SALISBURY MILLS – On a blustery and cold January Thursday, at the Schunnemunk Trailhead beneath the Moodna Trestle, Senator James Skoufis (D, Cornwall) addressed his plan to have the State DEC enforce the six stop work orders that have been issued on the Keen Equities Clovewood Project.
The public has been pleading with the DEC, saying that despite the fact that the state agency has the power to issue a $37,500 fine per day, the developer continues construction, and sensitive Schunnemunk lands are at risk.
Standing next to a big-lettered sign saying “NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW,” Skoufis vowed to keep the pressure on, saying the DEC should go ahead and issue the maximum amounts of fines.
He added that there are three outstanding permits that still have not been issued, without which construction should not be happening.
“The cease-and-desist orders issued in May, June, July, August, September, and November of 2022, prohibit any work to proceed at the site, except for steps taken to prevent soil erosion. The orders dealt with permit infractions relating to Article 11 (fish and wildlife) and Article 17 (water pollution control) of Environmental Conservation Law, the former relating to the habitat and foraging habits of a threatened species, the timber rattlesnake,” he said.
Communication between the concerned residents and the village about these matters in recent months has been complicated by absence of Mayor Kalaj since sometime in November. An email sent to him a month ago about a proposed extension of Mangin Road that would have to go through Orange County-owned Gonzaga Park goes unanswered along with a request for the path that the road would take and whether there is existing work with permits and a plan to mitigate impacts on Gonzaga views.
Not only has the mayor been absent after promising copies of a village resolution and stating that “The name has been changed,”, the village’s ward representative on the town board has also been absent more than present over the past six weeks, making transparency of the village’s activities relative to Clovewood even more difficult.
On Thursday the senator repeated comments he made in a letter to the DEC last month about the impacts the Clovewood Project would have on both the environment and existing residents, as currently planned.
“Given the developers’ flagrant violation of not one, not two, but six DEC directives to halt all work, I can’t stand by and allow these scofflaws to continue unchecked,” said Skoufis. “Today, I’m again calling on the DEC to levy the maximum possible fines against these bad actors and shut their flagrancy down. A hammer needs to be dropped on Clovewood’s developers to clearly demonstrate once and for all that they’re not above the law.”