A major milestone in the progress of the long-awaited Williams Lake Project, proposed by Hudson River Valley Resorts, LLC for the former Williams Lake Hotel property in Binnewater, was reached on July 9. Supporters are cheering and critics crying foul as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued its Findings Statement on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) submitted by the developers, Hudson River Valley Resorts, LLC (HRVR), and accepted on May 15 by the DEC.
According to the DEC Findings Statement, “The requirements of State Environmental Quality Review (6 NYCRR Part 617) have been met…Consistent with social, economic and other essential considerations from among the reasonable alternatives available,” the FEIS “avoids or minimizes adverse environmental impacts to the maximum extent practicable.” In several places in the document, the DEC cites issues that might turn out to be environmentally or otherwise problematic, but consistently concludes that the overall financial benefit of the project would likely outweigh the negatives.
HRVR vice president and project manager Tim Allred said that “There was no change at all” from the specifications previously accepted by the DEC, nor any additional requirements mandated in the agency’s latest action. “It’s a summary of the DEIS [Draft Environmental Impact Statement] and the FEIS,” he explained. “It’s a big deal because it has been a 5 ½-year process. It has been thoroughly reviewed and approved.”
Issuance of the Findings is the DEC’s final step as the lead agency in the State Environmental Quality Review [SEQR] process that began in 2007, short of finalizing the developers’ State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, which requires the establishment of a Sewer Works Corporation as part of their Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan. Creating that entity, whose legal function is to provide for the future management of sewage at the site if the owners should go bankrupt on the project, is the next step that the developers must take, according to Allred. “We’re ready to move forward with that,” he said. “The town has to provide consent to some part of the Sewer Works Corporation.”
In addition to its role in the creation of the Sewer Works Corporation, the way is now clear for the Rosendale Town Board to take up consideration of HRVR’s request for an amendment to the town zoning law. This amendment enabling the creation of a special Binnewater Water Lakes Conservation Planned Development Area would be necessary in order for HRVR to build the 83 townhouses envisioned in the plan, since that type of development is prohibited by the site’s current zoning.