100 Ideas for New Paltz

6. protect wetlands in the village

Posted in environment, planning and construction, stormwater, wallkill river, zoning by Jason West on June 12, 2009

Protect the environment and reduce flooding by passing a wetlands and watercoures protection law. Much of the work on this legislation has already been done.

In 2005 I revised the wetlands law passed by the Town to fit the needs of the Village – notably strengthening the enforcement provisions by eliminating the option to pay a fee in order to mitigate damage to wetlands.  I brought that law to the Village Board, where Michael Zierler suggested that we set up a task force to review the law and see if it met the village’s needs and if, in fact, we needed a law at all.  That task force – made up of myself, Colin Apse of the Nature Conservancy, Rachel Lagodka of the Environmental Commission and Laura Heady of the Hudson River Estuary Program – unanimously recommended that a local law was our best option for protecting wetlands.

Simply put, the law requires that anyone who wants to build near a wetland has to have that wetland checked out first — if there is no harm in building whatever is in question, then the project goes through the normal process.  If there would be harm to the project, the project has to be redesigned to avoid that harm, or the person in question can’t build what they want.

In order to find where there may be wetlands, we hired Hudsonia, Ltd to perform two wetland habitat assessments – one for the proposed Millbrook Greenway area, and one for the village as a whole.  Hudsonia’s maps showed several areas of the village where there were potentially important wetlands complexes — on the Woodland Pond/Stoneliegh Woods properties, along the Wallkill River, especially the Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary and around the Rail Trail south of Water Street and others.

Due to criticism that the law could be difficult to understand procedurally, I created a simple flow chart to guide prospective builders through the process.

Finally, in order to make sure there were no unnecessary hoops for builders, I wrote a seperate Wetlands Protection Overlay District law that made sure that the wetlands law itself only applied to specific properties.  Those properties were the ones that had potential wetland, streams, river or buffer area somewhere on the property, according to Hudsonia.


7. limit the properties affected by a wetlands law

Posted in environment, public health, stormwater, wallkill river by Jason West on June 12, 2009

Reduce the number of properties affected by a Wetlands Law by passing a Wetlands Protection Overlay Zone made up of only those properties which have potential wetlands, watercourses or buffers on them:




Section 1.    The Village of New Paltz Code, Chapter 210 shall be amended to add the following:


Wetlands Preservation Overlay District
§     Title.

This District shall be known as the New Paltz “Wetlands Preservation Overlay District” and can be generally referred to as the “Wetlands Preservation Overlay District.  (WPOD).”
§     Intent and Purpose.

The WPOD is intended to implement the policies in the New Paltz Comprehensive Plan in conjunction with the recently completed studies of Hudsonia, Inc., and to promote, preserve, and enhance important aesthetic, biological, ecological, hydrologic, and recreational functions provided by the Village’s streams and rivers, as well as to protect life and prevent property damage from flooding.  It is therefore the purpose of these provisions to establish a Wetlands Preservation Overlay District that encourages planning and development of land that will protect and preserve designated areas.  The WPOD is specifically intended to:

1. Regulate and provide reasonable controls over the land use, siting, and engineering of all development to be consistent with the intent and objectives of this section.

2. Recognize that the protected natural features contribute to the welfare and quality of life of the Village of New Paltz residents.

3. Improve and maintain the water quality and minimize the addition of pollutants deposited in protected watercourses through the natural capacity of the riparian areas to filter stormwater runoff.

4. Comply with federal and state water quality and wetlands regulations.

5. Preserve and protect the natural state and scenic values of the protected watercourse areas and the Village of New Paltz.
§     Application.

The Wetlands Protection Overlay District encompasses all parcels within the Village of New Paltz which     contain all or part of a wetlands, wetland buffer, watercourse or watercourse buffer as designated on the     official Wetlands Protection Overlay District Map
§     Official Maps.

The boundaries of the WPOD shall be delineated on the official Village of New Paltz maps.
§      Permitted Uses.

1. The uses and restrictions in the WPOD are supplementary to, and do not replace, underlying established district use and bulk regulations.

2. In the event that this provision conflicts with any requirement or provision in the underlying district, the more restrictive requirement or provision shall apply.

3. Those uses outlined in §210-8, §210-9 and §210-10 of the Village of New Paltz Wetlands and Watercourse Protection Law shall be allowed in accordance with the procedures set forward in the Village of New Paltz Wetlands and Watercourse Protection Law
§     Prohibited Uses.

Those uses outlined in §210-6 and §210-7 of the Village of New Paltz Wetlands and Watercourse     Protection     Law shall be prohibited and/or regulated  in accordance with the procedures set forward in the Village of New     Paltz Wetlands and Watercourse Protection Law
§    Special Permit Uses.

1. The Zoning Board of Appeals shall seek the advice of the Wetlands Inspector when making its determination as to whether to grant a request for a special permit.

2. The Zoning Board of Appeals must condition any such special permit granted to insure that such use shall not conflict with the Village of New Paltz Wetlands and Watercourse Protection Law.

3. The following uses may be permitted in the WPOD by special permit:

1.    Marinas for non-powered boats, public and private boat entry points.

2.    Structures or uses required for the operation of a public utility, such as utility rights-of-way and crossings.
§    Inspection, Enforcement, and Penalties.

1.    Inspection.  Lands within or adjacent to a designated WPOD will be inspected by the Wetlands Inspector when:

i.    A subdivision or site plan is submitted.

ii.     A building permit is requested.

iii.    A change or resumption of a nonconforming use is proposed.

iv.    A written complaint alleging a violation is submitted to the Wetlands Inspector.

2.    Enforcement.

i.    Any person may submit a written complaint to the Wetlands Inspector alleging a violation of the WPOD.

ii.    Upon receipt of the complaint, the Wetlands Inspector shall conduct an investigation of the complaint including, but not limited to, a site inspection and meeting with the property owner.

3.    Penalties.

Any violation of the WPOD must cease upon a determination that a violation has occurred.  If upon written notification to the violating party, that party does not cause the violation to be discontinued, the fines shown in subsections (i)-(iii) below will be additionally assessed for each day thereafter until the violation  ceases.

Monetary fines shall be assessed for violations as follows:

i.    Level One.  ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($1,000) for violations that are easily correctable and have not resulted in any adverse affect on the water quality of the designated wetland area.

ii.    Level Two.  TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS ($2,000) for violations that have resulted in an adverse effect on the water quality of the designated wetland area.

iii.    Level Three.  FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS ($4,000) for violations that are deemed a flagrant abuse of the WPOD and have a serious affect on the quality of life and environment of the WPOD and surrounding area.

41. fix the springtown road boat launch

Posted in parks, wallkill river by Jason West on June 11, 2009

Invest in the Village-owned land and boat launch on the west side of the Wallkill River off Springtown Road. The boat launch is eroded into a very steep, greater-than-forty-five-degrees.

98. plant a buffer along the Wallkill River

Posted in agriculture, environment, wallkill river by Jason West on June 11, 2009

Work with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Agriculture and Markets and the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District to plant a one hundred foot buffer area along the length of the Wallkill River in order to reduce or eliminate soil erosion and agricultural runoff of nutrients, fertilizer, etc.