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Welcome to the Citizens for the Preservation Of Woodbury Website.



March 14, 2009

Dear Editor,


            I would like to thank all those who came out to vote in the Village of Woodbury election. I especially thank the voters who voted for the Preservation Team; Ben Meyers, George Pedersen and Fred Ungerer.


            This election was riddled with misleading and outright misrepresented and undeliverable promises by the Common Sense Party. However, around 65 percent of the voters were able to see through the smoke and mirrors, with the Common Sense Party candidates being elected with around only 35 percent of the votes, clearly not a mandate!


            Actually, there are 6,350 registered voters in the Village of Woodbury, with 1,298 voting in this election, about 20 percent, with and average of 470 voting for the Common Sense Party candidates. This means about 7 percent of all village registered voters elected the new Mayor and two Trustees.


            This tells all of us that staying home and not voting, is not a good idea. Why let the few tell the many how our village should be governed.


            Keep an eye on your Village Board and make them Accountable to you!


Ralph Caruso, Chairman


Citizens for the Preservation of Woodbury

Ralph Caruso, Chairman

P.O. Box 211

Central Valley, NY 10917


                                                                                      March 14, 2009


To Ken Hall,

Editor, THR


Confuses Woodbury Voters


This letter is in response to a letter March 14th by Mr. Swiller, who continues his attempt to be an illusionist! He writes the Preservation Party slate wrote in a, “My View” on March 11th   “The assumption that our village was formed to prevent annexation by Kiryas Joel is false”.  Swiller wrote, “They’re right it is false”. He fails to quote the next line by Preservation Party slate, “Our village was formed to prevent the formation of other villages in the Town of Woodbury.” Swiller writes, “…they went out of their way to avoid leaving a paper trail.” He conveniently omitted the Preservation Package containing 8 pages, full with all the Preservation Group’s proposals, clearly spelled out. Swiller can refresh his memory with the content by going to our Web-Site www.preservewoodbury.org, where it has been posted, for a long time. Swiller bases his accusations upon his statement, “…it is fair to infer.” When one infers, they are making “conclusions that are suggested or presumed”. Double shame Mr. Swiller for continuing to misdirect, mislead and confuse our residents in the Village of Woodbury. Your biased self interest is showing!


                                                          Ralph Caruso


                                                      Citizens for the Preservation of Woodbury



Voters acted wisely when they created the Village of Woodbury


We would like to respond to the March 5 editorial titled "The Woodburys look for ways to save money." Our response is based both on what was said and how it was said.

The assumption that our village was formed to prevent annexation by Kiryas Joel is false. Our village was formed to prevent the formation of other villages in the Town of Woodbury.

At the time of the vote, there was great discord and fear among the citizens of Woodbury. The fear of a neighboring community forming a village within our borders, real or imagined, was a fear of the loss of control over zoning. If this happened, residents of either the hamlets of Highland Mills or Central Valley might have then incorporated as villages in response to this encroachment. Woodbury would then have several smaller villages within its borders and would have resulted in a huge fragmentation of costs, services, property values and governments.

It was felt that one village would be best to prevent what you call "so many overlapping governments." We knew then, as we do now, that a village does not protect against annexation. Annexation is an issue for the courts.

As far as "paying a price" and talk that it "would not cost any more" for the decision, did anyone who voted for the village think that it would be free? We doubt it. We all knew that there was a price tag attached to this. Anything of value has a cost. The goal is to keep costs to a minimum.

To respond to your quote that the vote was "misguided," we say, "Not so fast!" The village has been in existence for less than three years. Can you unequivocally say that we would be better off today if we had not formed a village two and a half years ago? Can you state with certainty that no other group, either within or outside Woodbury, would not have incorporated as a village?

Can you honestly say that the village has not had any benefits for Woodbury? We have not been around long enough to prove a point one way or the other. Woodbury voters did what they thought was best. The fact remains, however, that we now have a village, and we will deal with it the best way that we can.

Ben Meyers, Fred Ungerer and George Pedersen live in Highland Mills.


