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Home Government Mistakes Regarding Schubert Property "Swept Under The Carpet" According to Former Rye...

Mistakes Regarding Schubert Property “Swept Under The Carpet” According to Former Rye City Naturalist

Former Rye City Naturalist Chantal Detlefs says errors were made, standard procedures were not followed regarding Rye resident Bob Schubert's wetland garden and City Manager Paul Shew had things "swept under the carpet" (see Schubert: Two Hours of "Interrogation"; Doubts Shew's Sincerity and Schubert and the Shew Sham: Who is Crazy Now?). Schubert, a constant at the open mic portion of city council meetings, has asked Rye to take responsibility for the loss of water on his property, alleging violation of wetland code by a neighbor.

Chantal Detlefs served as Rye City Naturalist from 1999 to 2006. Prior to serving as naturalist, she was an environmental educator at the Rye Nature Center. She currently teaches science at a private school in Connecticut.

Detlefs' entire statement to MyRye.com follows:

Paul Shew whistle 2 "I can’t stay quiet anymore!  When I read that Paul Shew had a psychiatrist evaluate Mr. Schubert I was appalled.   Mr. Schubert isn’t crazy he is severely angry and rightfully so.  My name is Chantal Detlefs and I was the City Naturalist at the time the neighboring project was evaluated by the City Engineer.  Normally I would have had a chance to review the project and make a determination as to whether the project may or may not be subject to Chapter 195: Wetland and Watercourses, of the City of Rye Code.  Unfortunately in this case I was on vacation but I designated my duties to the Building Inspector never the City Engineer, as required by our vacation leave form.  I want to make myself clear…….It has always been policy to defer Naturalist Determinations until the Naturalist has returned from leave and if that was not possible a wetlands consultant was hired to perform the Determinations.  The Building Inspector and City Engineer never before performed Naturalist Determinations while I was on vacation leave.

 When I came back from my vacation it was bought to my attention that a project on the neighboring property was reviewed and it was determined that a building permit was not needed for the project because it was a repair to existing structures.  Looking at the plans I noticed that the proposed replacement pipes are smaller than the original pipes.  This is not replacement in kind but the Wetland and Watercourses code does read that any repair of an existing structure “shall not be expanded, changed, enlarged or altered in such a way that increases its nonconformity without a permit”.  So one would think that smaller pipes do not increase the nonconformity of the existing structure but its affect may.  The larger issue is that a drywell was on the proposed plan and no drywell existed on the property.  That clearly is not replacement in kind and definitely increases the nonconformity of the existing structure.

So should there have been a building permit?  That was not for me to judge but had there been a chance for me to review the project I would have definitely checked the box stating “may be subject to the requirements of Chapter 195: Wetlands and Watercourses.  The neighboring property usually had standing water on it and it was also delineated as a wetland.  The project was definitely subject to Chapter 195.  I discussed my opinion with several staff members.  I don’t recall exactly when Mr. Schubert’s complaints started in the process but once they did the City Manager asked me to write up what had happened. Staff had several meetings with the City Manager and in many occasions I made it clear that an error had been made.   It was heard and known but swept under the carpet and Mr. Shew decided to deal with the issue in a different manner.  I am a respectful employee and therefore followed the direction that my boss requested.  I regret it but at the time there was no way I was going to go up against Mr. Shew.

I met with Mr. Schubert on many occasions but I did not say anything about my opinion although I know he sensed that I was doing what was expected of me not what I thought was right. 

While looking into the matter, it was discovered that Mr. Schubert had a wetlands permit on his property when he was doing work.  In fact I think it might have been the first wetland permit.  In the file there is a report stating the Mr. Schubert’s pond is fed by surface water and provisions were made to preserve the pond.  Placing a drywell on the neighboring property diverts water into the ground therefore taking away surface water which might have fed Shubert’s pond.  I say might because I don’t know of any evidence confirming or denying a connection between the two properties water, but it seems obvious. 

