There’s been a lot of talk recently about Tuxedo Reserve and exactly what the residential housing development in Orange County means for the people of Rockland County.
Developers have told me their plan is to build nearly 1,200 single-family homes, condominiums and townhouses on 1,200 acres of land in the Town of Tuxedo, just across the Sloatsburg border.
Representatives of the builder, Related Companies, have also communicated their strong desire to connect to the Rockland County’s new wastewater treatment plant in Hillburn.
Any future decision to allow the developers to hook into our wastewater facility rests solely with our Legislature via initiation of a local law. As County Executive, I have no authority to initiate the connection. Going forward, I would urge members of the Planning and Public Works Committee and full Legislature to carefully review all available information for the facts. Much is at stake here, particularly when weighed against our fragile financial picture.
And, according to the planners of Tuxedo Reserve and our own Sewer District, here are a few of the facts offered:
· Rockland County Sewer District No. 1′s new Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant in Hillburn has more than enough capacity to handle the demands of the housing development, plus the projected demands of our residents for decades to come. (Our own sewer district personnel describe the facility as “underutilized”)
· Any potential impact to the local environment (both in Rockland and Orange counties) would be minimized by connecting to our facility – no additional construction would be necessary. It has been represented to us that the most environmentally friendly course of action is to allow the connection.
· Related Companies has offered to pay the County $2 million, plus millions more to our Sewer District.
· Unlike a few years back when the development was just a proposal, this construction is approved and scheduled to break ground. So in short, any action taken by us here in Rockland would NOT enable construction in Orange County.
My office is not advocating for or against the wastewater connection. What we DO support is that we seriously consider and weigh the potential for millions of dollars coming onto the County, with no potential harm to the landscape of western Ramapo and no stress to our treatment facility. Moreover, the one-time payment of $2 million will go toward deficit reduction, as we continue to grapple with a $145 million budget hole.
I have heard and fully understand local opposition to the project in one of the most picturesque valleys of our region. As your County Executive, I would never consent to any agreement to the detriment of our people or our environment.
Governing is often a delicate balancing act. In the case of Tuxedo Reserve, it is my responsibility to make certain our finances, our environment, and our residents get the best from the developers.