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MCK applies for permit to remove Marcellus dam

MCK Building Associates submitted a permit application to the DEC Friday, June 6 to tear down the Upper Crown Mill Dam.

The DEC made clear that previous to that date, MCK had not submitted a permit application.

"As of Friday when he applied for the permit, he had chosen to take the dam out and we will review his application to see if we will be issuing the necessary permits," Diane Carlton, regional public affairs and education officer for the DEC, said.

The DEC offers developers options when constructing or improving property along Nine Mile Creek; They can fix or remove the dam.

"It's a misconception that the DEC told him to take it out," Carlton said. "The DEC did not tell him to take out the dam. We give developers the options to repair, improve or take out the dams. We don't give developer one option and one option only."

The DEC will begin reviewing the permit application, a process that could take 60 days or more.

"There will be three to four different departments working on this so their combined knowledge and expertise can be applied in the review."

The environmental permits administration, bureau of habitat, fisheries department, and storm water department will each review the site to decide if removing the dam is a viable option for the site.

Carlton said removal of dams usually improves fisheries for two reasons, it makes for easier fish passage and improves the water temperature. At the top of dams, the sun shines on standing water, raising the temperature. Cold water fish prefer the lower temperatures of the moving water.

"We'll be coordinating with our fisheries department and habitat unit to see if the removal will save, preserve or improve fisheries," Carlton said.

Neighbors in the area are upset about the dam's removal, but Carlton said that if the DEC reviews the site and there are no environmental concerns, there is nothing the department can do.

"The neighbors would like to see the dam remain there for historical reasons," she said. "That was an option the developer had and he chose not to do that. We can't make him leave it in. If he wanted to spend the money to repair it, we would have allowed him to do it. It was his prerogative to do that or not to do that."

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