I also want to bring attention to another portion of Chapter 195. In 195-1 under the intent of the code it starts “It is the intent of the City of Rye that activities in wetlands, watercourses and wetland/watercourse buffers conform with all applicable building codes, sediment control regulations and other regulations and that such activities not threaten public safety, the natural environment or cause nuisances by:  Adversely altering the recharge or discharge functions of wetlands, thereby impacting groundwater or surface water supplies”.  Mr. Schubert claims that to work done on the neighboring property adversely altered the recharge functions of his wetland.  Why has there been no investigation into this matter.  If the City did look into it then where is the statement from professionals confirming or denying his allegations?  And nowhere does it say that the burden of proof lie with the property owner making the complaint.  It is the City’s responsibility to ensure that the code has or has not been violated.   

A few last things…. 

I am not stating that the City Engineer has done something wrong.  I am stating that he made a mistake.  We all make them. 

This is a difficult thing for me to do.  Those of you who know me know that. I am not the type of person to cause controversy but I am a person who is honest and has a hard time sitting back when I see something wrong.

Lastly, I apologize to Mr. Schubert for not coming forward earlier I know it has caused him tremendous heartache."

20 COMMENTS

  1. Well it’s long past due but someone from inside City Hall has finally the courage to speak the truth to power under the Otis Administration.

    Thank You Ms. Detlefs.

    City Council Members? You will now be engaged in a fresh examination of the issues here. Please don’t trust anyone who has managed the information on this matter to date. They have served you atrociously and you’re not stupid. There’s been like a cancer growing in our City for a number of years – something you’ve become increasingly aware of even though it’s difficult to admit.

    You’ve now heard from some of Rye’s most distinguished citizens who had jobs like yours in the past and who gave you sincere practical advice on how to proceed. Do them one better, show them your serious about getting to the bottom of this and the Hen Island issues and then – don’t stop there.

  2. Chantal was a trusted and dedicated City of Rye employee. Chantal is not the type of person to come forward unless she felt someone was wronged.

    This is a bombshell. It clearly implicates wrongdoing and a very intentional coverup by Otis, Shew and the City of Rye.

    This is the time for the rest of the Rye City Council to come forward to say they were not involved in the coverup, but were fed false information by Shew and Otis. This would also be the time to fire Shew immediately.

  3. Have Shew and Plunkett been lying to the Rye City Council all along?

    Did Otis and the Rye City Council know about Chantal’s complaints and were they implicit in the coverup of wrongdoing and the discrimination of Mr. Schubert?

    It is time for Shew to get fired. If he does not get fired, then I think we all know the answers to the above.

  4. So Rye now has its own “Watergate” scandal that is now (hopefully) entering its final chapters with Chantal’s astounding revelation. Thankfully, this was not drawn out for weeks or months with a “Deep Throat” style unnamed source. Chantal is brave, perhaps even foolhardy to do what she’s done – but even if it’s late, it shows character.
    What do adults do when they realize an error was made? They take the necessary steps to correct the error. It remains to be seen if Otis and the rest of the council will do what is right to correct past mistakes. Are they adult enough to fix the problem?
    Bob has been asking for the council to do this for the better part of 3 years. They alone have the power to direct Shew to take corrective action. Demanding that Shew be fired, therefore, is not appropriate – the city council should be voted out of office if they don’t move immediately to either start enforcing the wetlands law or to remove it from the city code.
    You might think that Otis and the council will move to enforce it, but you’d probably be wrong. I hope Chantal is prepared for payback – this is something that politicians do very well. Don’t fix the problem, fix the blame.
    My hat is off to MyRye for “scooping” both the Rye Sound Shore Review and the Rye Record with Chantal’s bombshell.
    Being a conspiracy nu, I also wonder if there’s a connection between Bob’s neighbor or his contractor and the mayor or city engineer. Any Ellory Queens out there?

  5. Bob Schubert deserves # 1 his water back #2 a formal apology and #3 he should be repaid for any expenses he has expanded as a result of Mr. Shew’s actions. I believe Mr. Shew and anyone else involved in this horrific cover-up that has not or will not come forward should be criminally charged. Everyone coming forward to aid in the investigation should be given immunity in order to get the “big fishes”. The city employees were and are just fearful of losing their jobs and not being able to support their families (understandably so) as Chantal was. This is frequently done on a federal level with gangsters to break the code of silence. It is my understanding (and I am no lawyer or prosecutor) that when two people converse with the intent to break the law, it is conspiracy. This is just the tip of the iceberg and as you will see after everyone starts to talk. The Hen Island controversy is much more intricate, involving Health commissioners on a County level and many many more. Great Job MYRYE.com

  6. § 195.00 Official misconduct.
    A public servant is guilty of official misconduct when, with intent to
    obtain a benefit or deprive another person of a benefit:
    1. He commits an act relating to his office but constituting an
    unauthorized exercise of his official functions, knowing that such act
    is unauthorized; or
    2. He knowingly refrains from performing a duty which is imposed upon
    him by law or is clearly inherent in the nature of his office.
    Official misconduct is a class A misdemeanor.

