Managing the river

Posted 8/30/22

NARROWSBURG, NY — The Camp FIMFO development has a gauntlet of permitting processes to run before it can go forward.

Northgate Resorts plans to invest around $34 million to turn Kittatinny …

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Managing the river


NARROWSBURG, NY — The Camp FIMFO development has a gauntlet of permitting processes to run before it can go forward.

Northgate Resorts plans to invest around $34 million to turn Kittatinny Canoes, a traditional campground, into an all-inclusive family resort. As befits a project of that scale, a host of local and regional authorities need to stamp the project with a seal of approval before it can be built.

The Upper Delaware Council (UDC) discussed the project at an August 23 meeting of its project review committee, playing its part in the review process. The UDC in its review checked the project against the River Management Plan (RMP), the document that guides a partnership of local, state and federal governments and helps them preserve the scenic and recreational qualities of the Upper Delaware River.

UDC resources and land use specialist Kerry Engelhardt conducted the UDC’s analysis of Camp FIMFO, and reviewed it with the project review committee on August 23.

Engelhardt had some concerns about the project. The plans submitted did not show clearing limits, an important inclusion to ensure that the woods on the site did not get excessively cut down. One of the septic systems on the plans didn’t have a soil investigation associated with that location, risking its placement in poorly drained soil.

Traffic levels at the site could be a problem, said Engelhardt. The project application used the current traffic at the site as a baseline for the use going forward, which Engelhardt said was a little disingenuous; “although the capacity of the site isn’t changing, they’re not making all these expensive improvements just to get the same amount of customers.”

None of the concerns Engelhardt brought up fell under the UDC’s authority to review; for instance, the state Department of Environmental Conservation would review the site’s septic systems, and the New York State Department of Transportation would review the traffic.

Ultimately, “it is the duty of the Town of Highland Planning Board to ensure that all required permits and approvals are in place before construction begins, and I do not see any issues that directly conflict with the River Management Plan,” wrote Engelhardt in her review. She recommended that the UDC find the project substantially conformed with the RMP.

Recommendations and misgivings

Members of the UDC present expressed misgivings about the project.

UDC chairperson and Highland representative Andy Boyar expressed concerns about the project’s impact on its natural surroundings. There was an aquifer in the area, and the Beaver Brook is a stocked trout stream, he said. He asked about the potential impact of septic systems on the area’s groundwater.

The DEC has rules for on-site septic systems, said Engelhardt, including setback requirements. But there aren’t a lot of studies or regulations about the long-term impact of such systems.

Other members of the UDC brought up the project’s potential placement in the flood plain, the impact it could have on congestion along the river and more concerns.

The members present agreed with Engelhardt that those concerns weren’t in the UDC’s purview. The project review committee voted to deem the project in substantial conformance and refer it to the full council, with Damascus representative Jeff Dexter voting against the project and Boyar abstaining. The full council will vote on the project on Thursday, September 1.

While the project went through, enough members had concerns that the committee agreed to take their issues and the issues brought up by members of the public and include them as a list of recommendations alongside the substantial conformance determination.

The members of the public present pushed the UDC to take a stronger stance against the project in a heated series of exchanges. They raised concerns about the density of the developed portion of the site, about the potential for chemicals from the project’s waterpark to spill during a flood and about the project’s environmental impact.

Roswell Hamrick, president of the Barryville Chamber of Commerce, said that the UDC’s voice would have a major impact on the process of review, that the members of the Highland Planning Board were looking to the UDC for advice. Hamrick requested that the council recommend independent studies that would examine what the impact of the project would be.

The Highland Planning Board could accept those concerns, said Larry Richardson, Cochecton representative and chair of the project review committee. It was not the UDC’s role tell the planning board what to do; “We are only allowed to look at something on how does it affect the River Management Plan on these specific issues. So if you are an individual who is just looking for this organization to stop a project that you’re not happy with, we’re not the people to do that.”

Shohola representative Aaron Robinson agreed: the UDC takes a small slice out of the review process, he said, but the UDC’s review was not intended to interfere with a town’s zoning.

Upper Delaware Council, Camp FIMFO, Northgate Resorts, Highland, project review, River Management Plan


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