Fulton junk yard decision put on hold
By Patsy Nicosia
Concerned that runoff from the junkyard proposed for the former Summit Shock could pollute Panther Creek, the Fulton Planning Board has asked would-be developers Judith Mills and her son, Dean Hansen, for an environmental impact study.
That request effectively puts the project on hold indefinitely-though Planning Board Chairman Peter Shulman has asked the town's attorney for a written opinion on how long the application must remain open.
Planning Board members completed their environmental review of the project on November 9.
Monday, they closed a long-open public hearing on Ms. Mills' request for a special use permit for the recycling center and scrap yard-by definition a junkyard.
And though the first public hearing drew an overflow crowd, by Monday there were just a half-dozen neighbors on hand to hear the Planning Board's decision.
Mr. Shulman explained that the Planning Board is requesting the EIS because there's information missing from the applicants' own environmental assessment, "...things we felt we needed more information on."
Specifically, Mr. Shulman said, the Planning Board is concerned that fuel, chemicals, and other hazardous materials from the proposed junk yard could drain directly down a steep slope into Panther Creek, a state-protected trout stream that empties directly into the Schoharie Creek.
"...we believe the potential for polluting the wetland and stream is possible and that if or when the contamination occurs, the impact will be large..." the Plannning Board wrote.
Planners are also concerned that that potential runoff could create a "direct danger to human health" to those eating fish caught in Panther Creek as well as to the residents of the 30-plus homes along it.
And that contamination wouldn't have to be the result of accidental mishandling of the products-something that happened when DEC contaminated the site with its sawmill-planners wrote, it could also be caused by something like Hurricane Irene or Tropical storm Lee.
If Ms. Mills and Mr. Hansen want to go ahead with their project-which they've said could also include a nursing home, medical clinic, senior housing, laundromat, and office and rental space-they will have to hire someone to address planners' concerns and how they would be mitigated, Mr. Shulman said.
Mr. Shulman said the Planning Board's request for the EIS stops the clock on Ms. Mills' request for the permit.
When she and Mr. Hansen were pursuing a similar project at the old Kivort site in the Town of Richmondville, planners there never got the requested EIS, Mr. Shulman said, and so he's asked Fulton Town Attorney Shawn Smith for a written opinion on how long Fulton needs to keep the application open.
For his part, Mr. Hansen has said repeatedly that when they bough the former prison, it came with a clean bill of health from the state.