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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 12, 2006

Martin says well turbid
Turmoil springs over underground water

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Underground water is not protected in New York State.

"One person doesn’t have rights to water over another person," said Steve Lukowski, with the Albany County Department of Health.

This is an issue for local homeowner Stefanie Martin.

"I can’t bathe, I can’t do my dishes, I can’t do laundry," Martin told the New Scotland Planning Board at last week’s meeting.

Martin lives on Font Grove Road. Her home is close to a proposed development on the corner of Font Grove and Krumkill roads.

The application was submitted by Francis Bossolini, and was originally for a six-lot subdivision, but has been downgraded to a four-lot subdivision. The application is now a minor subdivision, falling in a residential conservation (R2) zone.

Minor subdivisions are not required to go before the planning board for approval unless they fall within a commercial or industrial zone.

Bossolini could have withdrawn his original application and submitted a new, revised application, which would not require planning board review. The town asked him not to do that.

"We asked him not to withdraw, so that the public remained aware of what was going on," said Paul Cantlin, zoning administrator and chief building inspector for the town of New Scotland.

Last Tuesday, the planning board unanimously approved Bossolini’s subdivision plan – approving two of the four lots for houses; the other two lots did not pass the county well-water requirements.

Martin began to have major issues with her water, she says, when Bossolini began drilling wells on the property for subdivision. The drilling caused her water to be more turbid – to have more sediment or foreign particles, she said.

In Martin’s case, the sediment is suspended clay, Cantlin said.

"There is no protection from someone who drills a well that ends up drawing water from someone else’s well," he told The Enterprise.

"That’s a very difficult area to obtain water," said Lukowski of the subdivision site, which is without municipal water. "Many of the people have marginal water supplies," he added. The county tries to have wells located far enough away from other wells, so one does not impact others, he said.

But whether one well affects another is difficult to determine, he said.

"They are in a water bubble under the ground that has a lot of silt in it," said Robert Stapf, the chairman of the planning board.

Because no laws exist protecting underground water supplies, Stapf told The Enterprise, "There was no solutions on what could be done on the Martin well."

Martin said that her water has had clay in it since she moved in, but she had it under control with treatment systems, until Bossolini started drilling.

Bossolini, at the combined urging of the county’s health department and the town, took a sample of water from Martin’s tap. The results that Bossolini presented to the planning board from the tests run on the sample did not show any major impact to Martin’s water.

"It doesn’t appear that there was any difference in her water quality," Lukowski said.

Over a period of time, the water seemed to go back to where it was before, Cantlin said.

"The test results I don’t believe are accurate," Martin told The Enterprise.

Bossolini’s drilling and water testing were all done to code, said Keith Menia, of Vollmer Associates, the town’s engineering firm.

"The developers claim there was no impact," Lukowski said of the possible affect on Martin’s well or to other wells in the area.

"The problem I’m scared about, is the problem ever going to settle back down"" Martin asked The Enterprise.

The answer, it seems, lies in the hands of Martin. There is nothing that the town or the developer or the county can do to help her, officials say.

"We would like to have public water in the whole town, but it’s a cost issue," Stapf told The Enterprise.

Other business

In other business, the planning board:

– Allowed Jon Petrecky to deposit more than 100 yards of fill on his property on Orchard Hill Road. The board first held a public hearing, and heard from Petrecky’s neighbor, Victoria Seymour, on her concerns about runoff from his property to her well. Petrecky has installed a silt fence, but will also put in mulch and hay bales to help stabilize the embankment;

– Allowed Ronald Shelmerdine to deposit more than 100 yards of fill on his property on New Salem South Road. The board first held a public hearing, and heard from Susan Fuller, who lives across from the property, of her concerns about the stability of some of the trees. Shelmerdine wants to build a driveway to access the property, and does not intend to build at this time, he said;

– Allowed Christopher Mielke to deposit more than 100 yards of fill on his property on Woodwind Drive. The board first held a public hearing, and heard from several neighbors in support of Mielke’s plans to build a home and a pond on the property. Some concerns were raised about the pond and how it may affect their point wells. The board concluded that a pond as small as the one Mielke is proposing – 20 feet wide and six feet deep – would not affect the wells. The pond application was delayed until next month, as it needs approval from Albany County; and

– Scheduled public hearings for next month on individual applications submitted by Christopher Bevin, Susan Rooney, and Gary Menia.

Bevin is applying on behalf of Velocitel, to allow the company to remove three antennas on Beaver Dam Road, owned by Freedom Broadcasting, Incorporated and add six new antennas onto the three existing mounts, capable of holding nine antennas. Rooney’s application is to replace an existing mobile home with a newer, larger mobile home on her property on Upper Flatrock Road.

Menia is applying to construct a storage building, 50 feet long by 20 feet wide, to house Menia’s business equipment, on his property on New Scotland South Road.

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