Quitting is not an option
Viewpoint - Cornwall Local Friday, June 27, 2008

To the Editor,
Friends, we recently learned that Mr. Brodsky, owner of Woodbury Junction, whose Woodbury development benefited from Woodbury's new zoning laws, (increasing development from 170 to 471 homes) recently presented his data on children generation in a closed door meeting in Cornwall.            
Our Town Leaders were pre-warned of such data. Nancy Browner, agent for The Reserve (in New Windsor) refused to share the data collected by construction workers of Legacy Ridge and Woodbury Junction, on children generation for 4 bedroom homes.
We also walked, Chadeayne Woods, Mill Street Estates and the Reserve, and became aware that the information was flawed and unusable! Over 80 percent of the homes were not responsive, doors and garages were locked! A joint effort of verifiable data can be collected together by citizens and developers.
We provided documentation to the Town Board and The Cornwall Local of a $35,000 account set up by the Town of Woodbury, equally funded, by Mr. Brodsky and Legacy Ridge on June 8, 2006 to defeat Woodbury Planning Board member, Siebold's Article 78, and guarantee the creation of Woodbury High Density Laws to feed the developers at the expense of Cornwall and Woodbury schools taxpayers.
We were informed that the agreement between Brodsky and. Legacy Ridge was engineered by Woodbury's former supervisor Sheila Conroy. Her stonewalling for almost two years, of the subdivision efforts of the Nature Conservancy, previous owners of the station property (now partly Woodbury Junction), attempt to provide,
Friends, early on we presented some details of Woodbury's strategy plan, to protect Woodbury from its neighbors. Now we know it was only a diversion to aid in the creation of High Density Laws in Woodbury! The Nature Conservancy following a court order would have created an OPEN SPACE ZONE without hi-density developments! Preventing oppressive school taxes in Cornwall and Woodbury!
It is now up to Cornwall elected leaders. The fire in their belly, and the steel in their back, will be tested! Quitting is not an option! Know that Cornwall district taxpayers will stand by you, as they did stand by the 1984 Town Board, in what many thought was a hopeless fight against Woodbury, seven Towns (part of the Harriman treatment) and against the Attorney General of NY, defending NY State DEC. As a result, The Woodbury Creek, The Moodna, Cornwall and New Windsor, are not the recipients of over 2 million gallons of daily effluent!  
Anthony Incanno, Cornwall

What are KJ developers' plans for Cornwall?
Viewpoint - Cornwall Local Friday, June 27, 2008

To the Editor:

In writing this follow-up letter about the threat to our community by the developers of Kiryas Joel I want to emphasize that this is NOT about religion. It's about TAXES ... and the quality of life in our communities, both the Village and the Town.

It is true that realtor Win Morrison denied he was a "front" for the developers of Kiryas Joel (see Local, June 13, 2008)  after he approached a number of property owners in the Town telling them that a developer was interested in purchas­ing their properties. Not so long ago Ace Farm in Monroe was sold to an individual who had no ties with the Hasidic Sect and within a week the farm was sold again. You guessed it, to Kiryas Joel developers.

The fact is that it is very easy to set up a series of corporations until there are so many layers that it is difficult, if not impossible, to learn who the real owners may be. Even if the seller of property may be interested to know who the purchaser is, he or she may not actually find out until long after the deal is closed. And there is this: Why are potential sellers being offered more than their property is worth?

What is the possible outcome? Another Canterbury Green (eyesore project next to CVS)? We should all have a question for the developers of Kiryas Joel and the question is: What are your intentions insofar as the Town and Village of Cornwall are concerned? I do doubt that if we even get an answer, that it will be one we can rely upon.

We must increase our tax base so taxes do not increase. It is not just Senior Citizens any more who are having a tough time in this economy; but it is families of all ages (see Times Herald­ Record, June 22, 2008). A trolley from the Village to the Town is not the answer. If you are concerned and want to see reasonable develop­ment, the time is now to talk to the Town and Village Officials.

