It looks like there’s going to have to be a lot of work done to try to repair the damage done at the site of Mid-Hudson Sporting Clays on North Ohioville Road in New Paltz. Town of New Paltz Planning Board members first heard about this situation at their February 11, 2019 meeting, when they were briefed on the fact that the new owners had not only built a gravel road through a wetland, but had been allowing customers to fire guns into it, as well. That means both gravel and lead were introduced into a wetland without any authorization, and at least some town volunteers appear ready to send the message that asking for forgiveness is not a substitute for asking for permission in the first place.
“Our wetlands code is meant to be taken very seriously,” said member Amanda Gotto, who will be presiding over the review of this retroactive application. “There are substantial fines. The message is that you don’t want to mess with the wetlands.” Gotto went to on list information that had not been submitted with this application, all of which is necessary for the review: habitat assessment, vegetative cover, hydrological data and more details about possible vernal pools and the status of the existing wetlands.
Mike Nowicki, a wetlands consultant for the applicant, confirmed that these data had been sent to members of the Environmental Conservation Board (EnCB), but no one else. EnCB members had a fair amount to say after reviewing those reports, too. Ted Nitza, a member of that board, told
Planning Board members that this is a “serious violation” of the town wetland ordinance, building a gravel road without a permit and then releasing lead into the water for an unknown length of time. There is no permit that would make it acceptable to discharge firearms over or into a wetland.
According to a 2018 memo detailing the extent of the violation, three areas were affected, totaling almost a third of an acre. Nitza said that the proposal to create just over half an acre of new wetland is “unacceptable,” as it won’t “restore the hydrologic alteration caused by the disturbance of the road that now bisects the wetland.” Not requiring that the road be removed would set a precedent that such violations would be allowed to remain, environmental board members feel. The road should be removed and the damaged area restored.
Board chair Adele Ruger assured the applicant’s representatives that the status of the road is not the only issue; how to deal with the lead already in the environment must also be addressed. Nowicki agreed to meet the town’s wetlands inspector at the site to go over the specifics.