religion, so theirs will be a religious factory, no matter what it produces.

For some years, not far from Ulster County, Bruderhof produced airplanes.  It might again.  Who is to say that once the factory is built, it will not then switch manufacturing to whatever else Bruderhof is doing at the time?  This church has been assigned the aircraft patents of its interest's CEO, Christian Domer.

I spent hours trying to track this company's, sorry, church's corporate/operational web, and I lost the trail when the Rifton Aviation Services sold, and I got lost among Rifton Management LLC, Rifton Enterprises Inc, Rifton Enterprises LLC, Rifton Equipment, Bruderhof Communities in CT Inc, Community Products LLC, and of course Community Playthings LLC (dissolved).

This church has some SLICK accountants.

the interesting thing is that Hans Boller volunteered that Bruderhof wants to pay taxes to the town on the factory portion of the religious manufacturing experience, but does not want to subdivide the land, or seek a variance from the town in order to legally manufacture consumer products.  What this comes down to is the following:  Bruderhof wants their factory to be part of their general (and allowed in RF-1 zone) religious community, but they also want to pay taxes on this business.  Paying taxes on money earned in religious contemplation and activity, which is then spent to sustain the very people and very land that the workers live on, is all part of the same religious experience.  There is no way that the town can grant this church a religious exemption to produce furniture, or wheelchairs, or airplanes, or any other disallowed use in the RF-1 zone, and then turn around and collect taxes on the business operation, as though it were secular.

Is this church an exempt religious organization making consumer product to support itself?  Or is it a taxpaying landowner?  It seems the Esopus Planning Board and the church want it to be some of each.  Attorneys for Bruderhof stated, naturally, that there is no need to subdivide the property, which means that when the property is sold, manufacturing will be an allowed use for any buyer.  If no variance is granted for the factory, then the factory can only ever be operated by a religious organization.  How can a buyer of a property with a factory on it not be permitted to use the factory?  It can, since the use will be grandfathered in, somehow.  This is what the Town of Esopus is setting itself up for. Eventually.

To be fair, it has been reported to me that opinions of other employees of the Town of Esopus that have been consulted and ignored, are that this project requires a zoning variance.

142- That is SOME Vow of Poverty

I just found this New York Times article and could not resist sharing it.  To help set the tone for upcoming information about the factory these people want to build and operate on Mt St Alphonsus in Esopus.

From the New York Times, 1996:

Sometimes A Luxury Jet Serves God

Published: October 13, 1996
THE Woodcrest Bruderhof have lived here for more than 40 years, and people still think of them as the Amish With Cars. Not so. Why, just the other day, members of this Christian pacifist sect were talking up big plans for their Gulfstream III executive charter jet.
Johann Christoph Arnold, the church elder, held up a two-page brochure with flattering glossies of the 11-passenger luxury plane. ''How'd you like to fly in one of these?'' he said teasingly, pointing out seats that looked like Barcaloungers.
Sipping strong coffee and nibbling dark chocolates, the Bruderhof were positively ecstatic over their new deal with the State Department of Transportation to lease an old hangar at Stewart airport in Newburgh. The deal will give their international air charter business, Rifton Enterprises, a home base a half-hour from home. In a few months, once they renovate the hangar, the Bruderhof plan to offer a gamut of services, from training to aircraft maintenance to plane rentals and sales. They're especially excited at the prospect of selling fuel, breaking a monopoly at Stewart by an American Airlines subsidiary.
WHICH sounds like a pretty deep dive into the waters of free enterprise for a spiritual movement whose 2,500 members in the United States and England pledge to live lives of hard work, community service and poverty.

141-The Ulster County Charlatans Are At It Again in Esopus

One of Ulster County's Hudson River jewels is the 400+ acre land known as Mt. St Alphonsus.  It was founded by the (Roman Catholic) Redemptionist Congregation in the early 20th century, and was home to Redemtionist seminarians for about one hundred years.  The land and the beautiful buildings were maintained in pristine condition, and due to a decrease in number of seminarians, sold in 2012.  The buyer is Bruderhof, a church growing out of the Anabaptist movement (from the 16th Century, the root of Amish, Mennonite and Hutterite churches.)

Bruderhof is a huge presence in Ulster County already, and their purchase of and residence on Mt. St. Alphonsus has only strengthened their representation and influence.

Bruderhof is currently applying to build a factory on Mt. St. Alphonsus, and their legal and engineering representation is none other than the sleazy team of Risely & Moriello, and Brinier & Larios.  These of course pushed the RUPCO project into Woodstock, and are at their same tricks now in Esopus.

Bruderhof runs several manufacturing businesses.  One of them is toys and furniture for children.  The furniture is made of maple.  Another business is Rifton, which makes furniture and other devices for the disabled.  These items involve metal, paint, upholstery, etc.

But wait, a factory?  On Mt. St. Alphonsus?  Isn't Mt. St. Alphonsus protected from hosting a factory by local zoning laws.? Yes, of course.  Mt. St. Alphonsus is in the RF-1 zone in Esopus, which is "rivefront residential."  The riverfront part is especially important, as it is supposed to protect the region as a natural riverfront asset.  Bruderhof claims that their business of manufacturing is part of their religious life, and that all of their income will be filtered back into their church.  Sounds typical of a church justifying whatever they care to do.  So, hand these people a religious exemption, and let them do whatever they want to do, whatever the zoning restrictions.

