Last night the Brookhaven Town board held a public hearing to bear testimony of a watershed protection study that was recently completed. The basis of the study was to look ahead at long term solutions for the protection of the Carmans River, whose main body is located in Yaphank, New York. There were many speakers both for and against the study.The main idea of the study was to protect the river by increasing the size of the watershed protection area around it. In doing so it would create an area void of any development thus reducing the threat to the river from septic,water runoff,fertilizers,road salt or any other man made contaminants that may pose a threat to the rivers natural habitat of fish and wildlife.
Opponents of the study presented intriguing arguments with many questions. First of which was the fact that this study was accomplished within a time period of approximately 100 days.This time table intrigued them because a previous study that was recently completed took over three years,it was a study on how to control and eliminate the infiltration of an invasive plant growth that had taken over and is presently choking the river. This issue had a bearing interest as it was explained that the nitrogen offset from these rotting plants far exceeded the nitrogen that would ever be produced from the man made contaminants.This study of which was not included in the report.
Another issue brought forward by residents was, as residents they did not have input into the study where as builders and developers that did not reside in the affected area sat at the table.This many residents found disturbing for it is their properties in the form of housing, lots,and farms that are at stake.The report stated that many of the properties,lots, farms would not lose their worth for they would be given TDR’s (Transfer of Development Rights)This is a plan that comes out of the Pines Barren Protection Project in which credits are issued for properties which could then be traded to other properties in other locations or banked.It was brought up that there have been people (landowners) in the past that have been waiting with their credit in hand for over 15 years while continuing to pay taxes on property they can’t use. One property owners fear is that if the government,state,county and town are broke what good is it for him to have a credit when cash is what he would want for his land. This would be amplified in the fact that he would have to continue to pay taxes on property he could not sell or use.
There were many points made, watershed protection is something all residents agreed on. The way you go about it is where differences arise.
The most important point of the night came from a gentlemen explaining the constitutionality of Eminent Domain.
He explained that the area around eminent domain is not fuzzy. Any attempt to circumvent the law of Eminent Domain is unconstitutional. Just compensation,equal treatment and due process must be followed. A fair market value payable in cash not TDR’s must be adhered to, delay of payment is to be penalized in an interest payment.
The question this gentlemen brought up seems to exceed all other arguments, for if there is no protection of ones land than then there is no one. As the gentleman explained, the Mr. Whimpy idea of “I will gladly pay you Monday for hamburger today” is unacceptable on the issue of Emiment Domain.
Carmans River vs Eminent Domain is an issue that needs to be looked at very seriously.
By Alex Hanson