Even after a contentious public hearing and the threat of an impending lawsuit, progress on the Town of New Paltz’s proposed wetlands law appears to be still moving along. Town attorney David Gordon said that town officials are working to complete the environmental review on the proposed law – which is a late step in the process to approve an ordinance years in the works. One important question to answer about the new law deals with how extensive it will be. “We want to know how many acres there’s going to be under protection,” the lawyer explained.
The number of acres that will come under protection by the law has been a contentious point for opponents of the wetlands regulation. While environmentalists have praised the proposed law, property rights advocates in New Paltz have strong objections.
Ray Lunati, a candidate for Town Board, is among those critics of the law. During last week’s board meeting, he spoke out saying that passing the law would saddle the newly elected Town Board members with a horrible new problem.
“The yes vote will negatively impact all town properties,” Lunati said. He added that people living in the Village of New Paltz seem to want the law to pass – but it’s a law that would only impact property values in the town. “I clearly see why village residents support it.”
Town Board members have not said for sure when they’ll vote on the 43-page wetlands law, but they do seem to be nearing the end of the line.
During last week’s meeting, Town Board members met in executive session to talk with Gordon about the law. The reason cited for going into that closed-door session was that a lawsuit had been threatened against the town.
In 2007, the state Supreme Court struck down a similar, earlier version of the wetlands law on a technicality.
A map showing the areas where wetlands would be protected was on display at Town Hall. While the new law would protect wetlands throughout New Paltz, many of those shown on the map were on the eastern edge of town, near North Ohioville and Plutarch roads.