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DEC extends comment period on Alplaus cleanup plan

DEC extends comment period on Alplaus cleanup plan

Proposal for new housing development has been controversial
DEC extends comment period on Alplaus cleanup plan
The village firehouse on Alplaus Avenue in Alplaus on Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Photographer: Gazette file photo

ALPLAUS -- Residents will have a bit more time to sound off on a plan to clean up a contaminated site along the Mohawk River.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has extended the public comment period for a proposal by Prime Mohawk LLC, of Cohoes, to clean up the former industrial site -- now a designated brownfield -- for the purpose of building a 228-unit housing development on 84 acres off Mohawk Avenue and Maritime Drive.

The public comment period was originally set to expire Sept. 15 but has been extended to Oct. 20.

The proposed cleanup and housing development have been controversial, with detractors, including the Alplaus Residents' Association, voicing oppositoin to the high-density housing project.

If DEC approves the proposed cleanup, Priume could receive state income tax credits -- through the state's brownfield cleanup program -- as it builds condominiums or apartments on the site.

A roughly 34-acre portion of the property is contaminated with PCBs, petroleum residues, volatile organics and metals including mercury, lead and silver, according to DEC. By all accounts, all the contamination has to be removed before any kind of residential development can occur there.

Prime Mohawk has asserted that a large development is necessary to offset the cost of the cleanup.

The development can't go forward without a zoning change that must be approved by the Town Board. The board voted in July to require Prime Mohawk to prepare a full environmental impact statement, a process likely to last for months.

In the early 1950s, the property was used by General Electric and the U.S. Navy for research and development activities, according to DEC files. DEC officials believe the contamination dates from that era, when there were at least four documented fuel spills.

DEC's brownfields tax credit program is specifically designed to encourage private investment in and reuse of contaminated sites. Since 2003, DEC says more than 300 sites have been redeveloped under the brownfields program.

Comments can be submitted before Oct. 20 to site Project Manager Josh Haugh at NYSDEC, 1130 North Westcott Road, Schenectady, NY 12306-2014; via email at [email protected]; or by calling 518-357-2008.

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