Letter From Sharon Greene
April 5, 2006

I would like to inform you of a project currently before the Zoning Board of Appeals in New Castle, NY, and seek your help in opposing it. It is of great concern due to the potential for significant negative environmental impacts if approved.

This project is on a 96 acre property in the Croton Watershed. It is owned by the Legionaries of Christ (LoC), and is situated in the town of New Castle, north of Wampus Pond, bordered by Route 128 on the west and Tripp Street on the east.

The property is within a 2 acre residentially zoned area. Currently the LoC have a special use permit for a seminary for up to 100 people in an existing building originally owned by the ‘Sisters of the Cenacle’.
The LoC are proposing a massive expansion of their site facilities to enable a seminary plus retreat center for 465+ people. They wish to build over 350,000 square feet of new buildings, two outdoor soccer fields, three tennis courts, 6 basketball courts, plus a huge gym with an indoor swimming pool. The property is a heavily wooded site and the construction of the recreation facilities, buildings, roads, and parking areas will entail the removal of many trees, infringe on wetland buffers, and affect steep slopes.

Most critically, the LoC have no viable proposed solution for the sewerage disposal. They are planning an unproven, on-site ‘drip distribution system’ on steep slopes in a meadow that drains into the Kisco River in the Croton Watershed. This meadow currently has runoff problems and is perilously close to neighboring wells. In addition, the LoC are grossly underestimating their water usage figure (claiming 65 gallons per day) to minimize the effluent they must accommodate.

To date the ZBA has let the LoC proceed through the SEQR process without clarifying their current septic and wastewater plan in the FEIS, let alone carry out any study of its potential impacts. The ZBA is assuming the department of health will be responsible for handling this. This approach has precluded the public from providing the ZBA with informed comments prior to their findings statement, since the LoC has not made public anything but sketchy information about their septic proposal.

The LoC have changed their overall proposal repeatedly over the more than 10 years that it has been before the board. They most recently changed the proposal from the seminary for 465+ people, to a Woman’s Formation Center for 250 people. Just inches away from a findings statement after completing the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), they reverted back to the huge seminary proposal.

The last version of their FEIS may still be viewed online at: http://www.rhbpc.com/

This FEIS claims they are focusing on the Woman’s Formation center, but what they are currently proposing is what they refer to in the FEIS as the ‘Revised Mitigation Site Plan’.

The New Castle Zoning Board of Appeals is currently deciding on how to proceed with the proposal, given that the current FEIS is now deficient due to the LoC’s change back to the larger expansion proposal.

I am an abutting neighbor to this property. All the neighbors in the area have a host of issues with this application. I would be happy to tell you more about the project. Any assistance or information would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely yours,
Sharon L. Greene, PhD
914 666-5498