How can this be allowed?  It is allowed.  This is par for the course under RLUIPA:
The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), Pub.L. 106–274, codified as 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq., is a United States federal law that prohibits the imposition of burdens on the ability of prisoners to worship as they please and gives churches and other religious institutions a way to avoid burdensome zoning law restrictions on their property use. It also defines the term “religious exercise” to include "any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief."
By claiming that manufacturing and selling {whatever} is part of their religious life, Bruderhof can put a factory producing {whatever} on their land.  It's that easy.

If that was the end of the story, we could blame the federal statute and go home.  But, of course, where Michael Moriello is seen in a planning board meeting having a fit, yelling defensively, you know there is more at play.

Let us dig deeper.  Soon.

Friday, February 1, 2013

140- Now It Is Saugerties' Turn

By now you have heard that RUPCO wants to build "affordable housing" in Saugerties. Why? Is there a need? No, not according to the landlords in Saugerties who are sitting with empty apartments that seem awfully affordable. No, not according to real estate rules of thumb about the split between rental and owned households.  Saugerties is already tipped a little heavily towards the rental side of the balance. So then, why must RUPCO build affordable housing in Saugerties?  Because Saugerties is in Ulster County and that is where RUPCO operates, and there are tax credits to be had.

In a recent article, Kevin O'Connor explains that people are spending more than the recommended 30% of their income on housing, therefore housing is not affordable.  Well, who says 30% is the right number?  It used to be 20%, then 25, then 30, so why not higher now?  In some places in the world that percentage is 40.  As people move out from the cities, work at home, real estate costs in the outlying towns, like the towns of Ulster County with great transportation service to NYC, become more expensive.  That means housing becomes a higher percentage of income.  Also, there are more single person households as a percentage of all households, meaning that people must spend more on their households since they are carrying the full costs of the household by themselves.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

139- RUPCO keeps violating

Last week, my neighbor took this photo from in front of her house, next to my house, on Evergreen Lane. Why is this a violation? Because trucks are permitted to use Playhouse Lane ONLY, not the surrounding streets. Not Evergreen Lane, not Birch Lane. Does RUPCO care? Nah. Does town of Woodstock care? Nah. It's just a truck, right? What's the big deal? What's wit a few bent rules...

Thing is, the streets that this truck is on in this photo, Birch Lane and Evergreen Lane, were not even drawn in to RUPCO's traffic analysis.  According to RUPCO, Birch Lane and Evergreen Lane do not even exist, so therefore it's not really a violation... right?

When you let sleazy people define reality for you, you are asking for trouble.

By the way, congratulations to RUPCO for putting that foundation in backwards and then firing the building foreman, or whatever the details were. I guess SOME things really do need to stick to plan, eh boys?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

138- RUPCO Works on Sunday

In clear violation of any permit in its despicable hands, RUPCO is today, Sunday, at work on its housing project, with heavy equipment.  Permits specify work hours are 7 to 7, Monday to Friday and sometimes Saturday, but never on Sunday.  RUPCO even worked Thanksgiving day.  Fine, that was a Thursday.  But today is Sunday, and they are not allowed to work.  It's just one more violation.

Also, generators run all night long, which wake me up.  I did not know where this deep vibration was coming from, but a neighbor who lives closer says that RUPCO runs generators all night long.  I am woken up by these vibrations, which seem to me to constitute construction noise, but I am sure that if I said anything about it, RUPCO or Town of Woodstock would find a loophole to justify this 24/7 disturbance.  In addition, they have flashing lights all night, which also disturb other neighbors, but do not disturb me.

Town of Woodstock is guilty of lack of enforcement, of this and quite a few other violations.

Not that any of this is at all surprising.

Just a point of information, for the record. For the future.  For the benefit of others......

Friday, September 16, 2011

137- Planning Board Public Hearing on Revocation of RUPCO Special Use Permit

The "public hearing" was pretty predictable.  Many people attended, some spoke, mostly complained of RUPCO's illegal and blatant disregard for private property and the terms of their Special Use Permit.  The glaring and disgusting and unfortunately also expected aspect was that Planning Board Chair Paul Shultis, Jr. asked RUPCO personnel to stay away.  Now, it seems as though the point of a public hearing is so that RUPCO can actually HEAR the complaints, however it is obvious that Shultis wants to string this out as long as possible, in order to give RUPCO two more weeks to violate the terms so that they can then, two days later, do what they want, when it becomes legal (Oct. 1).

By way of clarification, the bats are protected on the site until Oct. 1, so by giving RUPCO until Sept. 29 to respond to complaints, the planning board will have only one more day before RUPCO can come around to the other side of the project, which is where they were supposed to be working the last two months.

Woodstock Land Use attorney Drayton Grant was there, sleazy as ever, claiming that she was not prepared to produce the notice of revocation that would be required to get the ball rolling to revoke the special use permit.  She claimed more research on the documents needed to be done.  To this I must counter that this public hearing was set two weeks ago, and any person who was taking this seriously would have prepared by reviewing the documents on the topics of the already alleged violations.

I remember a couple of year ago when I first attended planning board meetings.  My neighbor Iris York told me who all the RUPCO personnel were, and their functions.  Then I asked her who that woman was who frequently showed up and worked for RUPCO.  Iris said that it was Drayton Grant, and that yes, it did appear to an outsider that she does work for RUPCO, not for the town.  She had a great time last night, laughed a lot.  That's because she lives in Rhinebeck, where there are no trucks driving over her property, none of her trees being cut down, no trucks idling in her driveway, etc. Plus, she gets paid, unlike everybody else in the room last night except for RUPCO's attorney.