Peter X. Neuman



Rumors on Quaker Avenue
When a Kingston-based real estate agent contacted several property owners on Quaker Avenue, people wondered what was happening. Was the man really representing an unidentified developer or was he secretly connected to Kiryas Joel?
The agent, Win Morrison, soon became aware of the suspicions, and he was obviously distressed. "My reputation is very important to me," he told the Local; "I will guarantee in what ever ways I have to that I have no affiliation with Kiryas Joel." The inference was that he wouldn't claim to represent one party while secretly negotiating on behalf of someone else. See today's Local for details.


If we don't act, we'll have to educate 750-1000 new kids.
As printed in the Cornwall Local-March 28, 2008

Dear friends and neighbors:

An old timer from Woodbury recently educat­ed me on the "Woodbury Development Battle Plan."
The story begins with the sale of Ace Farms (on Woodbury's southern borders) and its immediate flip to residents, with the Village of, Kiryas Joel. The Village of Woodbury was formed out of fear of its neighbors, and its new members took over most of the duties and powers of the Town Board. The Master Plan, adopted in 1988, was immediately revised, along with other zoning regulations.                        

It is interesting that the Village of Woodbury became the guarantor of two projects  financial  feasibility by legislating a significant density bonus. Woodbury Suburban, (name was changed to Woodbury Junction), increased its original proposal from 148 to 451 homes by rezoning from RA2 to RA1. Legacy Ridge increased its original proposal from 141 homes indicated on the DEIS page 38, to the current maximum of 313 four-bedroom homes. The two projects are linked by the need of a water loop. The water supply for Woodbury Junction is three wells located in north Woodbury described in the DEC permit dated December 29, 2006. The crown jewel of this plan is Legacy Ridge. The only way the water will get from the north end of town to the south end (where Woodbury Junction is), is if the water pipes and water tanks are built on the Legacy Ridge northern parcel.

The Eleanor Seaman Trust sold two parcels (93.4 acres and 40.2 acres) to Family Fun LLC in Pomona, NY for $750,000. Family Fun sold both parcels to Legacy Ridge of Livingston, NJ for $550,000 ($200,000 less). Legacy Ridge donated three acres (containing two well sites near Route 32) to the Town of Woodbury to satisfy DEC permit regulations for approving the Woodbury Junction zoning variance. The remaining combined 128.6 acres were then transferred to Northern Ventures LLC. This parcel is also in the Cornwall Central School District.

What is going on? Well, this is where Cornwall is sacrificed on the developer's altar of greed built by oppressive taxes on the backs of Cornwall school district taxpayers.

Woodbury protects its southern borders by full development. The developers increase ten­fold their profits. Woodbury controls the water source, preventing a flip (as before with Ace Farms), and in the process creating revenue sources from the sale of water to approximately 1000 to 1500 future homes, a majority of which will be in the Cornwall Central School District, which will become responsible for educating possibly 750 to 1000 new children.

Friends, I have done my part. Now it is up to the BOE, the town and village boards and New Windsor.
Be at the next Town Board meeting the first Monday in April- April 7 at 7:30 p.m.




Anthony Incanno






Let's join forces to fight Legacy Ridge
As printed in the Cornwall Local-March 14, 2008

To the Cornwall Board of Education:

I would like to say thank you to Mr. Brendan Coyne for defending the Cornwall schools at the February 26 meeting in Woodbury. Mr. Coyne spoke about the schools  reaching capacity in the near future. He also stated that it will be unlikely for the district taxpayers to approve an expansion program for new schools.

Fully aware that Legacy Ridge will bankrupt the school district, I asked the Village Board to the school district, I asked the Village Board to require Legacy Ridge to build Cornwall a school, or, if that was not possible, and the Board believed the sponsor lawyer and the data he presented, predicting to produce higher rev­enue than costs, then Woodbury should expand their school district to Cornwall borders, so that all that surplus money could go to their school district.

