Harmony with Nature
Principle: Harmony with Nature
Ensure that the contributions of natural resources to human well-being are explicitly recognized and valued and that maintaining their health is a primary objective.
Goal 15. Protect and maintain the Town’s environmentally sensitive areas and natural resources
The Town’s environmentally sensitive areas and natural resources include its wetlands, wildlife, open space corridors, steep slopes, watersheds, rivers and streams, lakes and ponds, trees and forests, flood plains, aquifers (potable and non-potable), special rock outcrops, view sheds/scenic vistas and ridgelines. The Environmental Protection Overlay regulations and environmental review process should be reviewed and strengthened, where necessary. The Town should revisit its code provisions for the off-site mitigation of environmental impacts, including wetland disturbance and tree cutting, with the objective of minimizing the transformation of our habitat, forest and wetlands and allowing for flexibility in the location of mitigation efforts (e.g. off-site but with a higher mitigation factor) and type of mitigation plantings (e.g. shrubs should be allowed to replace trees where appropriate). The creation of aquifer overlay districts should be considered. Education materials should be provided for the public and land developers regarding the ecological impact of development, the permitting process and mitigation requirements
Review and strengthen existing Environmental Protection Overlay and environmental review process to ensure adequate protection of wetlands, wildlife, wildlife and open space corridors, steep slopes, watersheds, rivers and streams, lakes and ponds, trees and forests, flood plains, aquifers, potable aquifers, special rock outcrops, and ridgelines.
Explore the feasibility of amending the existing wetland mitigation statutory requirement to allow for off-site mitigation within the same drainage basin.
Revisit tree replacement statutory requirements to allow planting of shrubbery in addition to trees to enhance quality of mitigation plantings and natural habitat. Consideration should be given to the definition of shrubbery, criteria to equate the value brought by shrubbery versus trees, etc.
Review tree removal regulations to ensure statuatory requirements are sufficient in protecting ecologically and historically significant trees.
Create public education materials regarding tree removal regulations (i.e. ecological impact, criteria for removal, permitting process, mitigation requirements).
Create education materials for landscape contractors regarding proper management and maintenance of riparian areas.
Goal 16. Promote plant and animal biodiversity through the restoration, connection and protection of natural habitats
The Town should develop a Natural Resources Index (NRI) that inventories and maps different flora and fauna, as well as their respective habitats. This information should be used in a Town-wide Biodiversity Management Plan, which should outline a more systematic approach to support and protect biodiversity. If appropriate, code modifications should be made to help manage and protect these species and habitats. A Town-wide NRI and Biodiversity Plan can be developed in partnership with neighboring municipalities, the NYSDEC, and other local environmental organizations, and as a result, can help strengthen inter-municipal biodiversity protection efforts.
Prepare a comprehensive Town-wide Biodiversity Management Plan that includes a Natural Resources Index (NRI), supports regional sustainability and is coordinated with the Town’s Open Space Management Plan.
Work with the DEC and the Town’s environmental boards or other volunteers to identify and map different habitat areas and species to be included in the NRI. The NRI should include an updated list of endangered/threatened species as well as detail why these species are critical to the biodiversity of the area.
Create protection areas, corridors and regulations that protect habitat areas. Coordinate with the review and revision of the Open Space Management Plan.
Goal 17. Manage and reduce the impacts of dangerous and/or invasive plants and animals (e.g. deer, coyotes, vines)
Invasive plants and animals are incredibly disruptive to native species habitats and ecosystems, greatly contribute to a loss of biodiversity, and can often be a nuisance to human populations. The Town should identify invasive plants and animals, as well as their impact on local habitats, and develop a plan to reduce those impacts. Residents should be provided with educational materials that address the control of vines and invasive plants and the Town should continue to disseminate information found in the Town’s Coyote Response Plan to help residents understand coyote behavior and enhance awareness of safety techniques.
Identify invasive species (plants and animals) and their impacts on local habitats.
Develop an (invasive species) action plan to reduce identified impacts.
Continue to disseminate information found in the Town’s Coyote Response Plan to help residents understand coyote behavior and enhance awareness of safety techniques.
Provide residents with educational materials that address the control of vines and invasive plants.
Goal 18. Protect and manage open spaces and undeveloped lands
In 1998, the Town completed an open space inventory and plan that identified and evaluated the Town’s remaining open spaces and the potential for linking existing open space parcels located throughout the Town. The Town should update the open space inventory and develop an Open Space Management Policy (OSMP) to maintain and seek to expand areas of open space quality, Town parks and preserves, and biotic corridors. The update should also examine and map how the Town’s open spaces connect with open spaces in neighboring towns that abut New Castle. The OSMP should be updated in close coordination with the development of an NRI/Biodiversity Management Plan and the update of the Town’s Recreation and Parks Master Plan and Trail Development Master Plan. Locally significant view sheds/scenic vistas should be identified and mapped and included in the Plan, and if appropriate, regulations for the protection of view sheds/scenic vistas should be codified.
