The Clarkstown Planning Board holds a public hearing on Wednesday at 7 p.m. for Orange & Rockland’s proposed substation at the intersection of South Mountain and Little Tor roads in New City. The public hearing will give the community a chance to ask questions and comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the project.
O&R has proposed a new electrical substation and upgrade to the existing gas regulator on the 10.2 acre piece of property. It would affect 3.25 acres of the parcel. Joe Simoes, principal town planner, said the planning department’s staff has been reviewing the DEIS along with experts on real estate, noise, and electrical power.
O&R plans to invest approximately $15 million to build the substation to improve the electric service reliability in the northern New City community.
According to a statement from O&R, growth in that area makes the improvement to their infrastructure necessary.
“The northern New City area’s electric service is presently provided by three O&R substations – one in New Hempstead, one in West Haverstraw and one in Congers. Due to ever-increasing electric demand, these substations are already strained to capacity. Between now and 2014, O&R predicts electric usage to continue to grow at 2.13 percent in Rockland County and in the Little Tor area, O&R predicts that growth to be 3.12 percent. The current situation places O&R and its Clarkstown customers in the vulnerable position of having minimal electric system backup should equipment fail or be damaged by harsh weather, accident or other event.”
O&R also explained he substation would take high voltage electricity from the 138kv overhead transmission wire that has been in place for decades and convert it to lower voltage electricity. The substation equipment would channel the lower voltage electricity into the electric distribution system and deliver it to homes and businesses along the street.
At the meeting, Simoes said the board will have a general discussion about the project and then listen to public questions and comments.
“They might raise a particular issue that has to be researched further,” said Simoes.
The DEIS, which was first submitted on May 26, 2010, is available on the town’s web site.
In the introduction, O&R provides a description of the site, which includes two adjacent pieces of property. The northern parcel includes a Verizon building, cellular antennae tower and existing gas regulator station. The second piece of land, which formerly had single-family cottages with septic systems and wells, was declared uninhabitable by the Rockland County Health Department. The department also identified hazardous substances on site. O&R removed the structures and remediated the property.
In the DEIS, O&R explains what the project would entail.
“The project calls for the consolidation of Lots 5 and 6, and the removal of the existing gas regulator station, on-site driveways, and 79.5-foot high tower. In addition to the proposed electrical substation and upgraded gas regulator station, proposed site improvements include: the erection of two (2) 81-foot high steel poles to replace the existing 79.5 foot high tower, an 18-foot wide by 430-foot long access driveway, stormwater facilities and landscaping to adequately screen the substation, access driveway and stormwater basin from its surroundings. In addition, a security gate and security cameras will be installed round the substation and a gate located at the access driveway entrance to limit access to the operators of the facility.”
O&R said the substation would occupy less than one acre. It projected having the substation operational and online by June 2014.
The West Branch Conservation Association, which is Rockland County’s Land Trust, has been following the proposal and expects its members to attend the public hearing. The group is holding a meeting prior to the public hearing to discuss its approach to the project.
Terri Thal, who is the group’s treasurer, said West Branch Conservation has been protecting land, watershed and culture in the South Mountain Road area since the 1970s and is responsible for the protection of more than 1,000 acres. Thal said group members have concerns about noise, leakage of oil into the stream, risk of fire and decreased property values and they do not think O&R has fully addressed those issues.
“However, the proposal to expand that substation is going to have a tremendous effect on the area that we believe O&R has ignored,” she said.
At the meeting, the board will determine if the DEIS is complete or if more information is necessary.
O&R is currently constructing a substation on Snake Hill Road in West Nyack and one on Gilchrist Road in Congers.
The public hearing will take place at Clarkstown Town Hall.