The Cornwall Local editor Margaret Menge asked Gerry Jacobowitz (the developer's lawyer) if Legacy Ridge would build a school to educate the school children generated by Legacy Ridge. "No. Because there's no evidence that it is needed" responded Mr. Jacobowitz. Well his reply is just lawyer talk. The Legacy Ridge data provided during the SEQRA process in the FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement) on pages 62 and 63 states the following: "The excess net revenue produced by this project will be favorable to the Cornwall school district RATEPAYERS both in the Village of Woodbury and ELSEWHERE in the District and will help to fund the DEBT SERVICE FOR CAPITAL FACILITIES EXPANSION that is NEEDED to accommodate both the existing and future students of  the district. Woodbury residents spoke about the lack of adequate water sources for Legacy Ridge. They stated that the Seaman Wells and other water sources would not be able to provide the needed capacity to supply previously approved developments lacking a reliable water source and Legacy Ridge. Another Woodbury resident informed the public of an additional 167-acre lot waiting for the Legacy Ridge water loop to be developed.

I recall reading in the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) about this large tract of land, and the Board replying that it was not provided information about future projects. I believe that these projects are within the Cornwall school dis­trict!!!! Well Superintendent Rehm, members of the Board, do the Math!! !! Over 1000 school children will be added to the Cornwall school district if we do nothing. Most of the information I have presented is part of the EIS. Selected data from the EIS is included in the FEIS, accepted by the Village Board of Woodbury on the same day of publication of the Final Environmental Impact Statement, on January 8, 2008. On Tuesday, March 11, 2008 or shortly thereafter, the Village Board of Woodbury will approve the required zoning changes unanimously or with a Super Majority (4-1), aware that they are selling Cornwall a Brooklyn Bridge!

The strategic plan is good! But it is their plan! And the world does not end at Woodbury borders! Orange County Department of Planning has given Cornwall Legal Standing in their reply to the Village of Woodbury's proposed zoning changes required by the Legacy Ridge project. In a letter received by Woodbury on March 3, 2008, the county reviewed the zoning changes, reinforced earlier concerns identified in the EIS, and again criticizes the methodology utilized to determine fiscal impact for Legacy Ridge to be deficient for many reasons. First, it (the FEIS document) underestimates the number of potential school children attending the Cornwall school district and, secondly, it overestimates the potential average assessed value of future homes in Legacy Ridge. In so doing, the calculation for fiscal impact erroneously shows that Legacy Ridge homeowners will be paying a net surplus in school taxes when in fact there will be a net deficit! It is also important to note that under the section: Summary of Proposed Actions and Projects, the following: "The implementation of the Conservation Cluster Overlay Regulations would further increase the number of permitted dwelling units from 220 to 313 (maximum) if 40 percent or more open space is preserved."

To protect and represent the taxpayers of the school district, we ask that the members of the school board join the public and the board members of the Town of Cornwall and the Village of Cornwall on Hudson in bringing an Article 78 against the Village of Woodbury, to prevent fiscal damages to the Cornwall school district, and prevent future oppressive taxes to the district taxpayers! Orange County has provided us with the tool necessary to defend Cornwall schools: The rest is up to us. Everyone must be aware that time is of the essence. New York law requires that an Article 78 be filed within a short period of time after acceptance of the FEIS. The clock is running! Ladies and Gentlemen of the board united we can be successful! In 1984 the public united with the Town Board successfully defended against Woodbury, Orange County and New York State to prevent the discharge of 2 million gallons of effluent a day to the Moodna Stream. United we can be successful again.
Please do not hesitate to call me if anyone requires additional information.



Anthony Incanno






We have to protect Cornwall from unscrupulous builders.

As printed in the Cornwall Local-March 7, 2008


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I regret to inform you that our Moodna Stream, our school district and Cornwall water are in danger of being overwhelmed by a strategic development plan, formulated by developers and a group of Woodbury residents at the expense of the Cornwall School District taxpayers and residents. A flood of 600 new students is possible, from the new Legacy Ridge development alone, and will require new schools, financed not by the builders, but on the backs of Cornwall district taxpayers.