    § 145.25 Reckless endangerment of property.
    A person is guilty of reckless endangerment of property when he
    recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of damage
    to the property of another person in an amount exceeding two hundred
    fifty dollars.
    Reckless endangerment of property is a class B misdemeanor.

    § 210.35 Making an apparently sworn false statement in the second
    degree.
    A person is guilty of making an apparently sworn false statement in
    the second degree when (a) he subscribes a written instrument knowing
    that it contains a statement which is in fact false and which he does
    not believe to be true, and (b) he intends or believes that such
    instrument will be uttered or delivered with a jurat affixed thereto,
    and (c) such instrument is uttered or delivered with a jurat affixed
    thereto.
    Making an apparently sworn false statement in the second degree is a
    class A misdemeanor.

    § 105.00 Conspiracy in the sixth degree.
    A person is guilty of conspiracy in the sixth degree when, with intent
    that conduct constituting a crime be performed, he agrees with one or
    more persons to engage in or cause the performance of such conduct.
    Conspiracy in the sixth degree is a class B misdemeanor.

  7. Could this be the end for Shew? Let’s hope so.

    CITY OF RYE
    NOTICE OF SPECIAL MEETING

    The City Council has called a Special Meeting for Wednesday, February 18, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. in the Mayor’s Conference Room. It is expected that the Council will adjourn into Executive Session at 8:01 p.m. to discuss personnel matters and attorney-client matters.

    AGENDA

    1. The City Council will convene into Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter and attorney-client issues related thereto.
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    The next regular meeting of the City Council will be held on Wednesday, February 25, 2009

  8. From LoHud Friday night – “At no time in over two years was the council made aware there were different views at the staff level regarding the facts of the case, Otis said.”

    Could it be that all city employees were afraid to express their views because of your iron clad support for this deeply flawed city manager? What kind of leader are you Mr. Mayor?

    If this “I was not aware, I was not informed” excuse is what you intend to peddle to the other council members this weekend then you really have no shame.

  9. Mr.Shew I have only one thing to say to you ” GOD DOESN’T LIKE UGLY ” and there is no beauty in your behavior. And to you Mayor Otis “Do you see that fading glow in the corner of your eye? It is your fading political future in THE CITY OF RYE and THE COUNTY OF WESTCHESTER. We the people will be so much better off WITHOUT YOU……THE DAYS OF THE BOYS CLUB IS OVER…

  10. In other words the Rye City Council is going to discuss this in secret with their Attorneys and Mr. Shew will be present. Shew will be allowed to hear any evidence there may be against him. Shew will be allowed to hear what the strategy of the Rye City Council is in dealing with the issue he created.

    Has Shew been forced to detail the events in writing or is the Rye City Council going to wait until they have all the evidence so Shew can then write a story around the evidence?

    What a joke.

    The Rye Charter allows the Rye City Council to investigate this matter and to issue subpoenas. Anyone refusing to testify gets fired. Anyone lying under oath gets fired and risks being charged with perjury.

    Let’s have an investigation not ANOTHER coverup of the coverup.

    § C6-3. Investigations.

    The Council may make investigations into the affairs of the city and the conduct
    of any board, commission, department, office or agency thereof and for this purpose
    may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and require the
    production of evidence.

    Any person who fails or refuses to obey a lawful order issued
    in the exercise of these powers by the Council shall be guilty of an offense
    punishable by a fine of not more than $100, or by imprisonment for not more than
    30 days, or both, and such offense shall constitute sufficient cause for suspension
    without pay for a period not exceeding two months or removal from office or
    employment.

    CITY OF RYE

    NOTICE OF SPECIAL MEETING

    The City Council has called a Special Meeting for Wednesday, February 18, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. in the Mayor’s Conference Room. It is expected that the Council will adjourn into Executive Session at 8:01 p.m. to discuss personnel matters and attorney-client matters.