RUPCO's attorney, Michael Moriello, reported that he was trying very very hard to get the DEC to allow RUPCO to build the bridge over the creek before October 1.  This is the equivalent of trying very very hard to get the DEC to NOT protect an endangered species.  He also said that in his opinion, RUPCO was not violating any terms of the special use permit.  All one has to do is hear that to know that these are NOT people with whom we want to negotiate.

So, of course, at the end of the meeting, Moriello asked Shultis the chair to sit down with the attorney Drayton Grant, and one other planning board member, before Sept. 29, to try to work some things out.  Yes, in the face of violations, the town is going to sit down and negotiate, instead of enforce the terms of the special use permit.

RUPCO is a bunch of bullies, and central to their arguments these days is "responsibility to investors," which seems to have taken the place of their angelic self-representation as providers of affordable housing for the people in need.

Last night, I introduced myself anew to the planning board, citing my professional experience with cars, urban issues, planning, and that experience is ample.  I told the planning board that many lawsuits as a result of accidents would occur, and there I will be, with everything on tape, and ready to repeat everything, and there they will be, called to testify, with no good reason they did not listen to reason and stand up to the violations when they had the chance.  Paul Shultis Jr. once said to me, "What are you going to do to me, Robin, I'm a volunteer!"  Well, volunteer or not, he chose to work on the planning board, to uphold town law, to protect the public safety through his decisions.  So what is going to happen to him and others in the town who cower to the bullies with the deep pockets, is that he will have to face the music when accidents, resulting from these violations, occur, and when legal action against the town, and him, occur.

What nobody is talking about is that what results from violations are accidents.  Sometimes.  Sometimes it is merely a truck running over a lawn, or pollution coming into somebody's house, but the RUPCO that does these violations and does not have any construction oversight is certainly violating codes and regulations in other ways.  And the town should be much more interested in stopping these violations immediately.

I tried to explain this last night.  It appears that Shultis is penny wise pound foolish.  This will result in his being pounded later on, and I will have done my part to prevent it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

136- That New York Times Article

Thanks to Peter Applebome for a good overview of a town in conflict.  While it is true that space limitations can be blamed for many omissions in a busy newspaper, I would like to point out the important fact that this blog began not because I was opposed to this housing project, but because the traffic study used seemed incomplete, and seemed to ignore what was and is, to the eye, and to any statistician, an unsafe intersection at the project's main access road.  I have shown the traffic study to be indeed manipulated to ignore car activity in that intersection.  I also have shown that the width of the access road is not as wide as the developer claimed, and narrower than universally used design standards.

I also have shown that RUPCO, the developer, intentionally misquoted a town official in the environmental impact statement's water supply section in order to have the town approve the project.  RUPCO also claimed that the project site is in the town water district, and in fact it lies outside the water district.  Later, through quite an effort, some citizens and a consulting hydrogeologist convinced the NY Department of Environmental Conservation that there is not necessarily enough water, and this is why the town now has to spend $100,000 on well testing.  That test would have been paid by RUPCO if the test had been ordered before the project had been approved by the town.

All this to say that my opposition, and this blog, began because of two SAFETY concerns: traffic and fire protection.  The New York Times article is fine, but as far as I am concerned, its referenced "errors and problems the planning process missed" that I found and wrote about, are life and death problems of ignored safety precautions, and trump anything else on the table.

Friday, September 2, 2011



Thursday, September 15, sometime around 5:30, Woodstock Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the construction site violations RUPCO is committing on the housing project site.  This was decided on last night at Planning Board meeting, as a result of reviewing Iris York's excellent work to alert the building inspector, planning board, deputy supervisor, to the problems, as well as coordinating neighbors.

By law, the planning board has the authority to hold this public hearing, and if RUPCO does not cease the violations, their work will be shut down as a result of a rescinded Special Use Permit.

 Nice to see the planning board has a spine.  Chair Shultis has been driving around, yelling at various RUPCO officials, and with good reason.  As he pointed out last night at the meeting,  RUPCO submitted the plan, and all the planning board did was authorize it.

 Now let us get into the violations themselves:

First, and most obvious, RUPCO has been bringing all their heavy machinery, and everything and everyone, in and out on the Elwyn Quarry side, even parking in residents' driveways.  The entire act of site access from the western side is a violation, as the initial work to clear the trees from that side over to the east/Playhouse Lane side was the only work permitted to commence from that western side. I found out the reason RUPCO is doing this, but when I told the planning board last night, Alan Duane tried to shut me up, arguing that the meeting was not a public hearing.  Alan Duane was very concerned that a fight might break out between town departments, and it seems much more important to him to have interpersonal harmony, even if it leads to accidents or fires, (which are, by the way, not exactly harmonious events for those involved,) than to face the music and deal.

 Anyway, enough about foolish Alan Duane.  The reason RUPCO is doing all the work from the unauthorized side is because they did not clear all the trees in which the protected Indiana bats are nesting.  Nesting, protected, until November 1 (correction: Oct.1).   I am guessing that RUPCO finds it easier to meet the DEC conditions than the conditions imposed by the Woodstock Planning Board.  It is the DEC that protects the bats, and the town that says which road to use.  If were caught between a DEC and a group of tired volunteers, I know whose rules I'd try to violate.

