Environmental Impacts and Matinecock Court Development
The proposed Matinecock Court development will generate 155 multi-family housing units on a 14.5 acre parcel in East Northport that is currently undeveloped open space. This development equates to approximately 10.6 units per acre. The Town of Huntington Planning Board issued a Positive Declaration back in 1995 for the proposed development. When a planning board issues such declaration it automatically triggers the necessity of preparing an Environmental Impact Statement as per New York State SEQRA law otherwise known as the (State Environmental Quality Review Act). In basic terms, the SEQRA process requires the Applicant, in this case Housing Help, Inc, to explore all potential adverse environmental impacts and mitigating measures, if any, to offset such impacts.
This process typically follows a basic format to include a scoping process, the preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the preparation of a Final Environmental Impact Statement, and ultimately a Findings Statement. The scoping process is essentially a blueprint of what the Environmental Impact Statement should cover in terms of possible environmental issues at the specific location. Scoping includes public commentary which provides the stakeholders a voice as to what should be covered in the evaluation process. This evaluation process is then laid out in the form of an (EIS) Environmental Impact Statement whereby all topics described in the scoping process are studied and evaluated. Environmental Impacts are identified and mitigating measures as well as potential alternatives are discussed. The process is then finalized with a document known as a findings statement. In the case of Matinecock Court, the findings statement was formally adopted by the Town of Huntington Planning Board on October 10, 2007.
The findings statement of the proposed Matinecock Court exposes many adverse impacts to the environment. Impacts to land, plants and animals will be prevalent as the vast majority of vegetation will be removed and wildlife will be displaced. This includes the rat population which will likely disperse these species into the surrounding residential area. Impacts on traffic and transportation will also be likely as a result of the project. Most adversely affected will be Pulaski Road and Elwood Road, both of which border the parcel. This will occur through increased vehicular traffic along the aforementioned corridors. Contaminated soils are of concern regarding this site. According to the EIS such contaminants on the site include Arsenic, DDT, Copper, Chromium, Lead and Nickel. These contaminants were detected in soils on the site. Additional impacts to surface water quality will be expected as stormwater run-off impacts are increased as impervious areas are created as a result of the development. Impervious areas refer to surfaces that don’t allow drainage into the soils. Examples include streets and driveways.
The major environmental concern at this point relates to the proposed on site sewage treatment facility. This facility is currently being reviewed by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services(SCDOHS). The plant requires a variance from (SCDOHS) because the location of the plant is less then 150′ feet from various existing facilities including the Long Island Rail Road, a LIPA substation and the Northport High School Field. Present law states that the plant would need to be greater than 150′ feet from such facilities, therefore the necessity for such a variance.
An on-site treatment facility was chosen because this area is presently not on a sewer system. Both the Northport and Huntington sewer districts are too far away to connect to and would result in a financial burden to the project as costly force mains would be required for such a connection. Hooking up to other smaller facilities were considered, including the Veterans Hospital plant and Paumanack Village. The Paumanack Village facility does not have enough capacity to accept the proposed 37,500 gallons per day of sewage Matinecock is expected to produce and the Northport Veterans Hospital is too far away, which would not be economically viable.
Some legitimate concerns that could emanate from an on-site treatment facility include odor/noise impacts within the surrounding community, potential groundwater contamination, as well as the costly component of preventative maintenance required at such facilities. Other treatment plants have tried to deal with odor control without a great deal of success. Additionally in case of a catastrophic failure at the plant, such as a fire, chemical spills, and sewage overflows, an emergency action plan needs to be in place to deal with such an emergency. This is a particular concern because of the close proximity to a public school, utility and transportation systems. Waste water treatment plants typically store chemicals that are hazardous.
Residents may send letters and comments to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services regarding this proposed variance decision up until November 28th, 2011. A final decision regarding this variance change could take months. The Huntingtonian will continue to monitor this situation as additional information unfolds.