City Council backs extension of freeze
By Jeff Simms
A six-month moratorium on most residential and commercial construction in Beacon expired on March 26, but nearly all members of the City Council have said they want to extend it.
The council adopted the freeze in September because of what it said were concerns about whether the city’s water supply could handle the hundreds of apartments and condos being planned or under construction. If the council adopts a second moratorium, it could be backdated so there’s no gap between the two, City Administrator Anthony Ruggiero said.
Frank Fish, a principal at BFJ Planning, which helped revise the city’s comprehensive plan in 2017, last year noted that moratoriums are typically utilized when a municipality identifies an issue, such as water, that can be addressed within a given time frame.
“I’ve seen them work very successfully, but if you don’t get going on some remedial action during the moratorium, you’ve negated the reason for doing it,” he said.
After a consultant hired by the city found its water supply to be sufficient even with the projected growth, the council would presumably need a reason to extend the moratorium. At its March 19 meeting, Council Member Lee Kyriacou noted the council had begun rezoning much of Beacon during the moratorium but had not completed the task.
How much water?
A consulting firm hired by the city reported earlier this month that the water supply, even with new construction, would be stable for nearly two decades. On Monday (March 26), Thomas Cusack, a senior vice president with Leggette, Brashears & Graham, defended the report after some in Beacon questioned its assumption that each resident will use about 55 gallons of water each day.
Cusack called the firm’s projections, which were based on residential meter readings from 2013 to 2017, “very conservative,” but some residents cited a U.S. Geological Survey estimate that the average American uses 80 to 100 gallons per day.
Cusack said those and other numbers are “not representative” of Beacon. “We have a very good understanding of the population and we’ve come up with what we feel is a very comfortable number at 55 gallons a day,” he said. “That tends to be what I would see for this type of municipality, historically.”
The report concluded that Beacon is capable of producing 4.09 million gallons per day, even accounting for drought conditions, through 2035. Comparing that to population projections in a maximum “build-out” scenario, Leggette projected peak daily needs at 3.83 million gallons per day, with an average of 3.07, still within the system’s anticipated yield.
Cusack also defended Beacon’s long-term agreement with Fishkill to purchase more than a million gallons each day, saying, “it’s a moneymaker for them. I would assume they want to keep that.” About a third of the communities he’s worked with purchase water from neighboring municipalities, he said.