135- PUBLIC HEARING ON RUPCO VIOLATIONS
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to hold this public hearing, and if RUPCO does not cease the violations, their work will be shut down as a result of a rescinded Special Use Permit.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.