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Town of Putnam Valley v. DEC

Lead Agency Dispute

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Commissioner's Determination of Lead Agency
under Article 8 of the
Environmental Conservation Law


  • Tully/Hydropress/N-Viro
  • Sludge Processing Facility
  • Stow Road, Town of Putnam Valley

This decision to designate the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Region 3 as the lead agency for the conduct of an environmental review under the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) is made pursuant to Article 8 of the Environmental Conservation Law and 6NYCRR Part 617. My reasons are that the potential environmental impacts associated with this project are predominantly of regional importance and that DEC has the broadest powers for investigation of the potential impacts of the proposed facility.

This lead agency dispute involves the proposed construction and operation of a sludge processing facility by Tully/Hydropress/N-Viro on Stow Road in the Town of Putnam Valley. Wastewater solids, a Class I sludge, will be transported and handled at a rate of 390 wet tons per day, five days per week, from Nassau County to the facility to be converted to an agricultural lime product. The proposed site contains 176 acres, of which approximately 6.5 acres will be developed for the processing facility.

The Town of Putnam Valley Planning Board received an Application for Site Plan Approval, together with a Long Environmental Assessment Form for the Tully/Hydropress/ N-Viro sludge processing. They sent a lead agency coordination letter to involved agencies. The DEC Region 3 office responded to it and indicated it wished to assume lead agency for the project because:

1. The proposed facility is of regional importance in that its primary objective is to process sewage sludge generated over a wide geographic area with attendant widespread potential impacts that transcend Town boundaries. It is also located adjacent to the Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park which is a significant regional resource;

2. The facility requires construction and operating permits from the Department under 6NYCRR Part 360 (Solid Waste Management Facilities) and NYCRR Part 212 (Air Resources) with potential approvals required for petroleum bulk storage, wastewater disposal and transport of waste materials;

3. The Department has technical staff with a variety of professionally appropriate expertise who are capable of conducting a full and complete environmental assessment.

The Town of Putnam Valley Planning Board has requested that it be designated as lead agency because:

1. The Town believes that the anticipated impacts from the proposed action are more of a local nature and, as such, the Town is better able to address those impacts;

2. The Town indicates that the site plan approval issued by the Planning Board would be a far more detailed review of the facility; and

3. The Town states it has a Town Engineer experienced with SEQR, a staff available to support these activities and that it has always retained environmental consulting firms specializing in the review of environmental impact statements when draft environmental impact statements (DEIS) are required and would likely do so in the case of this application.

In resolving a lead agency dispute, I am guided by the three criteria, listed in order of importance, in 6NYCRR Section 617.6(e)(5). These are: whether the anticipated impacts are primarily of local, regional or statewide significance; which agency has the broadest powers for investigation of potential impacts; and which agency has the greatest ability to provide a thorough environmental assessment of the proposed action.

In consideration of the first criterion, the proposed facility may have a significant r regional impact. It is proposed to process sludge generated in Nassau County, with Westchester County and other potential generators also considering its use. The environmental suitability of alternative management strategies and facilities to handle sewage sludge from the metropolitan area of New York has major regional implications for New York State solid waste management. Also, waste transportation impacts may occur in an area not necessarily restricted to the Town. Vehicles will also be leaving the site to dispose of wastewater at a currently unknown location potentially beyond Town boundaries. The resulting impacts would transcend the Town of Putnam Valley boundaries.

The sludge processing facility would be adjacent to the Clarence Fahnstock Memorial State Park and within a quarter mile of the Park's Taconic Outdoor Recreation Center which serves as a regional center for nature interpretation and outdoor education activities for groups year-round. There exists a potential for notable visual, noise and traffic impacts upon these resources of regional significance. Future increases in its size and use would also extend the size and degree of those impacts.

Regarding the second criterion, the facility requires several DEC permits which include construction and operation permits under 6NYCRR Part 360 (Solid Waste Management Facilities) and 6NYCRR Part 212 (Air Resources). Additional approvals may be required for petroleum bulk storage (both petroleum and chemical storage), wastewater disposal and transport of waste materials. The Town of Putnam Valley retains the ability to address local impacts from the facility by the Planning Board's site plan review and approval and by its participation as an involved agency in the SEQR process.

Regarding the third criterion, the Department of Environmental Conservation Region 3 office, as the agency with statutory responsibility to administer the air and solid waste programs, has the extensive technical expertise necessary to assess the potential regional impacts of the proposed project. It also has the ability to determine and have mitigation measures implemented in areas outside of the Town of Putnam Valley's jurisdiction. DEC staff also possess a wide range of experience in the construction and operation of similar facilities and are also capable of assessing the potential for local impacts.

I conclude, based upon all the facts presented, that the Department of Environmental Conservation best serves the function of lead agency for conduct of review under SEQR for the construction and operation of a sludge processing facility in the Town of Putnam Valley.

This decision does not in any manner limit the jurisdiction of any of the involved agencies or minimize their responsibilities to review this entire proposed action and assist the DEC in the completion of the environmental review process. It is my hope that the Town of Putnam Valley Planning Board, as an involved agency, will actively participate in the scoping for the EIS and provide DEC with the necessary support to see that local concerns are thoroughly addressed.

Thomas C. Jorling
Dated: September 16, 1992
Albany, New York

Distribution of Copies:

  • William Steidle, Deputy Regional Permit Administrator, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Region 3
  • Ivan P. Vamos, Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Development,
  • NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
  • Jeffrey Shumejda, Town Counsel, Town of Putnam Valley

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:

  • Commissioner Jorling
  • L. Marsh
  • R. Cross
  • M. Gerstman
  • G. Kamaras
  • L. Concra
  • J. Sama
  • J. Stallmer
  • R. Manna
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