Update Town’s Open Space Management Plan. The OSMP should include defined “open space” criteria and catalog properties based on diversity of habitat, connectivity to other properties of open space value, and potential use for recreational purposes. Large lots should be examined for their contribution to open space value.
Identify and map locally significant scenic vistas.
Codify protection of scenic vistas.
Goal 19. Mitigate the negative impacts of stormwater runoff and plan for a lasting potable water supply
The Town should require that all new developments include green infrastructure (GI) features, which not only help to reduce flooding and offset stormwater loading on existing drainage infrastructure, but also help to facilitate a natural filtration process and improve water quality. The Town should create incentives (e.g. additional density, reduced parking) for retrofitting existing developments to include GI features. Where appropriate, development on Town-owned property should include them as well. The Town should also require applicants to assess how their project could impact stormwater runoff flow into nearby water courses, pipe networks and properties. These hydrologic and hydraulic analyses should include water quality (i.e. chemical composition) and quantity (i.e. peak flows and volume) provisions. In order to plan for a lasting and sustainable water supply, the Town should consider conducting a Town-wide or targeted area aquifer study to assess the quantity and quality of groundwater and should look to expand the Town’s public water supply system where practicable.
Require green infrastructure techniques (e.g. permeable surfaces, vegetated infiltration basins) for new developments through Town regulations.
Create incentives for retrofitting existing developments to include green infrastructure features to reduce storm flow runoff and increase infiltration of rainfall.
Include green infrastructure features on Town-owned properties where appropriate.
Require applicants to incorporate hydrologic and hydraulic analyses of water courses and pipe networks (i.e. test water quality, chemical composition, volume and peak flows) that could be impacted by their development in their site plan application.
Consider conducting a Town-wide or targeted area aquifer study to assess quantity and quality of groundwater.
Goal 20. Encourage water conservation and reuse
The Town of New Castle’s favorable geographic location within the Hudson River Valley makes it rich with water. However, it is still important that the Town and its residents use water resources intelligently. Projected impacts of climate change in New York State include an increase in frequency of short-term droughts “with weeks of dry conditions punctuated by rains too intense for parched soils to absorb.” Water conservation measures such as adjusting the timing of outdoor sprinkler systems or installation of low-flow shower heads can help to conserve water in dry summer months, or when a “short-term drought” lasts longer than expected. To encourage water conservation, a Town-wide water conservation and reuse program should be established, and Town operations should be examined to assess where water can be reused. The Town should encourage xeriscaping (landscaping that requires little to no irrigation) and alternative graywater and rainwater use/reuse through research and education.
Establish a Town-wide water conservation and reuse program.
Encourage alternative graywater and rainwater use/reuse through research and education. Promote xeriscaping where appropriate.
Examine Town operations to assess where water can be reused.
Goal 21. Ensure the sustainability/resiliency of infrastructure
Maximizing the efficiency of infrastructure can help to make infrastructure more resilient. The Town should adopt codes or design standards for new public infrastructure that will increase energy and water efficiency, if applicable. The Town should also develop targeted strategies and make specific upgrades to public infrastructure systems to improve resource efficiency. In many cases, this will mean enhancing data collection and monitoring of the infrastructure through the use of smart technology (e.g. installing web-enabled sensors at critical manholes to continually gage water flow, installing smart water meters). Lastly, the Town should develop training programs for infrastructure operators on energy and water efficiency techniques that can be incorporated into their daily activities and operations.
Adopt codes or design standards for new public infrastructure that will increase energy and water efficiency. Utilize a green or sustainability rating system for infrastructure improvement projects.
Develop targeted strategies to improve the resource efficiency of public infrastructure systems (e.g. data collection, continual monitoring).
Make specific upgrades to infrastructure systems that will increase energy and water efficiency, such as sensors at critical manholes to continually gage water flow, replacement/upgrades to smart water meters.
Develop training programs for infrastructure operators on energy and water efficiency techniques that can be incorporated into their daily activities.
Goal 22. Ensure sustainable construction and design of buildings to minimize their environmental impact throughout their lifecycle
The way in which a building is designed, constructed, operated and maintained determines its impact on the natural environment, as well as on the building’s occupants, for its entire lifecycle. Green buildings are designed and operated to be resource-efficient, to generate less waste and pollution, and to serve as healthy environments for occupants. Green buildings can also provide economic benefits (e.g. reduced energy costs, higher home values) well into the future. Buildings in New Castle should be as high-performing and as sustainable as possible. The Town’s existing green building code, which can be found within Chapter 74 of the Town Code, should be examined to ensure it reflects the best practices in materials, building systems, and operations, to the extent practicable. The Town should consider adopting a stretch code that requires more rigorous energy regulations for newly constructed and existing buildings that have been renovated than the base energy code. Educational material regarding the benefits of green building practices should be developed to promote sustainable construction.
Review application of green building code and its applicability to all types of development, including a broader range of municipal, commercial, and single and multi-family residential buildings.
Consider adopting a stretch code that requires more rigorous energy regulations for newly constructed and existing buildings than the base energy code. Utilize NYSERDA’s model stretch code language, available at the end of 2016.
Explore ways to strengthen Town code and enforcement provisions regarding construction and demolition site management and clean-up.
