On a 5-2 vote, the Geneseo Town Planning Board finally approved the DEIS submitted by Newman Development as complete Monday night. This action sets the stage for a public comment period to be followed by a public hearing, although the board did not immediately set a date for the hearing.
Under SEQR regulations the hearing can not be held until at least 15 day after a notice of completion is filed and must be held no later than 60 days after the filing. That would appear to open a window of time between mid-October and the end of November for a hearing. With hotly contested town elections looming on Nov. 6, it was unclear Monday if the board would attempt to schedule the hearing before the elections.
After the hearing the board is required to keep the record open for additional written comments for 10 days. After all public comments are received, the board will attempt to work with the applicant to create a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).
On Monday the question was raised as to whether the applicant could be forced to do additional studies after the public comments are received. The board’s attorney indicated that the applicant could choose not to do any more studies, but that the failure to do so could be used by the board as a reason to disapprove the application.
Former Planning Board Chair John Zmich said Monday that he considered the DEIS incomplete, especially with regard to the traffic studies of Lima Road and couldn’t understand why the board did not require the applicant to fix that now. He only receive the support of one other board member, Marge Wilkie, however on his motion for incompleteness. Patti Lavigne who had voted for incomplete two weeks ago, and Mark Shepard who had abstained, both voted in favor of completeness.
The meeting was held in front of a standing-room only crowd of over 60 people at the new town offices on Rt. 20A. Included in the crowd were five representatives of the local carpenters and steelworkers unions. They said they were concerned that Lowe’s has a history of using foreign and non-union labor to build its stores.
For an analysis of the new citizen’s group Keep Geneseo Growing and Vibrant, see Corrin Strong’s column “Inside the KGVG”