The Henry Farm Estates project consists of 65 single family homes, 50 multiple dwelling age-restricted townhouses (age 55 and older) in twelve buildings, and a 4.5 acre commercial/office complex, on a 134 acre parcel of land. It is located on Lakes Road opposite Camp Monroe Road, and adjacent to the Town of Monroe Landfill.
The close proximity of this project to the Landfill has been a focus item for The Preservation Collective, in addition to the other environmental and community issues regarding steep slopes, wetland disturbance, traffic, water, sewer, tree clearing and more.
2018: The applicant has filed a lawsuit challenging "the Town's use of the invalid Moratorium Law and adoption of the Zoning Law Amendments to thwart Plaintiff's approved project, in all practical effect, and make housing unavailable to the Hasidic Jewish community." We are concerned that the Plaintiff demands that the Court declare The Town's recently improved regulations unlawful and demand the courts issue an injunction compelling the Town to grant 'conditional' approvals that still need to be reviewed before acceptance. This means the lawsuit could circumvent the public hearings that normally would take place before such decisions are made by the Town Board. Residents in the area are still concerned about the water district to be created from this project's central well in such close proximity of old unlined landfill in addition to the overall design that overdevelops the site in steep slopes and around wetlands. Note, in 2003, The County Planning Commissioner stated that the design of the Henry Farms project was a "misrepresentation of clustering and an overutilization of the site." and the Town's Conservation Commission concluded the development was "not congruent with the town of Monroe master plan". Despite the fact that the project got to the point of 'conditional' approval by the Town's Planning Board, there has been concerns based on environmental issues pointing out flaws in conclusions of the water study and oversights in site plan changes at various steps of the review process. The final outcome could have long term impacts to groundwater and mitigation will be passed onto the Town of Monroe long after the project is completed.
2016: The applicant has petitioned the Town Board of Monroe requesting a hardship variance from the current building moratorium. One would presume they want to move forward through the process so they will not be affected by improved regulations that are to be recommended in the new Comprehensive Plan under review. The Town of Monroe held a public hearing on 7/25/16 and continued written comment submissions for 10 days. The applicant will have to prove that they will have a severe hardship defined by no economic return on any land purchase. It was argued, by the public, that they need to provide proof that the moratorium delay will prevent them from earning a reasonable return after it is lifted and that proof should be demonstrated by competent financial evidence. Prior to the hearing, that was not provided by the applicant but they submitted a broker's opinion based on the land "as is" current condition during the moratorium and not the return expected on building allowed by zoning.
On 9/14/16, the Town Board denied the variance request.
Please note, we pointed out at the hearing that this project already received an exemption from stricter zoning in 2003 that would have reduced the lot count, which means they are allowed to build more than what the property is currently zoned. In addition, after the findings in 2004, there was "substantial increase in impervious areas" and "significant" changes in the layout without a public hearing. Plus, between 2011 and 2015, there was a relocation of 6 lots into wetland areas. Concerns were raised about the overdevelopment of the site, disturbance to wetlands and steep slopes as well as outdated water tests and the potential impact of the unlined landfill in close proximity to the Henry Farms proposed wells.
Unfortunately this project has had no recent review on record by the Monroe Conservation Commission, Town Board engineer and Town Board Planner nor was it referred to the County Planning Department when it received approvals from the Monroe Planning Board. The Preservation Collective would like to see further review of the environmental impacts by the Town before they vote on the final conditions on the project to insure the safety of the groundwater that will serve as drinking water to area residents and that the design of the project is consistent with the Town's Comprehensive Plan.
Meanwhile, at the April 5 Planning Board meeting, they vote to extend the conditional final approval until July 11. At that time they would like to get a renewed confirmation from the Moodna Sewer Commission for connection and also confirmation on size of units planned; single family homes are anticipated to have 4 bedrooms and the townhouses only 2 bedrooms as per the adopted findings on the Environmental Impact Statement from 2004. However, more recent documents in the Town's file and the applicant's engineer imply much larger house footprints and more bedrooms for the Townhouses (which are supposed to be age restricted for bonus density) are planned for development.
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Click here for Henry Farms Map (opens in a new window)
2016: The project seeks exemption from recent building moratorium. Once variance request is resolved, the developer still needs to address certain conditions of the project approval before they can proceed to develop. The Town Board of Monroe will hold public hearing on those conditions i.e. dedication of open space parcels, water district and waiver of sidewalk requirement for the single family house portion of the site plan as approved by Planning Board
2015: The project receives conditional final approval.
2011 - 2014: The applicant requests and receives an extension on their preliminary approval
2009 - 2010: The applicant requests phasing project and relocating two lots.
2007 - 2008: The applicant requests and receives an extension on their preliminary approval
2006: The applicant requests and receives an extention on their preliminary approval.
Nov 2005: NY State D.E.C. issues Henry Farm their water supply permit. Orange County Department Of Health and NY State D.O.H. are still reviewing the application.
The Preservation Collective (TPC) expresses concern due to the developer's failure to review early in the SEQR process the possible link between the Henry Farm water wells and the uncapped waste buried in the closed Monroe Landfill on the adjacent property. The Landfill, classified as a Construction & Demolition facility, and used by the Town and its residents since the 1960's, is unlined, uncapped, and not monitored according to NYSDEC Part 360 regulations, although the Landfill ceased accepting C&D waste in 1989. The Town of Monroe Planning Board and Supervisor knew that the Landfill was not properly capped or closed and therefore should have forced the developer to examine the issue in the project's Draft Environmental Impact Statement. With the proposed housing developments primary water well located within 150 feet of the Landfill debris field, TPC contends that contaminants from the landfill could have significant impacts on the quality of the well to be developed as well as impact on the existing private wells neighboring the development. "By dropping this information in at the very end of the process rather than at the beginning as the statute requires, the respondants here were plainly trying to have as little public discussion as possible on this issue.", wrote TPC's attorney, Scott Thornton of Chester.
The Planning Board voted to grant preliminary subdivision approval to the Henry Farm applicant. The applicant can now proceed to submit his applications to various agencies for the permits he will need to continue developing the property.
The Town Board announced that a special meeting will be held on July 12th to address the upcoming Landfill Closure. The revised closure proposal of the Town's consultants was accepted by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in April 2004 and DEC has been invited to speak at this meeting, along with the Towns consultants regarding this closure. (See Landfill Issue for more details)
The Planning Board issues their 'Findings' based on the FEIS that was accepted in April. However, The Preservation Collective has found that these findings do not possess sufficient details for the interested agencies to fully understand the potential implications and possible dangers of the adjacent Town of Monroe Landfill.
The Planning Board accepts the Final Environmental Impact Statement submitted by the Henry Farms applicant. However, The Preservation Collective is not satisfied that all the environmental impacts and concerns have been adequately addressed and has made the Town of Monroe Planning Board aware of our concerns.
2003 and earlier:
The Planning Board accepts the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The Preservation Collective challenges the adequacy of studies because it did not consider the potential for groundwater contamination from the landfill groundwater. The Town Board exempts property from a zoning change that would have lowered the amount of units. Also the Town of Monroe adds the Neighborhood Business zone to the property so a small commercial complex can be built to service area residents' needs. These changes in zoning were implemented before the completed SEQR review of the project by the Planning Board.