Partner with local contractors to develop educational materials to promote green building practices.
Goal 23. Promote proper maintenance and sustainability of wastewater disposal systems
A majority of residential properties in the Town are not sewered and rely on subsurface sewage disposal (septic) systems for wastewater disposal. It is critical to ensure that septic systems are properly maintained so that they do not negatively impact soils and water quality (ground and surface water). The Westchester County Department of Health permits and regulates septic systems. The Town of New Castle should promote proper use and maintenance of septic systems through its website, annual Town-wide mailing and other means. The Town should work with Westchester County and the Northern Westchester Watershed Committee to establish a program to repair or replace failing and substandard septic systems.
Work with Westchester Department of Health, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and the East of Hudson Watershed Coalition to collect information regarding septic system maintenance and performance to ensure continued compliance with the Town’s MS4 permit.
Include maintenance reminder and septic system education in annual Town mailing.
Work with Westchester County and the Northern Westchester Watershed Committee to establish a program (including financial assistance) to repair or replace failing and substandard septic systems.
Goal 24. Reduce pollution from buildings, transportation, commerce and human activity
The Town of New Castle considers air, light, noise and odor impacts associated with new development. Existing codes should be revised so that they are in keeping with best environmental practices. In addition, the Town should develop innovative outreach efforts to educate the public on the existence of pollutants in the environment, their source, and what role residents can play in decreasing pollution. Topics should include greenhouse gas emissions; energy efficiency and renewable energy; septic system maintenance; proper use and disposal of pesticides, detergents and other household chemicals; and resource conservation.
Work with the Town’s relevant review boards and committees to create innovative outreach campaigns to educate the public on environmental pollutants and promote behavioral change.
Organize school and community “green teams” to promote household practices that reduce GHG emissions, such as increased recycling.
Review and revise New Castle Town codes pertaining to air, light, noise and odor to meet best practice. In consideration of light pollution regulations, view of the nightscape should be preserved when safety is not a concern. Specific attention should be paid to differing land uses (i.e. residential, commercial).
Create Air Action Plan to reduce air pollution from various sources (e.g. building and vehicle emissions).
Consider regulating landscaping and plantings to minimize obstruction of sunlight on neighboring properties.
Adopt a waste management plan that identifies the community’s greatest sources of waste, sets formal waste reduction targets and establishes actions to help reach the community’s waste reduction aims. This should include food waste from both residential and commercial uses.
Create or revise existing recycling program to include recycling targets and assessment of the feasibility of creating a compost collection service and ensuring recycling is provided at all events held by the Town, etc.
Promote the concept/educate the public about the environmental benefits of residential waste reduction and recycling. Inform residents and businesses in their roles in achieving waste reduction targets.
Develop a sustainable and environmentally preferable municipal purchasing policy (e.g. paper products, office supplies, kitchen supplies) and implement. Work with the Chappaqua Central School District to do the same.
Obtain services for recycling or proper disposal of obscure items including e-waste, aerosols, and medications. Ensure residents are aware of these services, or where they can access these services if the Town is not able to provide them. Encourage the use of the “Take It or Leave It Shop.”
Goal 25. Reduce the Town’s carbon footprint, encourage climate change adaptation measures, minimize energy demand and promote the use of alternative energy
Local municipalities are susceptible to climate change, but also have a unique opportunity to both mitigate and adapt to its effects. Mitigation measures are those that decrease a community’s greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint. These measures, which span from smart land use to energy efficiency techniques to renewable energy installations, will decrease long term spending, enhance the resiliency of all infrastructure and have a net positive impact on the environment. The Town should update its Climate Action Plan, set new greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goals, and consider investments in renewable energy installations, energy efficiency retrofits, and other alterations in Town operations to reduce GHG pollution. The Town should consider pursuing certification as a Climate Smart Community through the DEC to become eligible for funding to aid in these endeavors.
Update the Town’s Climate Action Plan. Include an updated inventory of government operations and overall community GHG emissions.
Establish a new government operations emissions reduction target and implementation plan. Include targets for percent of government energy sourced from renewable energy (produced on-site or purchased from a utility) and targets for increased energy efficiency.
Perform feasibility analyses to identify potential sites for renewable energy installations on government-owned properties and explore partnerships with schools, institutions, and homeowners associations to consider renewable energy installations on their properties.
Create an inventory of all funding opportunities for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the State. Pursue those that are appropriate.
Integrate energy efficiency projects and renewable energy installations into the Town’s Capital Improvement Plan.
Work with the Economic Incentive Corporation (EIC) to create a public and business education campaign for Energize NY Benefit Financing Program.
Perform feasibility analyses for microgrids, especially at sites of critical infrastructure (e.g. supermarkets, schools, other critical uses).
Perform feasibility analyses for combined heat and power and geothermal installations in neighborhoods and subdivisions.
Adopt a Town green fleet policy that incorporates energy efficiency criteria for acquiring municipal vehicles.
Complete retrofit of incandescent streetlights to LEDs. If necessary, create LED lighting best practices policy and update Town code accordingly.