The public should know that members of the Village Board of Woodbury did knowingly adopt an incomplete and flawed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This is in violation of the SEQRA law with prior and full knowledge that 'certified letters sent to the Board following the December 11, 2007 public meeting were being lost by the United States Postal Service, as a result of false and incorrect Lead Agency Contact information contained in the EIS provided by the Legacy Ridge project sponsor for public use at the Highland Mills public library. Our elected officials must know that Legacy Ridge is the CROWN JEWEL responsible for building the water line infrastructure required, not only for Legacy Ridge but also necessary for the development of adjoining' properties! Curiously some of these properties have already cleared the SEQRA process, lacking a reliable water source! It seems that  the Legacy Ridge SEQRA process is just window dressing.   


With all the development taking place around and within Cornwall, this is a time that will test the knowledge, the fire and the steel of our elected officials, (Town, Village and BOE), as they carry out their chosen duties to protect Cornwall’s economical and natural resources from unscrupulous builders.

It is time for our elected leaders to carefully review our legal options. I am sure they are already on top of this situation. United we have successfully defended our area from this happening and unreasonable risks from Woodbury in the past United we will not fail to do so again, for the world does not end at Woodbury's borders.

We ask that our neighbors to the south perform a Cumulative Damage Assessment study for the Moodna Stream to protect Cornwall from harm.




Anthony Incanno




The return of Mike Aronowitz
Published: January 3, 2008
The Photo News
To the editor:

Yes, I hope that Mike does return to the political scene. Past elected officials in Woodbury have just faded away. It takes a special individual to enter today’s political environment, one filled with disrespect and attacks (often anonymous) from those who never will step up to the plate and run for office.

I served for several years with Mike on the Woodbury Parks Commission. Mike showed talent and was able to get his message across. I contributed to and supported his first campaign.

As for his second campaign and the “flier” incident - politics, unfortunately, is and always will be dirty. However, Mike lost my vote, and I believe the election, because of his failure to adequately explain to the public his position change on Woodbury Junction.

Fred Ungerer

Highland Mills

Saturday, January 05, 2008
The return of Mike Aronowitz

Fred I have complete respect for you that you didn’t support me because of my vote on WP3. You also showed guts not signing it “anonymous”. What I don’t understand is why the three of them didn’t want to campaign on issues but rather make up lies about me after we all shook hands and said we wouldn’t do that.

Mike Aronowitz
Life in Woodbury 2007

What was all that cheering about in Woodbury?
News July 21, 2006

To the editor:
Last week, Woodbury Town Board member Michael Aronowitz reversed his 2005 decision and voted to approve both the Woodbury Suburban housing plan and the five town laws that enable it and any number of other possible massive residential developments in the town. The board’s action was required after a judge ruled against Town procedures and sent the matter back for re-vote.
Upon the 4-1 vote in favor (Supervisor John Burke voting “No”), a number in the audience let go with loud applause and cheers.

But what did they have to cheer about?

For one, they may have been pleased that, while so many Orange County communities are busy establishing strong and sensible policies and practices to preserve open space, Woodbury has, by the board’s vote, signed over responsibility for setting aside “forever-green” lands on its largest open parcels to developers - all part of an open space law that is muddy, unenlightened, and weak on several counts.

And consider this: At the very moment that Sheila Conroy, former Woodbury town supervisor and once the driving municipal force behind Woodbury Suburban and its laws, was speaking before the County Legislature with an appeal to prevent the construction of water storage tanks on county parkland (Gonzaga) in Woodbury, the Woodbury Town Board was sitting down to approve Ms. Conroy’s open-space law that, in specific terms, encourages developers, working in concert with the town, to use a development’s dedicated open space for accessory components and structures - including, you may guessed, water tanks!

Or, supporters of Woodbury Suburban may be pleased that the senior housing component of the plan and its enabling laws bubbled to the surface without any recent analysis of the town’s need for high-cost, densely built, semi-attached senior units-and with only weak provision for holding the developer’s feet to the fire to actually sell those units to senior citizens.