 Shultis told me to submit my comments in writing.  He was trying to keep harmony with Alan Duane, or stop me before I told the board any worse news.  I got the news about the bats from construction site personnel, (addition Sept. 15: although he said November first was the date they could build the bridge,) at the edge of the site, just walking my dog, sometime last week.  That's about it, and now here it is, submitted in writing.  Submitted to everybody.

So there it is: RUPCO cannot build the bridge until November.  RUPCO will continue to violate the access condition until then, or it will have to stay off the site.

 Another violation: RUPCO has no person overseeing the project on site, and a condition of the Special Use Permit, as described in the DEIS section 2.5, is that an independent inspector be engaged by RUPCO.  RUPCO's Chuck Snyder claims that the contract engineer Darin Dekoskie is the inspector, (who is not exactly independent of the project anyway,) but Darin told Iris that he is only overseeing stormwater management.  This leaves the entire remainder of the project with NOBODY looking out for the town's interests.  And another thing, we just had a hell of a storm, and to my eyes, Ferguson was absolutely unprotected.  There is a little mesh fence delineating the 5 or so acres of serious digging into the berm, and then downhill from that is the brook.  Imagine how much of that construction debris ended up in the brook.  I hate to think about it.  Nice going Darin.

The public hearing will be good entertainment.  RUPCO personnel certainly will wear their best tap shoes and do some slick numbers.  The key will be what the planning board does with it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

134- Letter to RUPCO

I learned in last week's Woodstock Times that Supervisor Moran "estimates" that there is enough water in town, so will issue a building permit to RUPCO.  So why did DEC do all that work and issue all those instructions and conditions?  Was it for Moran to ignore? No. But he did anyway.  So here we go, using the legal system to stop Moran from another violation...  

Here is an email I sent to RUPCO moments ago, copied to the Woodstock Town Board and a couple of others, but on its way to a scroll of other recipients:

Attention RUPCO: 

 Town of Woodstock issuance of a building permit to RUPCO prior to all other permits, including the water permit, is a violation of the final resolution that was passed by the Planning Board last year, which states that no building permit shall be issued before “Acceptance of Sanitary Sewer Force Main on behalf of Hamlet Sewer District, acceptance of Public Access Easement for public access to the on-site trails, acceptance into the Town Lighting District of the Project Sponsors’ infrastructure & Acceptance of Water Main on behalf of Town Water District by the Woodstock Town Board.”

Clearly, the Town Board has not granted RUPCO the water main.  At the time of the writing of this email, at least two town board members have stated vehemently, to Building Department personnel, that issuance of a building permit at this time is prohibited.  I have been told that Supervisor Jeff Moran has stated that town attorney Futerfas will look at this issue on Friday of this week.  This can only mean that it is an issue that needs to be examined.  There is no reason for the town attorney to look into it if action will be taken prior to his examination of the issue.  

However, should RUPCO receive the building permit anyway as a result of Supervisor Moran's failure to adhere to the conditions of the final resolution, and to disregard several town board members' insistence on examining this issue and abiding by the condition to grant RUPCO the water main through a normal Town Board vote,  and instead commands the building inspector to sign the building permit, citizens of Woodstock certainly will file an Article 78 petition against Town of Woodstock, naming RUPCO as additional respondent. RUPCO will not be able to argue that this petition came as a surprise, and therefore RUPCO will be liable for all expenses incurred should it break ground as a result of a building permit issued in violation of the final project resolution, should a judge decide that the town acted erroneously and has the building permit revoked.  In other words, RUPCO will be estopped from claiming costs or arguing work underway as a defense, merely by having read this warning email.

Please note that I am away from my office right now, and so I have included only the recipients I could find easily, but be aware that this email will be forwarded to dozens of people in Woodstock, as well as posted on my blog,, momentarily.

Have a great day!!
Robin Segal

Friday, May 27, 2011

133- MisGuyded Again

The debate as to whether Woodstock has enough water to add large users continues.  There is not too much evidence supporting the "yes there is" side of the debate, so guess who dusted off some 80 year old document and drummed some up.

Yesterday in a letter to the editor to the Woodstock Times, [note: this link will not work once next week's letters are posted,] RUPCO director of Community Development, Guy Kempe, made a huge error in that he claimed that Woodstock can hook up to the Kingston water supply in order to have plenty of water to supply Woodstock Commons or whatever else the Woodstock Water District needs to hose down.

Right after the letter appeared, I received several helpful emails explaining to me that the Kingston water supply, which comes from Cooper Lake, is untreated, while the place that it is "ready" to join the Woodstock water supply is where Woodstock's water has already been treated.  Therefore, joining the two supplies without building further infrastructure such as a treatment facility or intake of Kingston water to the Woodstock treatment facility, produces only a contaminated water supply to the entire water district.

No thanks, Guy Kempe.

Also in the letter, Guy Kempe referred to my "busy law practice."  I do not know why he wrote that, since I believe he is aware that I am not an attorney.  Furthermore, I never claimed to be an attorney, and do not practice law without a license.  I have written two Article 78 petitions and filed them, clearly signing both as a pro se litigant. It is neither funny, clever, nor helpful to anybody for Guy Kempe to mislead the public.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

132- Please Ask the Town Board to Make Comments to DEC

Hello.  I have a small video submitted to run on the carousel this week, (that's channel 23, our local cable access station here in Woodstock, NY) and I post the video here as well.  It is self-explanatory, roughly an update on the RUPCO proposed project and the status of the Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) application for water for this project.

