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The following is a statement issued by the Battenkill Conservancy.

Sent to Greenwich Village Board, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Easton Supervisor ~July 7, 2006

The Battenkill Conservancy has learned that you will soon evaluate a request for a variance from a developer to build 108 housing units on a land parcel off Eddy Street. We are writing to urge you to consider this proposal with great care and thorough investigation, as a project of this scope could radically change the character of the village and the health of the Battenkill watershed forever.

While the potential of a 5% increase in our student body and the need to build new sewage and water systems will have a significant effect on our tax rates, the environmental and scenic impacts may also be drastic and irrevocable.

The Battenkill is a precious natural resource with unique ecological and geographical features. As land all across our country has been transformed from agriculture and forest to retail, suburban and highways uses, the beauty of our river and its tributaries, flowing past forested and agricultural lands, and small villages, has remained relatively unchanged. So rare and valuable has this type of resource become, that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has designated the Battenkill corridor as an area for strategic protection making it eligible for Open Space Grants.

While the people who have fished the river for years can tell you about the deterioration of the fish population, we have been testing the river’s waters for over 15 years, and can tell you the study of macro invertebrates and the river chemistry changes indicate just how fragile this precious resource is. It is interesting to observe that as the water flows through natural well buffered areas, the river’s water quality improves, and when it flows through developed areas the water quality deteriorates.

Noticeable changes in the water quality can be measured between a point above and below the confluence of a tributary. Marshall Brook flows through the proposed development site before joining Fly Creek, a tributary of the Battenkill. If the surrounding property is converted to high- density housing, much of the natural fauna will be removed and replaced with suburban style landscaping, non-water absorbing buildings, paved roads and driveways. Conventional suburban-style landscaping uses pesticides and fertilizers at a much higher per acre rate than farming. The non-water absorbing surfaces will cause immediate water flows into the tributary, bypassing the filtering and volume control normally handled by a natural buffer. The resulting run-off could have a significant negative effect on the river. Chances are the run-off will also cause an increase in water temperature. When the water temperature rises, the ability to carry oxygen is diminished. The oxygen levels on the Battenkill are already a concern, and even small changes could cause significant problems. Fragmentation of the habitat is another vital area of concern when such developments are allowed to proceed.

The Battenkill Conservancy encourages the Village to comply with the legal requirement for a SEQR Type 1 review before making any decisions on this variance. Such a review will help provide information needed for a sound decision. The Battenkill Conservancy should be a party to this process because of the potential effects to the watershed.

There is much at stake here. Should we protect the valuable and rare natural and scenic resources in the Battenkill Watershed and the charming historic feel of the Village of Greenwich, or should we attempt to join the ranks of suburbia?

We thank you for your careful consideration of this matter.


Stuart Bartow, Chair
For The Battenkill Conservancy Board of Directors

Photo of the Battenkill, near the site, by Clifford Oliver