Planning Board defers decision on DEIS completeness

The Geneseo Town Planning Board and Newman Development reached an agreement Monday night to extend the September 3 deadline for the board to decide whether the 900-page Draft Environment Impact Statement (DEIS) submitted by the developer is complete. The board had 45 days to make such a finding after the DEIS was submitted in July. That deadline, which was due to run out on Labor Day, was extended for one week until Sept. 10.

In the extra week, representatives from the developer and the town’s engineers are supposed to meet and try to narrow the list of incomplete items which the town’s consultants have found. Representatives from MRB Engineering and traffic consultant Stantec had produced a memo with a long list of incomplete items last week.

Representatives from Newman attempted to rebut those claims Monday, but the process was handicapped by the absence of chief MRB engineer Mike Guyon who was unable to attend the meeting. Newman representatives agreed to the one week extension, when it became clear that the board was prepared to vote that the DEIS was incomplete.

The board could still make such a finding at its next meeting on September 10. If such a finding is made, Newman would have to make changes to the DEIS and resubmit it. After re-submittal, the Planning Board would then have an additional 30 days to decide again on the completeness of the revised document.

Following acceptance of the document as complete, a public review process will take place culminating in a public hearing. The public was not allowed to comment during last night’s proceedings and a dispute has arisen as to whether the DEIS and related memos are public documents.

Newman attorney Tom Greiner said last night that he believed the DEIS should not have been made public under the Freedom of Information law. Nevertheless, the document is available for public inspection at the town hall, and PDDG member Bill Lofquist has filed a FOIL request to get copies of all memos submitted to the town by the developer’s representatives. (That FOIL, which includes Opinions from the Open Government Committee, is available as a pdf on The PDDG File.)

Lofquist reports that despite the developers attempts to hide their arguments from the public, “There are multiple advisory opinions of the Committee on Open Government which pertain directly to DEIS’s, all of which take the position that those materials prepared by the applicant and its agents are fully subject to disclosure.”

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