Developer seeks permit to work in wetland

Gwen Chamberlain
A permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation will be required to commence any development within the green checked area around the protected wetland.

Keuka Outlet Development, the company that plans to build condominiums on the 14.7 acre property where Penn Yan Marine was located, has asked Penn Yan area businesses for support in its application for the permit to allow construction within a specific “buffer” zone surrounding a state-regulated freshwater wetland.

Chris Iversen, owner of Keuka Outlet Development, explains, “Because we are proposing some development improvements within the DEC defined 100’ wetland buffer, DEC has asked if there are alternative layouts, or if the improvements are necessary for the project to go forward. We are responding that alternatives were looked at, but that this is the only feasible layout, and necessary for the success of the project.”

Plans for the development include a 26-slip private boat basin for use by residents of the housing units planned for the 14.7-acre site where Penn Yan Boats and Penn Yan Marine Mfg. were located. There will not be a retail marina in the boat basin.

“We asked to get some support from the community agreeing that, in particular, lake access via the boat basin is necessary to make the development attractive for home buyers,” adds Iversen, who says this line of inquiry is not unusual, that DEC officials need to see justification for why guidelines for protected water buffers are being crossed.

A portion of the sample letter that has been circulated to businesses says, “The development of this site is a critical component to the overall plan for infrastructure improvement and economic development in Penn Yan and Yates County. This project will include expanded water, sewer and utility capabilities and in turn, will improve the environmental integrity of the site while enabling the growth of our economy and tax base.”

Once the permit application is complete, DEC officials will publish detailed information, and conduct a public comment period.

In related news, Penn Yan Village officials have not taken action to allow Keuka Outlet Development to improve a small portion of village-owned land as part of the boat basin. Earlier in February, village officials had discussed finding a way to allow KOD to include a 64 ft. by 100 ft. area of the Keuka Outlet shoreline that lies within the boundaries of the Firemen’s Field in the southeastern portion of the boat basin. Although village officials had expected to be able to take action Feb. 17, it was not discussed at the regular meeting that night.

Previously, Mayor Leigh MacKerchar had said the developer could include a dock for public use on the property.

To be protected under the Freshwater Wetlands Act, a wetland must be 12.4 acres (5 hectares or larger). Wetlands smaller than this may be protected if they are considered of unusual local importance. Around every wetland is an ‘adjacent area’ of 100 feet that is also regulated to provide protection for the wetland.

Activities that require permits in wetland areas include construction of buildings, roadways, septic systems, bulkheads, dikes, or dams; placement of fill, excavation, or grading; modification, expansion, or extensive restoration of existing structures; drainage, except for agriculture; and application of pesticides in wetlands.