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New Castle Gives Last Chance For Mosque Comments

NEW CASTLE, N.Y. - New Castle residents will have one last chance to comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed West End mosque before the Zoning Board of Appeals closes the public hearing Friday.

The public hearing opened in June and was immediately met with resistance by many locals who said they were concerned with traffic, septic, lighting, noise and other environmental issues that could come with 24,000-square-foot building at 130 Pinesbridge Road.

Representatives from the Upper Westchester Muslim Society most recently met with the Planning Board during a special work session on Aug. 7. During the meeting, Chair Richard Brownell stressed that the discussion should not focus on religious tolerance and other matters that don’t pertain to the DEIS.

“We are looking at the environmental aspects of this application,” Brownell said. “And that is wetlands, tree removal and, to a minor extent, buffer zones.”

Michael Zarion, the UWMS' attorney, said the application will require several permits for environmental protection overlay, tree conservation and steep slopes before it can be approved.

Zarion said 192 town regulated trees - four inches or greater - will be removed from the property during construction. While UWMS will be adding 32 new "specimen trees," he said not all of the 192 trees will be replaced.

Zarion also said the project will be affecting 2.06 acres of the property's 4.63 acres of buffer zone. A buffer zone is an area alongside wetlands that protects water resources by filtering contaminants from surface runoff water.

To reduce the effect on buffer zones and trees, several board members suggested cutting back the number of parking spaces on the site. The proposal currently includes 121 regular and 79 overflow spaces, for a total of 200.

The next step in the process will be for UWMS to take the comments from the public and from town officials and prepare a Final Environmental Impact Study (FEIS) for the Zoning Board, which Brownell said “will take some period of time.”

Written comments can be submitted to UWMSDEIS@town.new-castle.ny.us.

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