In the video, I speak about some comments that were submitted to the DEC  and I have provided some of those documents.  I am requesting that you contact our Town Board members and ask them to review these documents and tell DEC what they think about adding RUPCO's project to the already stressed water district.

You can access the documents here:

This is hydrogeologist Paul Rubin's letter to DEC (May 13, 2011,) about Woodstock's water supply and delivery capacity:

Jerry Washington's comments:

This is my letter to DEC (March 28, 2011,), along with the 14 attachments:

An additional brand new letter from Paul Rubin but without attachments:

Iris York dug up this Woodstock Times article from 2006. It's about the potential contamination of water due to the shallowness of the wells in Woodstock.

Here are the Town Board members' email addresses:
Jeff Moran
Terrie Rosenblum
Cathy Magarelli
Bill McKenna 
Jay Wenk

And, the video:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

131- Paul Rubin on Woodstock Water Capacity, Testing, with community discussion

Earlier this evening, (the evening of May 16, 2011,) thirty people at Woodstock community center were treated to a fabulous, informative talk by Paul Rubin, hydrogeologist based right here in Ulster County. The talk was followed by a lively discussion among concerned and increasingly informed Woodstock residents.

- Here is the entire video of the May 16 event, in eight parts.
- Mr. Rubin's presentation slides currently are available on his website:
- I will make an edited version of this presentation for public access TV, and may or may not post that version also on this blog.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

130- Woodstock Water Seminar with Hydrogeologist Paul Rubin: Monday, May 16, 7 PM, Woodstock Community Center

Sensible Action for Growth and Environment (SAGE) is sponsoring a presentation about Woodstock's water supply on Monday, May 16th at the Community Center.

The presenter is Paul Rubin, a hydrogeologist with 30 years experience and who has researched Woodstock's water supply.  This presentation was part of a submission to the NYS DEC that is currently evaluating RUPCO's application to attach to Woodstock's water system.

The presentation will 1) assesses what is actually known relative to the safe yield of the Woodstock water supply system and 2) concludes that it would not be prudent to add large-scale users to the system in advance of a scientifically and legally defensible safe yield determination based on empirical data collected during rigorous hydrogeologic testing.  In fact, water restriction advisories provide evidence that, at times, the existing Woodstock well field may already be stressed beyond its safe yield if water usage is not limited. The safe yield of the existing Woodstock public water supply system has never been determined in accordance with standard hydrogeologic groundwater testing procedures. 

The implications of this presentation are important not only for RUPCO, but for other proposals for expansion of commercial activity within the water district.

(This notice was lifted in its entirety from Ken Panza's email. Thank you Ken.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

129- Elsewhere in Ulster

Been reading up on surrounding towns' water laws and how they compare to Woodstock.  How about this: in Rosendale, right here in Ulster County, there are, I think, five people, all of whom live in the water district, who meet monthly to manage the water district.  These residents make the budget, and do all kinds of stuff.  As volunteers.  Meaning, Rosendale actually WANTS its concerned citizens to govern its natural resources.  In Rosendale, during a drought, it is permissible to water plants that yield fruits and vegetables for human consumption.  Also, a drought is defined by levels in certain reservoirs, the levels expressed in inches, not as a function of the eyeball of an untrained elected official.

How refreshing, Town of Rosendale!
I have one word for Rosendale's approach to water district management: sane.

The more I live in Woodstock, and the more I see how the wheels of inaction are greased to spin in futility, harnessing no productivity, the more I think that RUPCO is but one opportunistic bad bacteria in an already infected, if not rancid, human settlement, where everything is broken or well on its way to being dead, and where some voices rise in the obvious and painful last stages of an embittered passed glory.

Have a great day!
: - )

Monday, March 28, 2011

128- Empire State Law

Here, below, is some New York State Law.  It says that if an entity like RUPCO wants the town to extend the water district (since RUPCO property is not in the water district, and DEC declared RUPCO property OUT of the water district according to state law,) the entity (RUPCO) has to petition the Town Board, and then the Town Board has to vote yes or no. This is not part of SEQRA.  This is not under DEC, except that DEC declared the property out of the district.  This is just plain state law. Woodstock Town Attorney does not seem to understand that DEC's jurisdiction over this water system extension is not the ONLY state jurisdiction in existence.  There are many different jurisdictions, and they coexist and overlap.  Federal, state, local.  Water, historic preservation, health, etc.  All of these have different standards and their own processes.Town Attorney Futerfas was mistaken in writing that RUPCO's land was in the water district.  He retracted the citation of non-existent law that supported the "in the district" opinion he held.  Now, he has no reason to claim the property is in the district, yet he refuses to contend with this reality.  The property is outside the district, and that means the water district must be extended. (DEC wrote that in a letter to Town of Woodstock on March 9, 2011.)  And the following New York State law, requiring RUPCO to petition the Town Board for inclusion in/extension of the district, and a Town Board vote, is the required process.  This means that Woodstock Town Board has discretion in the decision to hook up RUPCO to town water. 

Now, isn't that rather simple?  I think it is, but Futerfas would have to admit a really big mistake if he agreed with me, in fact that "little" error he made and has since corrected is so central to his entire argument that the town's role is ministerial, that if you follow it to its logical conclusion, his whole position unravels.  Rather than have that happen, Futerfas made a motion to dismiss our second Article 78 petition, claiming that everything the Town Board does with regard to RUPCO and water is to be ministerial.  Well, that would be true, maybe, if the property were in the water district, but since it's not, the (below) state law applies.