Maybe they are pleased that these town laws can be - and certainly will be - applied to every large vacant parcel of land. In theory, that includes the acres - in the thousands - of Arden House property owned by Columbia University; acres whose future is now cloudy as Columbia prepares to leave the property behind.

And maybe the cheering residents are pleased that the town board nearly unanimously rejected the uncharacteristically strong rebuke that the county’s expert planners brought against the suitability of the Woodbury Suburban plan.

Maybe the cheers were for an entrance and exit road for Woodbury Suburban’s 450 or more homes that will be placed directly across the street from the main entrance to Monroe-Woodbury High School.

Maybe supporters like the idea of how a bloated, dense development is going to succeed in a softening housing market.

And, again, maybe the cheering section was pleased to be reminded that the developer of Woodbury Suburban was encouraged to keep the bed warm by picking up the tab for the town’s portion of the defense of the lawsuit brought against Woodbury Suburban and its laws - and that the town would have been pleased to have that developer pay for an appeal of the lawsuit had the Board vote not gone as it did last week.

There is reason to cheer, too, if you are pleased that a development plan concocted with the idea of protecting the town has a good chance of being its ruin anyway. And cheer if you like the idea that your elected officials have their feet on the accelerator while someone else is steering the wheel.

For those who were not cheering on the evening of July 6 - for those who had instead cheered Mr. Aronowitz last November when he voted against Woodbury Suburban and its high-density laws - his declaration the other evening that “things have changed” since his first vote on this matter is a puzzling and disappointing one. The spectacle of his mumbled vote was remarkable mostly for how it lacked conviction. He said not one audible word about what had changed other than his conviction, and he hasn’t said so since, even though I directly asked him to make himself accountable to the community.

But in Woodbury, Mr. Aronowitz might be forgiven for thinking no one could hear him, anyway, above the cheers of those who must now be happy to live with the consequences of a bankrupt, ill-fitting strategy for the community’s future.

John Baranowski
Central Valley

My View



This letter is in response to 3 Times Herald Record articles by John Sullivan 1-1-2008 , 1-29-2008, & 2-7- 2008. Link .

John Sullivan, Times Herald Record reporter wrote “Wonder who’s laughing now.” Appointing Lorraine McNeill to the Planning Board by Village of Woodbury Board Members, knowing McNeill’s history of voting to approve zoning changes creating high density development and as a member of the Zoning Board approving a 5 story hotel, is no laughing matter, flying in the face of those residents who voted against her in Nov. 2007. 

It’s interesting that the last three Republicans to lose office, Ms. Conroy, Mr. Aronowitz and Ms. McNeill, blame everyone else but themselves for their loss. When Mr. Aronowitz ran for the Town Council for the first time in 2003, he ran on a platform of protecting our zoning, fiscal responsibility, improving traffic congestion, and quality of community life.  I, designed and prepared all his campaign materials based on his stated positions, and he won! I have prepared campaign materials for Ms. Conroy, Ms. Gianzero, and other Republicans who had similar campaign positions, only to see them abandon their promises given to our Woodbury residents. I helped numerous Republicans that held office in Woodbury, since the early 1970’s, with many keeping their campaign promises, and some not, as is evident.  

It is offensive to see accusations made attempting to implicate Republican Committee Members with a democratic campaign flyer distributed in Timber Ridge, during the Nov. 2007 election, and I can assure everyone I did not participate in its content, preparation or distribution, and to date have not seen this flyer. 

It is interesting that several disgruntled Republican Committee Members created a splinter political club because they can not work together with all 20 committee members, having different opinions, of which I am only one. I remind them they too have come to meetings bearing proxy votes, as is permitted by the County Committee By-Laws. 

