TOWN OF NORTH HARMONY
TOWN BOARD INFORMATION MEETING WITH CHAUTAUQUA LAKE PARTNERSHIP (CLP)
MONDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2017, 10:30 AM
SALLY P. CARLSON, SUPERVISOR PRESENT
FRANK STOW, COUNCILMAN PRESENT
RICHARD SENA, COUNCILMAN PRESENT
DUNCAN MCNEILL, COUNCILMAN PRESENT
LOUISE ORTMAN, COUNCILWOMAN PRESENT
Mrs. Carlson opened the meeting at 10:30 PM. There were 14 members of the public present.
Karen Rine, CLP Outreach Coordinator, gave background information on the organization. She said the CLP was established in 2002 and their mission is to improve Chautauqua Lake water quality and enjoyment. She said the CLA has done the best they can, but they only harvest weeds and the CLP is trying to fill some gaps to protect the lake. She said the CLP had received a permit to do herbicide application on the lake in Bemus Bay, but had been told by the DEC that they could not get another permit until the 1990 Supplemental Environmental Impact Study (SEIS) was updated. She said the CLP cannot be successful until the surrounding communities get behind the idea of better lake management.
Jim Wehrfritz, CLP Vice President, gave a presentation which included the following:
- CLP Update
- 2018 Plans and Organization/SEIS Focus
- Community Outreach
- SEIS/SEQRA/Permitting Process and Town Requirements
Mr. Wehrfritz said one of their 2018 major projects is to reverse the 1986 decree that created the need for an EIS to use herbicides in Chautauqua Lake. He said that is not common. He said Chautauqua Lake is the only lake in NYS that is subject to this. He said there was a consent decree entered into between the DEC and the CLA at that time because they were the ones who applied for herbicides and that decree (completed in 1990) required the EIS. He said the SEIS will still have to be done because there is already one in the record. Mr. Wehrfritz said many communities around the lake have come to the CLP to express their support and they are following up on that for the 2018 plan. He said as a result of the 2017 herbicide application of Bemus Bay, they have also discovered a large mass of dead vegetation on the bottom of the bay (between 0’ and 7’) which is contributing nutrients to the water that feeds weeds and algae. He said they are trying to develop a project to remove that vegetation.
Mr. Latone, CLP Treasurer, reported that last year they cleaned shoreline weeds from the park all the way to Bemus. He said next year they plan to do the same and are working on a piece of equipment that will help in the endeavor. There was discussion that this helps to prevent the dangerous bacteria that develops due to the rotting of these shoreline weed fragments.
Mr. Wehrfritz said there will always be a need for weed removal, but there are some negative environmental impacts associated with that that have been documented with the DEC. The CLP will like to have those documented as there has never been an environmental review of weed cutting and harvesting in NYS and the CLP would like one so that negative impacts can be mitigated. He said the fragments of weeds that are left in the lake after cutting can cause re-growth in other areas of the lake (i.e. milfoil and curly pond weed). He said they are in the process of planning a conference to be held at Chautauqua Institution in the early spring to help plan actions related to this. He said there are potentially 8 projects that the CLP is pursuing in 2018 and that is why they need to organize in order to execute them.
Mr. Wehrfritz said key to the plan is community outreach/facilitation involving shoreline communities organizing with Town/Village support (as in Bemus Bay in 2017). He gave the locations of areas that will be included in the SEIS for 2018 and indicated that surveys on them will be complete by 11/3/17. Areas to be included in the SEIS are: North Harmony – 1-86 to Tom’s Point Wetlands; North
Harmony – Bly Bay; North Harmony – Sunrise Cove; Busti/Lakewood – entire shoreline; Ellicott/Celeron – Burtis Bay; Ellery – Greenhurst/Pt. Stockholm/Martha’s Vineyard; Ellery – Bemus Pt. to Bemus Creek; Ellery – Warner Bay; Ellery – Sunset Bay (pending). He said these projects include weed surveys and bottom vegetation surveys. These projects will cover 685-725 acres and are candidates for herbicide treatments and improved weed cutting/harvesting, etc.
There was discussion of how they are measuring the weeds on the bottom of the lake and it was stated that they are using poles and have also used a diver. There was a discussion on whether the decomposing weeds on the bottom of the lake are creating methane gas. Mr. Wehrfritz said they need the preliminary results of the weed study by 11/10/17, in order to feed the SEIS process. He said the results of the survey will drive the proposals made in the SEIS for an area. It was asked if that information will be made public. Mr. Wehrfritz said the information will be used by the DEC as in the Bemus Bay project that was done in 2017. He said that information had been made public and it created some problems with mis-interpretation. He said the information is not being publicly financed, so it is not a public document. He said they intend to share the key results with the community. Mr. Wehrfritz said the environmental effects of proposed herbicide treatments are definitely considered in the SEIS and SEQRA process as well as the permitting process. He said they would like to get the same type of environmental impact review; sensitivity and mitigation, for weed cutting and harvesting, which currently does not go through that. He said wherever herbicides are proposed to be used and where they are permitted, they will have gone through a process that looks at any significant impacts on fish, other vegetation and basically everything else.
Mrs. Carlson asked if the CLP will be using the CLMC plan to review that for the SEQRA. Mr. Wehrfritz said yes, it is one of the documents that will be reviewed and utilized in the SEIS and SEQRA process. He said they do not want to have to redo any of the work done in the previous studies. He said they are currently looking at the TMDL on phosphorus as it relates to the vegetation sitting on the bottom of the bay because in the TMDL the on bottom contribution of phosphorus was very large. He said parts of the CLMC studies are being brought into the SEIS study by the consultant they have hired.
Mr. Sena asked if the dredging studies would be included. Mr. Wehrfritz said he would make sure the dredging studies are on the list to be reviewed.
Someone asked how successful the herbicide application at Bemus Bay was. Mr. Wehrfritz said there had not been any weed removal necessary after the application and people said the bay was the best it had been in 15 years (including the County Executive). In the areas treated the invasive weeds were gone and the native weeds were growing strong.
There was discussion that the CLA indicated that they were prohibited from cutting weeds in the Stow area because of the herbicide application. Mr. Wehrfritz said there was nothing prohibiting the CLA from cutting weeds in those areas. It was discussed that the letter was clear on what the areas of weed removal exclusion were.
Mrs. Ortman asked if the environmental study would need to be redone for new areas that are probably similar. She also asked why the cost is $200,000.00.
Mr. Wehrfritz said the CLP has been working on the scope, costs, payment process, etc. for approximately 2 ½ months and the reason it cost so much is because the process to do the SEIS and take it through SEQRA in NYS is very comprehensive (includes mandatory steps that have to be done in a certain way and documented as such) otherwise there can be an article 78 lawsuit which basically challenges what you did by arguing that a process was skipped or not done completely. He said the administrative process is very expensive. He said they are not doing the whole lake because they have not heard from all the communities on the lake. He said in subsequent years (after 2018), they will not have to redo the entire study, they will just have to add the areas that they want to look at into the 2018 study, and the whole process will not be necessary. You will however, have to do some work for those added areas (i.e. permits applications will have to be filed and processed).
Mr. Stow asked if the EIS provides for impacts 5 years down the road.
Mr. Wehrfritz said yes.
The CLP thanked those present for their time and asked the town for a resolution to participate and a financial commitment of $10,000.00 to fund their efforts in this process.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:00 AM.