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Save land from government confiscation


Jaegun Lee has once again written a very pertinent and timely article on July 14, on an issue that will affect all of the residents and taxpayers of Lake Ontario’s watershed.

As a property owner on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, I have a different perspective and prior experiences than the property owners of the river valley. However, some of the comments in this article from Mr. Willbanks are outright disinformation, inane or oblivious to reality on the lake.

Supporters of the plan question why taxpayers should bail out people who build on flood plains. There is a short answer here and, of course, it is expedient to ignore: the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in the Bill of Rights. This was included by the founders to protect all citizens from uncompensated confiscation of their properties by despots or their servants, foreign or domestic.

By this logic, let’s move the city of Montreal, as it is sitting in the flood plain of the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa, definitely not worth bailing out or saving. Maybe we could shut down New Orleans, too.

The authoritative, problem-solving trigger levels are quite frankly useless. The catastrophic trigger level of 248 feet in the spring will be occurring during the winter thaw/freshet flowing into Lake Ontario.

Unfortunately, the simultaneous freshet pouring into the St. Lawrence from the Ottawa River at Montreal will preclude letting any meaningful water out of Lake Ontario. The maximum amount, under ideal conditions, that can be drained from Lake Ontario is an inch a week, thus it will take at least two months to get below the International Joint Commission’s own established danger level (1973) of 246.7 feet.

Whether the average annual damages and destruction are $2.2 million or much higher, unless compensated for, and whatever the millions might be in a given year, those damages and destruction are confiscation by the government. Legislation pending will raise the cost of flood insurance by anywhere from 100 to 1,000 percent, another nail in the coffin. It is outrageous that the New York Power Authority will gain $5 millon-plus in profits each year while that equivalent money is drained from the residents and economies around the lake.

Studies by the University of California have found that wetland restoration, natural or attempted by man, takes generations and never passes 75 to 80 percent return to normal diversity of fauna and flora. That was a global study and not connected to a politically sensitive treaty’s ratification. So, much of the environmental mantra of Mr. Willbank’s Save the River and company is in reality pie in the sky at the almost total expense of the shoreline/riparian interests on Lake Ontario.

Richard L. Henry


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