Town officials are clearing the final hurdles to create an aquifer protection law, a project that has been several years in the making. The new law is intended to regulate the types of allowed development and land use in the area of the town’s aquifer, which extends from the Bearsville Flats and is the primary municipal water supply.
Former Councilman Ken Panza presented a new map to the Town Board at its August 10 meeting which he said should be used as the final one to incorporate into the law. Originally several maps were submitted to town Planning Board for it to review as part of the proposed law and confused the matter. “And the Planning Board came back in May 2017 and said these are inconsistent and we can’t deal with it. So, at that point, the town board, put this problem on the Comprehensive Plan Committee,” Panza said.
That is when the Zoning Revision Committee was created and issues dealing with the Planning Board were assigned to McKenna as part of infrastructure, Panza said. At that time, the state announced the Drinking Water Source Protection Program, which the town joined and received assistance in identifying issues. With the state’s help, the town submitted a report on expanding the sewer system, identified an opportunity to educate people who live over the town wells and worked to consolidate the maps.
As part of the Natural Resource Inventory, the town, with help from the Department of Environmental Conservation, had a source water protection map professionally drawn. “This is not meant to establish the district. This is meant to establish a baseline,” Panza said of the new map. Since it is in GIS format, boundary lines can be easily moved, he noted.
“Ultimately, that’s part of the decision the Town Board and Planning Board will make,” he said. “With the assistance of the DEC, the Ashokan Watershed, the Ulster County Department of the Environment, the Department of Health, we can explain this map,” Panza said.
The proposed law with the new map will be forwarded to the town and county planning boards for review before final boundary decisions are made and the Town Board adopts the law.