Remember at the Oct. 5, 2010 Town Board meeting, (the one with the banjo and the singing,) RUPCO's attorney Mike Moriello stood there and said that RUPCO did not need to petition the town board for inclusion in/extension of the water district because, he claimed, the land was IN already.  Well, DEC says the land is OUTSIDE the water district. Therefore, let RUPCO petition the Town Board for inclusion in and extension of the water district, and then let the Town Board vote on it.  In Futerfas’ motion to dismiss, he never touches the in versus out of the district conflict.  He is pretending there isn’t one!

 I suggest Town of Woodstock look over this law and get some legal advice on it.  But don't use Futerfas, for he is busy covering his own backside, not the town's.

2010 New York Code
TWN - Town

§ 190. Establishment or extension of improvement 

districts. Upon a petition as hereinafter  provided,  
the  town  board  of  any  town  may
  establish or extend in said town a sewer, drainage, water, water quality
  treatment,  park,  public parking, lighting, snow removal, water supply,
  sidewalk, a fallout shelter district or  refuse  and  garbage  district,
  aquatic  plant  growth  control district, ambulance district, and in any
  town bordering upon or containing within its  boundaries  any  navigable
  waters  of  this  state,  a  harbor  improvement district, a public dock
  district, or beach erosion control district, and provide improvements or
  services, or both, in any such district, wholly at the  expense  of  the
  district;  but no water supply district shall be established or extended
  to include lands situate within the boundaries of a water  district.  No
  such  district  shall  be  established  or  extended  in a city 
[Woodstock is not a city] or in an incorporated village 
[Woodstock is not an incorporated village] 
provided, however, that  such  a  district  may  be
  established  or extended wholly or partly within an incorporated village
  on consent of the  village  expressed  in  a  local  law,  ordinance  or
  resolution,   subject   to   a  referendum  on  petition  under  section
  twenty-four of the municipal home rule law or  a  permissive  referendum
  under  article  nine of the village law, as the case may be, and except,
  in the case of a water quality  treatment  district,  on  consent  of  a
  village  expressed  in  a  local  law  or  by resolution of the board of
  trustees and not subject to any referendum.
§  191.  Petition. Except as otherwise provided in the case of a water
  storage and distribution district, water quality treatment  district  or
  sewage  disposal  district,  a  petition  for  the  establishment or the
  extension of an improvement district shall be signed by  the  owners  of
  taxable  real  property  situate  in  the proposed district or extension
  thereof, owning in the aggregate  at  least  one-half  of  the  assessed
  valuation  of  all the taxable real property of the proposed district or
  extension thereof, as shown upon the latest completed assessment-roll of
  said town; provided, however, that if there be any resident owners,  the
  petition  shall include the signatures of resident owners owning taxable
  real property aggregating at least one-half of the assessed valuation of
  all the taxable real property of  the  proposed  district  or  extension
  owned   by   resident   owners,   according   to  the  latest  completed
  assessment-roll. If a portion only of  a  parcel  of  such  real  estate
  appearing  upon  the  assessment-roll  is  situate  within  the proposed
  district or extension thereof, then the town  board  may  determine  the
  relative  value  of  the  part  thereof  within the proposed district or
  extension thereof, based upon the valuation of the entire parcel as  the
  same  appears upon the assessment-roll. Such petition shall describe the
  boundaries of the proposed district or extension in a manner  sufficient
  to  identify  the lands included therein as in a deed of conveyance, and
  shall be signed by the petitioners, and acknowledged or  proved  in  the
  same  manner  as  a  deed to be recorded, or authenticated in the manner
  provided by the  election  law  for  the  authentication  of  nominating
  petitions.     If  such  petition  shall  request  the  construction  or
  acquisition of  an  improvement,  it  shall  state  the  maximum  amount
  proposed  to be expended therefor. If the petition shall not request the
  construction or acquisition of an  improvement  but  shall  propose  the
  performance  or  supplying of certain services, it may state the maximum
  amount to be  expended  annually  for  such  services.  In  addition,  a
  petition  for the establishment or extension of a park or public parking
  district shall describe the property proposed to  be  acquired  for  the
  purposes thereof.

Friday, March 25, 2011

127- "Notice of Incomplete Application"

RUPCO's application to DEC for water hookup received a "Notice of Incomplete Application" response. Are we surprised?


First of all, RUPCO did not specify whether the Town of Woodstock was applying for an extension of the water district OR for service to the housing project as an out-of-district user. This lack of specification is a product of RUPCO's feeling that no application is really necessary at all. They just want what they want. More about these two choices (and their consequences) later.

DEC specified several things RUPCO/Woodstock need to send in. One of those things is a map delineating the NEW water district boundaries, if application is for extension of water district.

DEC told RUPCO that its previous application, which I saw, and was basically a fifteen-pounder, meaning it was a binder of papers weighing about 15 pounds, was not succinct enough. Ya think so? RUPCO likes to bury information in a lot of fluff. Apparently DEC will brook no such nonsense.

DEC noted that Woodstock's Water Conservation Program form is not complete. Want to know why? Because Woodstock has no water conservation program. Oh, wait a minute. Yes it does. The form was filled out on Wednesday, so technically I guess Woodstock has had a water conservation program for two days. Don't you feel better now? Me neither.

The most important recent information from DEC is the notice appearing in yesterday's Woodstock Times (page 22.) This notice invites comments on this project, as regards several DEC-related issues, including extension of the water district.