Aronowitz, McNeill, Gianzero and Queenan were part of a flyer sent out for the September 2007 Republican Committee Members election, laden with lies and innuendoes about me. They want to silence me from reminding our residents of all the give away zoning changes they have instituted. They failed and I remain a member and chairman of the Republican Committee. In fact, Aronowitz, McNeill, Gianzero, and Conroy crafted a local law prohibiting any political party chairman from serving on any Board including the Zoning Board of Appeals, enacting it on Nov. 28, 2005, with myself being the only political party chairman in town affected by this new law. I served 5 years as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and its Chairman for 4 years standing in the way of the give away zoning philosophy they perpetrated as Town Board Members.  I prevented developers from circumventing the intent of the Zoning Board of Appeals to get what they wanted and insisted they follow the criteria the law provides. 

Town elections held every other November have designated political party candidates, ie Republican, Democrat etc., and Village elections held in March do not. In Village elections political party members are not prohibited from supporting any candidate they believe would be in the best interests of village residents. 

All Woodbury elected officials, regardless of party, should be reminded, that even though you may be elected as a Republican, Democrat or without a party affiliation, when in office it’s your responsibility and duty to represent all Woodbury residents, not just special interest groups and land developers. Working together at the local municipal government level, is in the best interests of our residents, and will protect and enrich our quality of community life.

Ralph Caruso
February 8, 2008

Serving developers

In the Book of Genesis, the word and the authenticity of the faith is along an unbroken line of inheritors, the children of Abraham. In the Town and Village of Woodbury, there is an unbroken line connecting developers and potential developers to those who would take care of business and the zoning laws. A majority of the elected and appointed Woodbury town officials have served the interests of big-money developers, with the exception of John Burke, the newly elected supervisor.
“We will not change the zoning,” echoed the forum participants, sponsored by OCEAN, at Monroe-Woodbury High School Oct. 26. That zoning did change in November 2005, giving the developers the high-density laws they needed to make windfall profits and double our town’s population very soon. And that is the “genetic link” between land speculators, real estate people and the Community Party. Ask their manager for the financial disclosure form, required for those who run for political office. Who is paying the rent and paying the way for the Community Party? (Follow the money.)
As for Jonathan Swiller’s OCEAN group, ask those people whose interests they serve. Ralph Caruso’s “Preservationists” would not show up where Swiller runs the show and could filter the questions. Follow the line of influence and vote according to your interests, not the land speculators’.

Robert Donnelly
Highland Mills

Sunday, January 6, 2008   7:20 p.m.

How many kids from Legacy Ridge??


Our school board didn't submit comments to the Village of Woodbury on the Legacy Ridge development (see editorial in the Jan. 4 Local). But Cornwall resident Anthony Incanno did. Incanno lives in the big sand-colored house at the corner of Orrs Mills Road and Route 32. He is actually the owner of the Moodna dam under the bridge that we all drive across every day on the way to Vails Gate. So, naturally, he's taken a keen interest in what might be floating downstream from Woodbury once this development is built. But while he's been at it, he's also been raising questions about how this development will affect Cornwall schools. [** Note -- I did NOT talk to Incanno before writing my editorial. We are not in cahoots. But Friday, on reading his Dec. 20 letter, I see that we both noted the same thing: The developer of Legacy Ridge is low balling this big time, and dramatically underestimating the number of kids who will be entering our school system. And I see now that the Orange County Department of Planning seemed to notice this a year ago...]

The facts: The developer, Millennium Homes, is proposing to build 287 four-bedroom homes on 749 acres (with 430 acres preserved as open space) on open land at the corner of Mineral Springs Road and Trout Brook (see photo above). This is in the Town (and Village) of Woodbury,...but it is in the Cornwall Central School District, thanks to centralization in the 1950s that forced Cornwall to includes bites of New Windsor and Woodbury in its school district. The developer is estimating that the 287 four-bedroom homes will only add 290 kids to our school district and that the development will have a positive fiscal impact, resulting in a tax decrease here of half a percent. But a lot of things seem to be wrong here, starting with the data the developer used to do his "figgering."

For one...the developer is planning that each four-bedroom home will only contain 1.01 children, and cites a Rutgers University demographic study used to calculate this. But in 2006, the Orange County Department of Planning told the developer that the better thing to do would be to "actually conduct a survey of four-bedroom homes in the Cornwall School District to determine the likely number of school children generated rather than using national averages." If not this, they suggested that the developer look at numbers of children "generated" in four-bedroom homes in other Orange County school districts (love that "generated"). This was not done.

