By Jacob H. Zoghlin, Esq.
Greene County’s plan to construct a new jail in Coxsackie, New York raises questions about how the proposed project will impact the environment and nearby residents. The project has made news recently as politicians and the public debate the size and cost of the proposed facility.1 According to recent reporting, the jail would take at least three years to complete, and could involve the County taking out a $39 million bond with the United States Department of Agriculture.
Because projects like this must be disclosed in New York State’s Environmental Notice Bulletin (the “ENB”), we now know that the proposal involves the construction of “an 80-bed County Jail facility with associated access roads, parking, and stormwater management areas for a total disturbance area of approximately 21.2 acres.”2 The building itself would include approximately 63,275 square-feet of floor space and, as currently designed, will cause permanent impacts to New York State Wetlands. The project also raises concerns about effects on protected wildlife because the site of the proposed jail is currently occupied habitat for the Short-Eared Owl (which New York State lists as endangered) and the Northern Harrier (which the State lists as threatened).
The proposal may also impact historical or cultural resources. According to the ENB, “the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (“OPRHP”) has determined that the proposed activity will have an impact on registered or eligible archaeological sites or historic structures.” The potential impacts on the environment, historical resources, and nearby residents required the County to prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (“DEIS”) for the proposed project, which is now on file with the Greene County Legislature. Those interested in learning more about the project should review the DEIS. Comments on the DEIS must be submitted in writing no later than May 3, 2019.
1 See “State approves jail project, recommends more beds,” By Sarah Trafton, Columbia-Greene Media, HudsonValley360, April 1, 2019, available at https://www.hudsonvalley360.com/article/state-approves-jail-project-recommends-more-beds?wallit_nosession=1.
2 See “Green County Jail Project, Application Identification Number 4-1928-00232/00001,” New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Environmental Notice Bulletin, April 3, 2019, available at https://www.dec.ny.gov/enb/20190403_reg4.html#419280023200001.
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