Keen Equities LLC, the company behind the construction project known as Clovewood or Divrei Chaim in the village of South Blooming in Orange County is on the hook for $150,000 after the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) levied penalties against the company for defying multiple stop-work orders.
New York State Senator, James Skoufis, said in a statement on March 14, “Today the Department of Environmental Conservation took action against South Blooming Grove’s scofflaw developers,” adding that, “After years of Clovewood’s flagrant disregard for serious environmental concerns spanning water, sewer, and wildlife impacts; six total stop-work orders being issued by the DEC; and direct calls for action by my office and concerned residents, we’re finally seeing come enforcement by state regulators.”
In addition to the $150,000 fine the company may be required to pay an additional $78,007 should the company fail to comply with the agency’s orders.
The project aims to build 600 single-family homes on a 700-acre site in the village of South Blooming.
The company is accused of conducting unauthorized work which is impacting the habitat of timber rattlesnakes, a threatened species, working without DEC permits, and violating water quality standards for turbidity (Having sediment or foreign particles stirred up or suspended).
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“DEC is committed to holding violators accountable for damaging the environment and, for months, Keen Equities ignored the requirements necessary to protect water and habitat,” DEC Regional Director Kelly Turturro said according to a DEC statement on the matter.
“DEC’s enforcement action is the latest step in NEw York State’s efforts to bring this site into compliance, and our staff will continue to closely oversee this site to ensure the consent order and our stringent laws and regulations are followed,” Turturro added.
Work has not completely stopped at the site. The developers, until they obtain the proper permits, can still work on soil stabilization.
Locals have said that excavators have continued to clear a level parts of the project over the past year, removing trees and laying roads that lead to six village wells that will serve the future housing development, the Times Herald-Record reported.
“This is one of the largest fines DEC has issued in recent years and I applaud the department for assessing these substantial penalties, a strong step to counter this high-density disaster. My office and I will continue to monitor the developers and, in the meantime, our message is clear: no one is above the law,” Skoufis said.
The village of South Blooming Grove was first formed in 2006, and the Clovewood/Divrei Chaim project wasn’t proposed until 2018.
The project was locally approved in 2022 following a lengthy environmental review during which time the Village Board turned over entirely and a new mayor, who supports the project, was elected.
The development, once complete, could double the village’s population which currently boasts approximately 4,000 residents.