Cascino prepares expansion of Copake ‘farm’ with bigger building
COPAKE–The August 11 Town Board meeting lasted about an hour Saturday morning but touched on everything from Sal Cascino’s newest building plans to enacting a moratorium on hydrofracking and all its related activities.
Planning Board Chair Marcia Becker said Mr. Cascino’s consultant, David Wiener, submitted building plans for one project referred to in two different ways: as a hay barn expansion and composting building. The existing building to be expanded upon can be seen right across from the southern entrance to the Copake hamlet, where Mr. Cascino has an array of hulking equipment for grinding set up.
Mr. Cascino, 72, a resident of Larchmont, owns 300 acres along the east side of Route 22. He calls the place Copake Valley Farm and for the past 15 years has racked up violations of federal, state and town laws there, including charges related to illegal dumping, building and excavating without getting proper permits.
Last month in Albany County Supreme Court, Mr. Cascino pleaded guilty to a felony count of second degree offering a false instrument for filing because he failed to disclose in reports to the state Department of Environmental Conservation over three years that he had received large amounts of contaminated debris (unauthorized solid waste) at his Bronx County Recycling facility. Some of the debris ended up in Columbia County.
As part of the plea agreement with the DEC in the case prosecuted by the state Attorney General’s Office, Mr. Cascino had to give up all his permits to operate a construction and demolition (c+d) debris processing facility and can no longer operate or be associated with his waste-hauling business, Bronx County Recycling. He also can never get permits to operate such a facility again. He reportedly has sold the business.
Mr. Cascino’s new building plan in Copake is similar to one contained in an earlier application to build several massive structures submitted a few years ago. The Planning Board rejected the application after a major site plan review in 2008. Mr. Cascino appealed the decision, but it was upheld in state Supreme Court.
Mrs. Becker said by phone Wednesday, that though the latest application is technically new, the Planning Board cannot review it like it has never seen it before, but must instead go back through all the material connected with the earlier consideration of the application and review why it was non-compliant back then, including engineering and fire company reports and comments.
The total size of the expanded building will be 14,805 square feet, and the proposed addition will surround the existing building, Mrs. Becker said. New agricultural structures cannot exceed 25,000 square feet under Town Law, she said.
In his report to the Town Board at the August meeting, Building Inspector/Zoning Enforcement Officer Ed Ferratto said he met with Mr. Wiener and Mr. Cascino at the Cascino property and inspected “the farm stand and the big building” that Mr. Cascino wants to expand and determined that “the uses had not been changed.” Mr. Ferratto said he told the men that he hoped they could “develop a good rapport with the building department so we can put the animosity behind us.” The new building plan will be discussed by the Planning Board at its September 6 meeting.
Establishing a moratorium on hydrofracking and its related processes and byproducts was also on the Town Board’s mind, Saturday. Hydraulic fracturing, commonly called hydrofracking, is a method used to tap into underground shale deposits to extract natural gas.
Supervisor Jeff Nayer explained that waste water and chemicals result after having been injected into the earth to get the natural gas out. He said not only is the dumping of these byproducts a concern, but also the transport of the substances taxes infrastructure and should be included in a moratorium.
Town Attorney Ken Dow said he obtained a draft of a local law that would place a moratorium on hydrofracking from the Town of Taghkanic and he could amend it to fit Copake’s needs.
A public hearing on the local law will take place at 6:45 p.m. prior to the next Town Board meeting which has been rescheduled to Tuesday, September 4 due to a conflict with Primary Day September 13.
In other business, the Town Board:
*Heard from resident Lindsay LeBrecht, who wanted to know how much revenue the Town Court had lost as a result of abolishing the Police Department. Ms. LeBrecht also said she didn’t think the same court “support staff” was necessary in light of the decreased court activity. Mr. Nayer said that as of now, the court had taken in $16,600. At that rate, the court will come up about $10,000 short of the $45,000 it projected it would take in by the end of the year. Mr. Nayer noted that some Copake Police cases have been dismissed. He said the situation “is being looked at”
*Heard from Supervisor Nayer that $9 million in DEC grants to make repairs in the wake of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee have been awarded. Copake applied for $202,000 through the county and will receive $103,000, which will go toward the digging out of debris from the Bash Bish Creek to prevent future flooding. The grant is being administered by Columbia County Soil and Water, the supervisor said
*Heard that 50% of assessment data for the town has so far been collected by the Assessor’s Office in connection with the revaluation process. The town’s current equalization rate is 75%. Councilperson Kelly Miller-Simmons agreed to be the Town Board liaison to the assessor’s office on the property revaluation project
*Heard that Roberta Roll was named chair of the Copake Hamlet Revitalization Committee, which meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays
*Appointed Melissa Hermans, Leonard Barham and Phillip Wellner to the Ethics Board.