    AGENDA

    1. The City Council will convene into Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter and attorney-client issues related thereto.

  11. Call Me Crazy Update –

    Thanks to everyone from around the county sending best wishes to “Camp Schubert.”

    Thanks here to Jay for his solid journalistic work.

    Thanks to those rank and file city employees putting principal first at great risk to themselves and their families. That’s real courage, equal to Bob’s.

    It ain’t over till it’s over – but progress sure has been made.

  12. This is certainly a bombshell.

    One wonders if the former city naturalist documented her thoughts on the matter at the time of the event for the record, even if she may have felt obligated in some way, at least in her own mind, to remain silent on the subject. Coming forward now is perhaps noble, but is it a case of revisionist history ….

  13. Dear almost ex-Mayor Otis, Mr. Plunkett, ,Mr. Shew and Deputy Health Commissioner Lenny Meyerson,

    Any minute someone is going to connect the dots to Hen Island…….TIC….TIC….TIC…..TIC….

    Mr. Floatie!

  14. When elected officials fail to implement environmental laws there must be a reason. Occasionally the reason is that these officials will not (or cannot) defy the vested interests of influential individuals. Often, politicians make human mistakes but are afraid to face the political and economic consequences of redressing those mistakes. And sometimes the truth lies somewhere in between. Take the case of Mr. Robert Schubert. In the summer of 2006 his wetlands garden dried up when the city of Rye allowed a neighbor to install a dry well where none had previously existed. Rye’s naturalist at that time, Chantal Detlefs (who was away when the permitting error was first made), has since categorically stated: “The only way the dry well does not require a Wetland Permit would be if one already existed in the exact same location at the exact same depth and size, etc.” (cf: Letter from Ms. Detlefs dated 02/18/09 to Rye City Mayor Otis & Council Members) Despite the clear fact that the city of Rye failed to follow through on appropriate wetlands permitting with regards to Mr. Schubert’s garden — a simple error which should have been speedily rectified — the Rye City Council has drawn out this process for more than three years. Why? During this time Mr. Schubert has been diligently trying to get the problem solved; apparently a nuisance to the city council. In a bizarre “act of concern and compassion” for Schubert, Paul Shew, Rye City Manager, actually called the Westchester County Crisis Team to “evaluate” him. Schubert contends this was done in an attempt to silence him at council meetings. Only now, with a groundswell of public outrage in support of Mr. Schubert, is the city council making any headway towards resolving this situation. Yet still at the February 25, 2009, meeting Shew had the temerity to declare public interest and support for Schubert, “just a publicity stunt.” The question is why? Are legitimate environmental issues too unimportant for Rye government to address? They shouldn’t be. That’s what more and more people concerned about protecting the environment for future generations want their cities and towns to do. So the question remains: why do environmental codes get short shrift? Similar questions hover with respect to Rye’s Hen Island. This 25-acre, privately owned island in Milton Harbor has been the subject of scrutiny by concerned locals, government officials and environmental groups such as Long Island Soundkeeper headed by Terry Backer. Few, if any, safety, sanitary or building codes are enforced on Hen Island. The question is why? Why, for instance, was Ron Gatto, the eminent lead investigator of the Westchester County Environmental Enforcement Unit, removed from the Hen Island case after he reported environmental, safety and health issues serious enough to close the island? Or should we ask “who” removed him? Why did Gatto’s successor to the Hen Island case, Westchester County Deputy Health Commissioner Len Meyerson, find no such health issues even though some open, untreated sewage pits exist less than 10 feet from the shoreline? According to Meyerson, two inspections determined no sewage was leaking into Long Island Sound. When queried by a local reporter he glossed over the issue thusly: “…Mother Earth is the best way of making sure that the pollutants are removed from human waste — from sanitary waste water.” In other words, once sewage effluents are diluted by the Sound, there’s no problem. Is this an appropriate attitude for a public health official in one of the most affluent counties in the U.S.? At the moment questions outnumber answers. To get answers, more concerned citizens need to bring pressure to bear on public officials. Insist on candor and transparency. Refuse to be brushed aside with platitudes and double-talk. Keep asking them “Why?” environmental laws and health codes are being ignored … And vote for change on November 3rd. http://healtheharbor.com/video/itsnotfunny.html

  15. Mending Wall.

    Something there is that doesn’t love a wall – nor apparently a cessation of litigation – especially when the bills are getting stuck to the taxpayers.