Incanno questions in his Dec. 20 letter why the developer is sticking with the Rutgers study, which was done in 2000, for an urban community, not a suburban community. And he says that the demographic information the developer obtained via FOIL from our school district was incomplete. This is presumably the demographic study that was presented to the board in late 2007, but has yet to be gone over, discussed and approved.

Piling on: There is a whole appendix to the Environmental Impact Statement devoted to the impact of this development on our school district. It's great reading. And disturbing. Here I go with the piling on.... The developer says that our school district is prepared that new schools will have to be built to accommodate growing enrollment ANYway ("The Cornwall Central School District is currently aware of the future need for elementary and middle school facilities; the Legacy Ridge development would not adversely affect that plan"). This is all news, as the Local has not heard anything in the last two years about building new schools. And as noted in Ken Cashman's very good Page 1 article in the Sept. 14 Local , the number of elementary school students in Cornwall has hardly changed over the last five years -- it's the high school that has seen the real increase -- from 971 students in the fall of 2003 to 1,137 students in the fall of 2007. And we already have a new high school, the one everyone complains about... Its capacity is 1200 students. Legacy Ridge estimates they'd be adding 69 new high school students to our district -- from 287 four-bedroom homes. A more realistic estimate would probably be twice that -- so 140. This would push the high school over capacity. This would most certainly be an adverse impact!

The Orange County Planning Department also faulted the developer and the developer's attorney, Gerry Jacobowitz, for overestimating the sale price of these 287 four-bedroom homes. The developer is estimating that each of these homes will sell for $625,000...and they have not lowered this estimate since last year, when the housing market was still booming. And even then, Orange County said that this was too high. "Furthermore, it is unclear how the predicted average selling price of homes in Legacy Ridge of $625,000 was calculated given that the methodology was not specified anywhere in the DEIS (draft environmental impact statement)." The OC Planners go on to note that the developer presumably used the average selling price of a home in Woodbury (in 2005? 2006? the height of the market?) but that the homes that sold for more than $700,000 would have skewed the average. Overestimating the sale price has the effect of making it seem as though this development will be bringing a lot more money in property taxes into our school district than it likely will be -- so much that it more than makes up for the cost of educating the additional children who will be enrolling in our schools.

Ok, this is complicated stuff. Sort of. But it's important. So one of the members of our school board should have taken some time to look over the EIS, which is online, and to -- at the very Least -- raise questions about these numbers at the Dec. 11 hearing or in writing. The hearing was held so that all affected parties might be heard.  We're an affected party. No doubt.

Here's the whole Environmental Impact Statement. Look at Appendix F in particular to see the developer's study of the impact on our school district:


** The demographic study, done by a consulting firm, Advisory Solutions, was presented to our school board in late 2007, but it hasn't been discussed yet at meetings, and I've not had a chance to really dig into it, which I want to do, because in the presentation, the consultant seemed to be predicting a pretty big increase in enrollment in the future and I'm not sure that's right. What I keep hearing at Town of Cornwall Planning Board meetings is that once the projects now in the pipeline are completed, Cornwall will be "built out." And most of the big projects now in the pipeline are seniors-only developments. No kids. ["Built out" because with so much preserved land in Cornwall -- i.e. Storm King Art Center, Black Rock -- there's not much land left to develop]. I'm not sure this consultant was aware of this whole "built out" issue...

**  Our school board president is likely writing a Letter to the Editor right now saying that our superintendent of schools, Tim Rehm, attended the Dec. 11 hearing and therefore the district Had representation. Wrong. Rehm attended. I knew that. But he could not speak, would not have spoken, he told me. He can't. He's an administrator, not a policy maker. He's right. We needed the school board there. It would have been worth it to Cornwall taxpayers to pay a school board member for their time. Building new schools is not going to be cheap!!

--M. Menge, Editor






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