Written by Linda Portney Goldstein, firstname.lastname@example.org Saturday, 17 August 2013 00:00
In a surprise development, North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dina DeGiorgio sent a letter on August 7 to her colleagues on the council informing them that she has asked Dejana Developers LLC to withdraw its application to develop a site on West Shore Road. “If the company refuses I am urging the Town Board to reject the company’s plan to store, maintain and repair some 80 garbage trucks at this site.” The letter does not mention the 10,000 gallon above ground storage tank that is part of the development plan.
The letter explains that she has conducted her own research, met with dozens of individual and community leaders and environmental experts, including David Jakim, an environmentalist who has been studying the wetlands adjacent to the proposed development. Jakim’s study of the area has been on going for quite some time and preceded any public notice about the Dejana project. Jakim said at the July Town Board meeting, he began the study because of the unique nature of the habitat, flora and animal life in the wetlands.
In her letter, DeGiorgio laid out her reasons for opposing the project. The $1.9 million purchase price “falls well below fair market value. Dejana would also receive special tax treatment resulting in virtually no revenue to the town. The project poses a serious risk to the over 1,000 residents of the Amsterdam and Harbor View, compromising their health, their quiet enjoyment and their property values. A portion of the project may be on wetlands that should be protected and the company was asked at the July meeting to select a date and place for a public meeting on the proposal and has yet to do so.”
Kathleen Deegan Dickson, Uniondale attorney representing Dejana, said her client “has no intention” of withdrawing the application.
“It’s a good project,” Deegan Dickson said. “There was a public request for proposals and we were selected as the winning proposal. The project was fully described in the contract that was approved by the councilwoman.”
DeGiorgio said her position throughout this conversation on the proposal has been consistent. “My feeling all along was that this was not a good fit for the area but I needed more information. This is the way I work, gather the information and then make a decision.”
In her letter, DeGiorgio makes special note of the huge number of local residents that turned out in protest for the Town Board meeting in July. “I am hoping that my colleagues on the Board defer to my recommendations on this issue since I am the local representative. That is what I normally do when matters affecting their communities come up for consideration.”
Rob Calica, President of the Harbor View Homeowners Association, expressed gratitude to DeGiorgio for her “courageous, sensible and environmentally responsible stand.”
In a letter to DeGiorgio, Calica included an initial report from an independent environmental engineering firm and alleged “what appear to be major and deliberate environmental misrepresentations and falsehoods provided to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) or to the town of North Hempstead in connection with the proposed Dejana Truck Depot project.”
In an internal memo to the ad hoc group that has formed in opposition to the project, Calica said that the initial environmental report suggests that health and environmental impact are much worse than he had anticipated.