TOWN OF DEERPARK - An Article 78 lawsuit has been filed in Orange County Supreme Court against Town of Deerpark officials and Dragon Springs Buddhist, Inc. by attorney Chris Murray, representing Grace Woodard and other neighbors of the 393-acre Dragon Springs campus.
Woodard and her neighbors claim that the town and organization ignored a decision from a 2018 public hearing for a proposed expansion of Dragon Springs buildings and infrastructure. Woodard said that the town recently granted a permit for a new Dragon Springs entrance that would accommodate bus traffic on Guymard Turnpike, despite findings presented at the hearing by a traffic engineer that the narrow, winding road could not accommodate that.
“The site plan hasn’t been approved, and until it is, proposed changes shouldn’t be implemented,” said attorney Chris Murray.
The petition to the court cited a driveway permit issued by Edward Hughson, Deerpark Highway Department superintendent, without review under the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act and without review by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Army Corps of Engineers, although the work site is in a freshwater wetland area. The work also was allowed without Deerpark Town Planning Board approval, despite the property being under review for a site plan amendment, according to the petition.
After the site plan hearing in April, the town had recommended a supplemental environmental impact study, “essentially a redo of the first one,” said Woodard. “Dragon Springs did another traffic study, and now they’re doing the new entryway through authorization by the Highway Department. We say it’s part of the master plan that was rejected. It’s a burden on Guymard Turnpike, and the sight lines can’t support it.”
The Deerpark Highway Department can give permits for driveways, Woodard said, so their initial petition for a temporary restraining order was denied by state Supreme Court 9th Judicial District Judge Maria Vazquez-Doles.
Another Dragon Springs neighbor, Dusanka Marusic, accuses the town of allowing the rejected campus expansion “inch by inch.” The proposed expansion includes a 100,000-gallon wastewater treatment plant to accommodate thousands of visitors and more residents. But Dragon Springs has a history of recurring New York State Department of Environmental Conservation violations, as well as structures built without permits.
Dragon Springs leaders promised compliance with permitting processes at the hearing in April, but five months later, in September, an inspection report by building inspector Al Dodd showed that a covered walkway built without a permit in the winter of 2017-18 was still standing, despite persistent demands that they demolish it. Town officials threatened to act, but didn’t.
A year and a half earlier, in April 2018, Planning Board Chairman Willard Schadt had said of its continued existence, “There will be a point when I dig my heels in. They have a demolition permit and said they would do it in spring.”
Asked about the walkway last week, Deerpark Supervisor Gary Spears said that it had been demolished.
However, Frank Ketcham, an engineer whose Mount Hope farm overlooks Dragon Springs, reported that the illegal wooden eighth story of a Dragon Springs building “still remains with no word about a required sprinkler system being installed.”
“I also have an interesting set of documents regarding an 18,000 gpd wastewater treatment plant,” he said. “The Town sent Dragon Springs a letter stating that even though they had received DEC plan approval, they still had to appear before the Planning Board for approval and get a building permit. Then I have a letter from Dragon Springs to the DEC stating that they built half of the system and put it in service. I requested documents under the Freedom of Information Law and received the treatment plant monthly reports from the DEC since it was put in service last year. This was built without approval or permit. The Town denies that there is a wastewater treatment plant.”
A response to the Article 78 suit from Dragon Springs and town officials is due on Dec. 30, Murray said. Grace Woodard and others filing the suit must then respond by Jan. 8.
（recordonline.com,Dec 29, 2019）