If you have a comment on Woodstock Commons application to join Woodstock Water District, send it to:

Rebecca Crist, NYSDEC
21 South Putt Corners Rd
New Paltz, NY 12561-1620

If you want to go to the DEC office and view the application materials, make an appointment with Rebecca Crist (845-256-3014.) This number appears in the announcement as well.

126- Woodstock Water Cartoon Time

Thanks to Michael Veitch for this.

Monday, March 21, 2011

125- BeGuyling Study

Guy Thomas Kempe has produced a "study" that is designed to show that RUPCO's land parcel is entitled to town water, even though the building site is not in the water district. I produce the body of Guy's study, without all of the land parcel and tax information, and I comment in red throughout the text.

Report of Established Precedents Concerning Town of Woodstock Water System Boundary, Bisected Water District Properties & Tax Parcels, Pertaining to Woodstock Commons

Excerpts Concerning Municipal Water from Lead Agency Finding Statement

According to the adopted Finding Statement (7/01/2010) of the Woodstock Planning Board, lead agency for the environmental review for Woodstock Commons, “the EIS addresses as follows the probable effects of the proposed development on Municipal and Franchise Utilities:”

“1. Portions of the Project Site lie within both the Woodstock Town Water District and the Woodstock Town Hamlet Sewer District. This circumstance provides the owner of the Project Site legal access to both municipal water and municipal sewer facilities subject to Town Board approval.” The sewer law provides partially included parcels hamlet sewer access.  There is no corresponding law for the town water district.  Grouping the land parcel as partially in "both" water and sewer districts is pointless.  There are separate laws for water and sewer, so no grouping has any relevance.

“2. RUPCO intends to meet as an in-district user the water supply and sanitary sewage requirements of Woodstock Commons by installing on-site improvements and off-site connections to the municipal infrastructure.” Who cares what RUPCO's "intentions" are if they are not supported by law?

“3. The Woodstock Water District operates a Public Water Supply (NY PWS No. 5503394) and serves 743 customers (i.e. metered connections) within the hamlet of Woodstock and extending from the vicinity of Bearsville on its west to The Route 375 vicinity on its east. Portions of Project Site are located within the Water District and Woodstock Commons will utilize the Water District as its sole potable water supply source.” Again, who cares what RUPCO's "intentions" are if they are not supported by law?

“The Water District secures its water supply from drilled gravel wells in the western portion of the District near the Saw Kill. As indicated in the Engineer’s Report these wells have a reported estimated combined capacity of 575 gallons per minute (GPM) [Untrue.  This was the design capacity, never tested, and never claimed.]  and estimated total safe yield of 400 GPM [Yes, in 1985.] . On the basis of this estimated total safe yield of 400 GPM and based upon 12 hours,
or 720 minutes, of well pumping per day, the estimated daily safe yield of the District’s wells is reported to be 288,000 GPD.” It does not take an engineer to point out the difference between "design capacity" and "reliable capacity." This difference is purely one of language, manipulating it to change the meaning. RUPCO changed the meaning in the water superintendent's letter, and nobody noticed... for a while. RUPCO, in the DEIS, wrote that former Water and Sewer Superintendent Kevin Hunter, in a letter about town water and sewer capacity, "indicated the safe yield of the District's wells to be about 300,000 GPD." This is a quote from DEIS Section 3.9.1.  Now let us look at the actual letter written by Kevin Hunter.  It says: "The Town's water system was designed to produce 300,000 per day."  See, taking the phrase "designed to produce" and rewriting it as "the safe yield" when the last time the water was studies is 24 years prior to the statement, now 26 years ago, is fundamentally dishonest. 

“The estimated daily safe yield of 288,000 GPD is more than twice the Water District’s reported 2005 estimated average demand of approximately 140,000 gallons per day (GPD), as set forth in the most recent annual drinking water quality statement (2005) for the District.” Again, 288,000 is not the safe yield. It is RUPCO's lie.

“The Project Site lies within the only area of the Town, the hamlet of Woodstock, within which municipal water and/or municipal sewer facilities have been made available through the creation and operation of special utility districts to accommodate the residential, commercial, civic and institutional uses either existing or proposed to be located there in accordance with Town and County land use plans and related land use and development regulations.” This does not mean that all parcels in the hamlet have legal access to these utilities.  More misleading language.

“The Woodstock Commons development will be served by the Woodstock Water District including the District’s water supply wells located near Bearsville and not draw upon the groundwater resources of the Project Site for its domestic water supply. Provision of domestic water service to Woodstock Commons will increase average daily water demand within the
District by 8.2% to 162,500 GPD and consume only 9.1% of the District’s safe yield residual supply of 138,000 GPD.” Again, this statement assumes that Woodstock is capable of producing the quantity of water that individual well tests showed in 1985.  No simultaneous well tests were conducted, and no tests have been conducted since 1985. RUPCO simply misleads, lies, and distorts facts at every turn.

Now, a word about "precedent." Guy Thomas Kempe uses this word in the title of his "study," and then once again when showing properties bisected by the water district boundary.  However, Guy Thomas Kempe fails to discuss the issue of precedent.  

Guy Thomas Kempe is completely off base categorizing activities that occurred prior to the creation of DEC as “precedent.”  Precedent is a practice that can be cited when all other conditions and laws are the same.  I could cite precedent that says that it is acceptable for women to not be allowed to vote, because it was precedent for so long and for so many women.  However, since that time, women have been granted the right to vote, and so that particular precedent is irrelevant.  It's hard to believe that I have to explain this, but apparently it is necessary...

