FOIL request partially granted; Town Planning Board releases Newman’s rebuttal to PDDG memo

After initially taking the position that both the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and written comments submitted by Newman Development to the Town Planning Board and town consultants were private communications, the Town Planning Board has apparently reversed course and provided public access to at least some of the documents.

After Monday’s Town Planning Board meeting, at which Newman attempted to counter arguments made by the Town’s consultants that the DEIS was incomplete, PDDG asked to receive those rebuttal comments and was denied access by Board Chairman Dwight Folts. PDDG then filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request on Tuesday morning asking for all comments submitted by Newman’s consultants to the Planning Board and/or its consultants about the DEIS since August 1.

The request included copies of a series of advisory opinions from the NYS Committee on Open Government stating that the DEIS and related materials provided to a planning board are fully public. On Thursday, PDDG sent a copy of the FOIL letter to Board Chairman Dwight Folts along with a sharply worded protest of statements made by both Folts and Newman attorney Tom Greiner at the Monday meeting. (See yesterday’s news item, which included a link to that letter.)

On Friday, PDDG received a copy of a memo submitted by Newman’s engineers, APD to Planning Board Chairman Dwight Folts, dated August 10 rebutting PDDG’s memo on the completeness of the DEIS. The rebuttal to the town’s consultants, prepared for Monday’s meeting, however, was not released because it has not yet been submitted in writing to the Planning Board, according to Board Secretary Dianne McMullan.

PDDG spokesperson Bill Lofquist, who filed the FOIL request, stated that he was “pleased that the Town Planning Board provided the August 10 memo and did so as quickly as they did. The Board could have taken longer to respond to the request, but apparently recognized that this is a time-sensitive matter.”

“With respect to any future communications that are reduced to writing, we hope the board will continue to act in a  prompt manner to release these documents immediately so the public can stay informed of developments, especially given the tight time table that the Planning Board is working under.” Lofquist said.

The Town Planning Board will be making a determination as to whether Newman’s DEIS is complete at its September 10 meeting.

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