Monday, September 26, 2011

Should New York Sell Tidal Land for a Private Development? Mamaroneck Residents Say No

Some residents of Mamaroneck are trying to convince their neighbors to write to New York State officials to prevent to sale of a half-acre of state-owned tidal land to the Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club, which needs to land to build 23 new houses on its property.

The half-acre lies near the entrance of the Otter Creek Preserve, a tidal creek owned by The Nature Conservancy. As part of its application to build the 23 houses, the Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club claimed that it owned the half-acre. But a title search showed that the land is owned by New York State.

Now the beach and yacht club wants to buy the land. One oddity: although it’s tidal land, it has been paved and used by the beach and yacht club for decades for parking.

Here’s the memo that’s circulating in Mamaroneck.

Mamaroneck Beach & Yacht Club (MB&YC) has applied to the NYS Office of General Services (OGS) to PURCHASE 0.58 acres of environmentally sensitive tidal wetlands from the State of New York directly abutting Otter Creek at the entrance to the Otter Creek Preserve, one of Westchester’s most extraordinary environmental resources and a designated “critical environmental area.” Comments on this proposed sale must be received by OGS on or before October 11, 2011.

MB&YC wants this public land for a real estate development of 23 “seasonal residences” which depends on MB&YC ownership of these public lands. After telling the public, the Village and the New York Supreme Court that it owned the Otter Creek parcel, MB&YC is faced with the fact that the State claims ownership for the benefit of the people of New York. If MB&YC cannot gain control of this land through purchase from OGS, its current plan cannot go forward because it does not comply with the Village’s Zoning Code. If you believe that the MB&YC’s plan is bad for the Village and that this sale would make a mockery of the Village’s LWRP, that it would totally undermine the Public Trust Doctrine as well as the essence of Coastal Zone Management Programs, you need to make YOUR voice heard by OGS.

Many believe that this issues also go to the core of the State’s obligations to protect the public’s natural resources held in “trust” for the public (Public Trust Doctrine) and the Federal as well as New York’s Coastal Zone Management Policies. We believe that MB&YC’s proposal to use this area as a parking lot serving a luxury residential development is NOT CONSISTENT with either the Public Trust Doctrine or Coastal Zone Policies and that there are far better alternatives available to OGS to restore and protect this critical area for and open it up to the public at large.

OGS should actively consider transferring responsibility for the Otter Creek parcel to either the State’s own Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) or Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation so that that agency could enter into a long-term management agreement with a responsible Non-Profit Organization to help protect this area and the adjacent Otter Creek Preserve.

In its application, MB&YC argues to OGS that the area has been a parking lot for over 80 years and that they have used if for over 40 years. However, a Ward Carpenter Survey from 1950 shows the area underwater at high tide. So the property appears to have been filled illegally. In 2009 MB&YC entered into a consent decree with DEC that imposed sanctions on MB&YC because of even more recent illegal filling on this very site as well as other illegal acts.

It is imperative that OGS hear from YOU, as a member of the public, that these lands should not be sold for use in a luxury residential development, but should remain in the Public Trust, be restored as tidal wetlands (and a protected entry to the Otter Creek Preserve) and be opened for public access to this historic intersection of tidal marshlands and Mamaroneck Harbor.

We ask you to send our comments to OGS by email or letter to:
Commissioner RoAnn M. Destito
NYS Office of General Services
41st Floor Corning Tower
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12242


All comments must be received on or before October 11, 2011. Please
also send copies of your letter or email or write directly to:

The Honorable Governor Andrew Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224


Anonymous Robert said...

The State should not condone the 'fill first, seek permission and title later' tactic that was used in this instance, paticularly not from a repeat offender. The otter creek wetland and Mamaroneck Harbor are significant public resources that must be protected.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Tom Andersen said...

I'm more than happy to publish other comments about this but I'm philosophically opposed to anonymous comments, so if you disagree with what's been written, by all means write something and tell us your name.

11:40 AM  

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