Above all else, there IS no town law that says properties bisected by the water district automatically are entitled to service.  Somebody on the RUPCO team appears to have invented that law.  It does not matter whether the Planning Board slept through the process, the citation is simply incorrect, and even Woodstock Town Attorney Futerfas said so, finally, officially in a letter to DEC, Feb. 2011.

But more about the particulars of the properties in Woodstock that Guy Thomas Kempe says are partially in the water district, and enjoy water service:

Kempe cites all these properties that are quite old, let’s say ranch houses for the most part, built in the 1950’s or 60’s, before the creation of the DEC, and so exempt from DEC rules.  I believe the DEC and many of its rules were created by passage of the Environmental Conservation Law of 1970.  Some of these houses joining the water district could have occurred with the expansion of the capacity in 1965, when the district approximately doubled in capacity.  I do not know what laws governed district expansion then, but Kempe certainly does not report any such laws, which means he does not know what they are, OR they state that these additions were permitted.

As for applications to extend the district in the 1970’s, I am not sure Guy Thomas Kempe is equipped to know whether the water district had approved extensions to partially included districts, in the 1970’s, or on a case by case basis.  He is completely off base in trying to apply a 2005 town water law retroactively to activities about which nobody seems to know any details, that occurred in the 1970’s or earlier.   He also failed to cite town water law from the period in question, meaning the 1970’s until passage of Town water law of 2005.

Friday, March 11, 2011

124- Water Water Water (and I don't mean this rain)

Hello.  I have been busy doing research.  Here is some of what has been happening:


I found out that Town of Woodstock gave RUPCO the go-ahead to send the applications to DEC, even though DEC required that the applicant be the Town of Woodstock.  

The town, and also the Woodstock Times, has been writing about a "Joint Application," however this is the name of the application, not a description of an application with several applicants.  The application itself, if they had bothered to look at it, is designed to be sent to several agencies, for several purposes.  The functions and the recipients are the "joint" parties.  The applicant is supposed to be singular: Town of Woodstock.

To be fair, RUPCO could have prepared the documents, in the same way that an accountant prepares tax returns, in the name of the filer. However, RUPCO applied in its own name.

So, here is an example of what DEC got: In the section that was supposed to describe Woodstock's water supply sources, meaning the names, (and instructions even say to name each well,) RUPCO writes that ITS water source is Woodstock's water system!!  ("We'll turn on the tap. That's where our water is coming from.") Not really what DEC had in mind...  I have a feeling this application ain't gonna fly with DEC, in the application's current form.


The new water numbers are here!! 2010 numbers.  Remember how in 2009, 32% of the district's pumped water was lost, and an acceptable percentage is around 10%?  Remember how Jeff Moran said last September 14, that there was a broken altitude meter on the Yerry Hill Tank and that it had been repaired finally around the first of the year (that means Jan. 1, 2010)? I remember because I just watched the Town Board Meeting from that September evening.  So, given this explanation, we should see our water loss back down to about 10%, right?

Uh-oh.  2010 losses are 24.4%  Now, remember that we had a two months long water emergency.  This means that water consumption was quite a bit lower than in 2009 (actually nearly 7 million gallons, or 12% less.)  However, we still lost 12 million gallons out of the 49 million gallons pumped.  Compare that to 2008, when we lost 4.3 million gallons out of 43 million gallons pumped.  Now that the Yerry Hill tank problem cannot be factored in, and the leak detection equipment is working, where IS the missing 15%, or 8 million gallons??  (I'm talking about 8 million gallons OTHER THAN the expected 10% loss to fighting fires, flushing hydrants, etc.)

Looks to me like our water district is terribly mismanaged.


 If you look at all of this from a water district customer's perspective, we see that during the SEQRA process, the planning board did not study the water district capacity.  Neither did the town board or the planner or the town attorney or the water superintendent.  And after the SEQRA process, RUPCO and town attorney said it was too late.  This leaves the water district customer with the absence of management of his/her district in the form of studying whether there is sufficient capacity and pressure to add RUPCO's demand.

Now, RUPCO did do the analysis, they say.  Fine, RUPCO is entitled to write whatever they like. RUPCO used the DESIGN CAPACITY instead of the actual capacity.  Ours is a sixty year old water system.  There is decay, mismanagement, leaks, expansion after expansion, and it is clear that design capacity is not real capacity.  However, the town did not challenge RUPCO.  Even Kevin Hunter, the then Water and Sewer Superintendent, wrote a one page letter stating that the water system was designed to pump 300,000 gallons per day.  He did not write that this was current capacity.  In fact, he did not state what current capacity was, in 2007.  Whatever it WAS in 2007, it certainly is less now, since now we had a water emergency with demand as low as about 150,000 gallons per day, when no other town had water emergencies.

So, what's a group of water district customers to do? How about bring an Article 78 petition against Town of Woodstock, joining RUPCO and EVK Realty, LLC, (the current landowner,) to challenge town's mismanagement of water district over several years, and triggered by the consent to allow RUPCO to apply to DEC for water hookup???

Great idea, we thought.  So we did that.  Seven petitioners filed the petition on Wednesday. 
By the way, if you are a property owner in the Woodstock Water District, and also live in your property, and you feel left out, would like the town to know that you agree with us and will not stand for this mismanagement, and would like to join this petition, please email me:

More later.