In a strongly-worded letter to Geneseo Planning Board Chairman Dwight Folts, Corrin Strong and Bill Lofquist of Please Don’t Destroy Geneseo have protested comments made by Newman Development Attorney Tom Greiner at Monday’s Planning Board meeting and questioned the neutrality of Chairman Folts handling of the Lowes PDD application. The pair have asked for time on the Planning Board agenda at the September 10 meeting to rebut the comments made by Greiner. (See full text of PDDG’s letter here.)
Greiner opened Monday’s meeting by suggesting that it was improper that certain “hostile interests” had received copies of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement delivered to the town in July. In their letter, Strong and Lofquist point out that the DEIS is a public document and has been available for inspection at the town hall since July.
Folts also closed the meeting Monday by stating that the presentation just made to the board by Newman representatives in an attempt to rebut the town’s consultants opinion that the DEIS was not complete was also not a public record. PDDG has protested that ruling as well and Lofquist filed an immediate FOIL request on Tuesday morning seeking a copy of that presentation.
That FOIL request included copies of four opinions from the Open Government Committee stating that such records are public records. (The FOIL request and opinions are available as a pdf on The PDDG File.)
In their letter, Lofquist and Strong further objected to “the one-sided manner in which you [Folts] have conducted these proceedings since your appointment as Chair, particularly in the conduct of Monday’s meeting.” They pointed out that a motion of no confidence had previously been made against Folts in January to disqualify him from acting as Chair in the Newman matter because he had admitted to being in private communication with the developer during the Positive Declaration process.
PDDG called on the Planning Board to make good on a promise made in January to adopt a Code of Ethics that would prohibit such private collusion between developers and members of the Planning Board.
“Your responsibilities are to the Board you chair and to the public you represent,” the letter to Folts said. ” By providing the applicant the floor and allowing them the opportunity to attempt to intimidate the Board, who had not been provided advance copies of the information Newman was using and lacked the representation of an engineer, you violated those responsibilities.”
PDDG said they knew of no law or regulation that prohibited members of the public from commenting on the completeness of the DEIS application, and challenged the board’s attorneys to set the record straight by informing the Board and the public that PDDG’s review of the DEIS and communications with the Board regarding its incompleteness were entirely proper.