The Town Board proposed a new wetland code in November that is so flawed and so alarming that I cannot believe they will vote on it as it stands. However, since the changes in this law would lead to increased pollution in our lakes, and possibly to degraded drinking water supplies, it’s not too early to let the Town Board know of your concerns.

Find out more, and then let the Town Board know what you think. Tell them that the water quality of the lake is important to you, and that you don’t want the board to weaken the protection of those waters and allow more algae and weeds to grow. You could also tell them that you care about safe drinking water, and you don’t want the protection of that vital resource to be diminished. Or, if you think the rules are too protective, you can let them know that too.

I’ll provide a details of a few examples where I feel the proposed changes to the wetland law could endanger our lakes. Our current law prohibits animal pens and manure storage within 150 feet of the edge of our lake. The proposed law would allow animal pens, chicken coops, and manure storage to abut our lakes with no buffer distance at all. I can’t justify allowing new sources of phosphorus next to our lakes, streams, and wetlands. The proposed code would also allow new chemical and petroleum bulk storage facilities to be placed next to lakes with no buffer, an equally perplexing provision.

The proposed law has other changes. Activities within 150 feet of our lakes and wetlands fall into different review categories. Some activities are allowed without any permit, such as repairing a dock. Other activities require an administrative permit, where an applicant meets with the wetland administrator to review the plans and get a permit. The next level is a Planning Board permit, and in these cases, the activity is put on an agenda and plans are available to the community. Some Planning Board reviews will require certified notification to neighbors and public hearings. The code proposed by the Town Board allows many more activities without any permit, and makes the majority of regulated activities into administrative permits, evaluated without any public notice or input.

I’m personally concerned about having no visibility to many activities if the new code is adopted. Today, we can easily look at the on-line planning board agenda and the proposed plans. In some cases, we have met with the applicant or developer to understand lake impacts. If these activities were administrative, no one in the community would be aware of the application.

One example that would be administrative is vegetation control in wetlands. Many of you will remember BEEP, our Brazilian Elodea Eradication Program, which called for harvesting two acres of weeds from Lake Waccabuc. While it would have been easier for me to go forward without a Planning Board review and public hearing, I feel the public (you) benefited by the open communication and discussion of the plans. As another example, it’s common for lakes Truesdale and Katonah to apply annual weed herbicides and bi-weekly algaecides to their lake waters. If someone proposed these chemicals for our lakes, the new code would make it an administrative permit. I feel that the community should have the opportunity for comment, instead of the action being approved administratively without public notice.

The planning board provided their opinion in March, and questioned the rationale for any changes, and opposed the draft code as written.  The opinion is unanimous that wetland protection needs to be continued.

You can find more details on our proposed wetland code page.

Please make your concerns and opinions known to our Town.  Thank you!