Earth Matters: Persistent threat to Leeds Pond

Earth Matters: Persistent threat to Leeds Pond
Lynn Capuano, President Terrapin Environmental Solutions Inc.

About two months ago, I wrote about a threat to Leeds Pond in the Village of Plandome Manor, between Manhasset and Port Washington, due to the construction of a single-family residential home and associated landscaping.

On July 20 the local Board of Zoning Appeals approved the property developer’s request to store 350 cubic yards of fill, or soil, on the site adjacent to Leeds Pond.

A neighboring property owner filed an Article 78 proceeding in response to this decision.  An Article 78 action is a special proceeding to obtain judicial review of an administrative action.  Matters subject to an Article 78 proceeding include zoning decisions such as the one allowing 350 cubic yards of fill at 1362 Plandome Road.

The basis for requesting judicial review of the BZA’s decision is fourfold and involves arguments that the BZA’s decision was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion and a legal error.

These arguments are based on BZA’s failure to consider the environmental impact of its decision and failure to apply any standard when considering the developer’s application to leave the fill on site.

Additional legal violations articulated include that the BZA improperly identified the type of matter under New York State’s Environmental Quality Review Act and went into executive sessions without basis.  Of primary concern is the environmental impact of the decision.

In an amendment to its application, the developer offered a site plan for stormwater management to address concerns regarding the damage to the pond from runoff from the property.

Stormwater management seeks to address the harm caused by stormwater falling on impervious surfaces and, among other issues, flowing into a nearby water body along with the pollutants it picks up on its way.  The developer’s plan included the installation of dry wells.

A dry well is installed underground at the lowest point of the space.  With the help of gravity, water flows to this point and instead of continuing on its previous path, it flows into the dry well and from there into the surrounding soil.  On Long Island, this allows the stormwater to be cleaned as it travels through the soil to the groundwater.

Unfortunately, after the dry well was installed, it was documented to be nearly full of water.  This indicated that it was too close to the groundwater and was filling with groundwater.  It would be useless for managing stormwater since it was already full of water and incapable of collecting any water.

Instead, stormwater would flow directly into the pond along with the pollutants it picked up along the way. Additionally, it would cause overflow of the dry well, sending the groundwater in the dry well into the pond as well.

The water in the dry well was tested and found to have elevated nitrogen content. The soil the BZA allowed to stay on the property has thousands of pounds of nitrogen and phosphorus in it.  It will wash into the pond during any rain event.

Nitrogen and phosphorus at these levels stimulate the growth of algae and cause harmful algal blooms.  This will worsen as the fill washes into the pond and changes the water depth of the pond. Shallower water gets warmer which further promotes algal blooms.

Algal blooms kill off other life in the pond, causing a ripple effect of death and degradation. Leeds Pond is already an impaired water body with excessive levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, algal blooms, blue-green algae, fecal coliform bacteria, algal toxins saxitoxin and microcystin.

Conditions will worsen with warmer temperatures and additional levels of nitrogen and phosphorus.

Why write about this?

For one reason: to raise awareness of local environmental issues and how each of us, individually and collaboratively, can protect our natural resources.

Leeds Pond may be a small spot, but it feeds into Manhasset Bay, which feeds into Long Island Sound, which feeds into the Atlantic Ocean.

From there, water travels the globe.  Don’t underestimate the importance of what happens outside your front door and in your neighborhood to the larger natural world. To help protect Leeds Pond , you can start by visiting

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here