    It’s widely held that the previous administration hoped Bob Schubert would literally die before they would have to deal with his claims. Thus the previous administration took away from veteran Schubert one of the few things which can never be restored to him: time. Is this the legacy that will be allowed to stain this city’s name?

    You have the power to resolve this issue – a power you’ve made abundantly clear in private. Thus the Schubert affair is associated with you, not some nameless, faceless bureaucrat or distant governmental agency. There is no government, council or corporation; there are only the people of whom they are comprised – and their paid advisors. And now apparently its you – our so called interim legal advisor – not some amorphous “idea” who is perpetuating an erroneous circumvention of our permitting laws and casually ruining the last days of certain human beings.

    It is you, hiding behind the previous patchwork of misrepresentations and lies who is allowing this to continue. It is you, apparently without conscience, in the name of merely representing a previously and proven false position, who is now continuing this evil charade. What will you do with your fees from this case, anointed with the misery you have brought to your neighbors? When they are eventually eulogized your name will surely be demonized, spoken as part of the group which brought unjust destruction upon them.

    Or you can restore yourself, the new administration and Rye by doing what good neighbors do, what this country is actually all about, you can mend what is broken and correct what is wrong. You can provide solace and honesty; you can restore peace and harmony. Your license is not just to litigate but to advise; not just to attorn but to counsel. Wisdom and kindness are the temperate end of the sword of justice. Do you really feel your reputation will be enhanced by promoting a social wrong?

  16. Wow. Schubert working group stalling game issues I believe.

    So Doug – when you look out at the Vet’s from up on the podium I think you should know that they know a wrong was committed against one of their own – and that they had expected you to lead (not follow) the resolution to justice swiftly to an honorable conclusion.

    The Schubert settlement proposal as I understand it will cost the city relatively little if any dollars at all – so that’s off the table as an issue. So what’s your real agenda here? Some say the legal committee is on a deposition collection mission and I’m fully supportive of that – but on Schubert we all know its time to wrap it.

  17. Average Citizen,
    I didn’t say anything about Schubert’s pond, you did. I said “I think it is also appropriate to share with you my profound disappointment in the way The City of Rye has treated Bob Schubert and its own city environmental laws.” Maybe you should read Chantal’s letter again. Or did you miss it the first time?

  18. My Bad. I just assumed that when you mentioned how the city treated Bob, I thought you were talking about the issues with his pond. Were you not?

    Again, regardless whether someone is a veteran or a laborer, I would hope that they would be treated the same by the city. I don’t feel that “certain” people should get treated any different. This iw why I object to anybody bringing up Bob’s veteran status when discussing his pond. Even if Bob never served in the military, he still should be treated the same as anybody else who has an issue with the city.

    [Again] Do you agree?

  19. Lunchtime reading…

    PAGING RYE PLANNING COMMISSION…

    (Remember that wetland destruction relief submission from Bob Schubert you refused to hear? What was the name of the lawyer who told you that you couldn’t give Schubert and Chuck Pateman a hearing? Did any of you ask for a vote to override that false “advice?”)

    “Nicole: And I’d rather have transparency, I mean that the whole point of having the Council Meetings taped, having them indexed. You know, Joe mentioned that during the council meeting like to Steve [Fairchild], oh did you have…you know, I don’t know if the committee had… No, the committee didn’t have anything to do with that, that’s entirely me. Getting the meetings indexed, put on the web to begin with. And instead you know it’s like, oh yea they’re trying to hide something. No, we’re not trying to hide something.

    Andrew: Right

    Nicole: I mean honestly I think planning meetings should be on the web and videotaped and all that.

    Andrew: Yeah.

    Nicole: As boring as they are and I don’t wanna do them, but.

    Andrew: No, no, I know (laughs). That I know.

    Nicole: Planning Groups- the commission is dead set against it though.

    Andrew: Right.

    Nicole: (Redacted) said there’s no way they would ever agree to it.

    Andrew: Right…interesting.

    Nicole: Yeah, that may change in a few years, but…”

    http://www.lausdeo10580.com/files/levitskydapolite_phone1_0122712_p.pdf

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