Town holds off on increased water regulations

esopus bend SQA proposed local law on water resources in the town of Saugerties has been tabled following questions raised at a public hearing on April 25.

Councilwoman Leeanne Thornton said the number of questions and criticisms of the proposed law raised at the hearing led the Conservation Advisory Committee to table it for further revision.

At the Town Board’s regular meeting on May 8, resident Jim Uhl offered the board a map showing state Department of Conservation wetlands and federal wetlands with the 700-foot buffers the law requires drawn around them. The total nearly covers all the land area in Saugerties. The map does not include vernal pools, which the law also protects, Uhl said. He described vernal pools, amphibian breeding grounds which form as a result of rain and snowmelt, as “basically mud puddles.”

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“I don’t believe we have problems with polluted water in Saugerties,” Uhl said.

Councilman Fred Costello challenged that statement, noting the town recently spent millions of dollars installing water and sewer lines on Kings Highway because groundwater in the area was contaminated. However, Costello agreed, overall Saugerties has an excellent water supply.

As the board discusses conservation plans, “we’re going to get a reputation like Woodstock and New Paltz, and nobody will want to bring business in here,” Uhl said. “Our tax problems will get even worse.”

The Conservation Advisory Committee met following the public hearing and decided to table the plan for further revision based on the many comments it received, Thornton said. “They agreed there were several comments made that really drove home the points about the size of the area around vernal pools. They cited especially Mr. [Bill] Schirmer’s comments, Mr. [Paul] Andreassen’s comments, and they decided that there are parts of that ordinance that have good protection for water resources… they decided to table it, to take the public comments under consideration, take some things out, and eventually it will probably come back for the board to review and maybe another public hearing.”

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