Village board battles with DEP over sewer extensions

By Geoff Samuels
A vote to change the wording in an amendment to section 3.07 of the sewer-use law took place at the Margaretville Village Board Meeting last Thursday night.

Section 3.07 allows NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to impose a moratorium on new sewer connections under certain circumstances. The existing law required the DEP to consult with the village prior to imposing such a moratorium, while the amended law would only require the DEP to provide notice to the village prior to shutting down work. New sewer line extensions have been slated for Bull Run, Glen Acres and Upper Academy Street for years.

At the top of the meeting, a letter from Middletown Supervisor Marge Miller was read in which she strongly urged the village board to approve the amendment. “This project must move forward,” she wrote, “and while I acknowledge that the bulk of the properties involved are in Middletown and outside the Village of Margaretville, I firmly believe that once having resolved the issue positively we are in a better position to plan and negotiate future sewer line expansions, allowing for further development of the village.”

After the letter was read, board member Fred Miller argued that in reality, the new amendment made little difference. “They can consult with us and then decide that they’re going to do it (moratorium) regardless of our objections, right…” he declared. “To be honest, I think that they’re just trying to irritate us.”

Board member Dave Budin agreed saying “I don’t think that they’ve made a compelling case that that a one-word change is going to make a difference…and I don’t feel like as board members we should be sitting here like puppets on strings…I’m going to vote in the negative.”

Board member John VanBenschoten had this to say: “I’m starting to see Dave and Bill’s point of view; They’re trying to see what they can get away with before we’re going to stand up to them and say no…how much is enough you know…We’ve already been hit and penalized with our assessed valuation…we’ve already jumped through the hoops with the sunset clause and the sewer use ordinance eight years ago.”

Margaretville Mayor Bill Stanton then told the board that at his last meeting with the DEP, “They came in and said if you don’t change the wording to this paragraph, we’re going to walk away from the project.” The mayor added, “We don’t want to hold up the project…the village residents are all hooked into that plan out there…I’m willing to work with the town and…that’s the bottom line. It’s up to these people right here to decide whether they want to go along with it or not.”

The public’s section of the meeting was then closed and the votes were cast, with the mayor giving a resounding “no” vote to make it three to two in favor of not passing the amendment. Stanton then added, “The moratorium is going to stop all new development, people…they did it once with the senior citizen housing, they’re going to try to do it again…they don’t want new development in this area.”

“We’ll see what happens,” quirked board member Iris Mead. “Let’s move on” said the mayor.
In a subsequent phone interview, the mayor reiterated, “I’m tired of going to meetings and having them tell me…change this or change that. All I want is some cooperation,” he said.