Newman hearing runs 4 1/2 hours

The crowd of over 200 had dwindled to around 50 by the time the Newman PDD hearing ground to a halt around 10:30 p.m. Monday night at the Geneseo Central School. A majority of speakers spoke against the project raising concerns about traffic and impact on Geneseo’s small-town character.

A substantial number of project proponents were in the audience identifying themselves with green stickers saying “Neighbors supporting Lowe’s.” Those who spoke in favor of the project mentioned the convenience of not having to travel to Rochester to shop, tax benefits and the need for jobs, however, many of them conceded that the traffic problems in Geneseo were real and had to be addressed.

The town took severe criticism from some for allowing the process to go on for over 2 years before holding this first opportunity for public input. Corrin Strong highlighted that by presenting petitions against the project containing over 600 names that had been gathered in November of 2005. He noted that Please Don’t Destroy Geneseo had been denied permission to speak and present the petitions at the Town Board meeting of Dec. 8, 2005.

Another petition containing the names of over 150 residents of Lima Road and adjacent streets was presented against the project. These names were gathered in the last month by Sharyn Duffy, Betsy O’ Mara and others from residents of both the town and village. Many Lima Road residents also spoke about the sharp increase in traffic they have already experienced in recent years, especially since the opening of Volunteer Road and the Super Wal-Mart.

The use of the PDD law to override the underlying zoning in this matter came under heavy criticism from many. “Elected officials and planning boards are not permitted simply to do what they want or what Newman wants or what they think the public wants, “Bill Lofquist said reading a prepared statement. “Your obligation is to the law. Your obligation is to enforce the zoning of the Gateway, enforce the requirements of the Scope, and respect the independence of the Planning Board.”

The format of the hearing was also criticized by some who felt the five-hour length and multiple subjects was designed to discourage public participation. Around 10 p.m. some took advantage of the opportunity for a second 5 minute comment, although Corrin Strong was denied his request for a third even though the meeting adjourned before its scheduled 11 p.m. ending time.

Written comments can be added to the record until 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 8. They can be mailed to the town offices or e-mailed to town@geneseony.org The planning board will then have to decide whether to prepare a Final EIS, although they could decide to simply accept the applicant’s Draft EIS as final and make a finding of no adverse impact for the project.

If they do decide to prepare a Final EIS , SEQR regulations require it be done within 45 days from the end of the public hearing which would be by Dec. 13, although extensions can be given. Corrin Strong pointed out that under SEQR regulations, the lead agency is permitted to charge the applicant for the cost of preparing the Final EIS and he urged the planning board to do so and hire independent engineers.

10 responses to “Newman hearing runs 4 1/2 hours

  1. How can you (or anyone else) have been denied the opportunity to speak if the hearing was still open and there was no one else interested in speaking? I doubt this is a serious procedural problem, but it certainly is bad form.

  2. Yes,it makes you wonder what they were afraid of! For a clue read my Clarion Call column this week at
    http://theclarioncall.wordpress.com/2007/10/31

  3. The whole process stunk! One hearing where each individual had only 5 minutes to address all the problems with the Newman proposal. And there was no opportunity to question the Town Board or Newman. It’s obvious that Wes and friends don’t really want any meaningful public input.

    But I was pleased by the turnout on our side. We didn’t really try to turn our supporters out for the meeting, and still managed to have a majority of speakers on our side. I think it’s meaningful that it took an expensive outside PR firm hired by the developer to get people to speak in favor of the project.

    I think this is more evidence of how thin the support for this project is. It’s laughable that Wes and Hop, incumbents who can’t manage to get re-nominated by their own party, claim that they “know” that the community is solidly behind the project.

    And speaking of laughable, did everyone read in the LCN today that Wes is willing to forgive those of us who have “mistreated” him? Someone who intentionally destroys incriminating public documents, is under criminal investigation for election fraud, misleads the public at every turn, and refuses to allow the public to participate in decision making is gracious enough to “forgive” those of us who have pointed out his malfeasance. Aren’t we lucky to have such a fine public servant?!

  4. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the meeting but my Geneseo sources tell me that approximately 75% of those in attendance want the Lowes. This is based on comments made by attendees during the meeting. My report says there were other issues that were tilted to the anti-Lowes stance but that overall, the majority were in favor.
    I also find it difficult to believe that the PDDG did not try to turn supporters out for the meeting considering the publicity on this site and the dinner by Kurt Cylke prior to the meeting. I know that he invited those for and against the project but, as Corrin says, and I may not spell it correctly, puleez.
    The story will be told next Tuesday as to who wants the Lowes and who does not. Unfortunately, I can’t vote. You don’t have to remind me that I don’t live there. I am well aware.
    As to Wes, regardless of what he did, does or says, you will be extremely critical. That’s politics in it’s saddest sense.

  5. Yes, we keep hearing about the silent majority that are in favor, but based on those who spoke it was clearly the other way. Perhaps a lot of the supporters did not speak because, like you, they were not from Geneseo and that would have been revealed if they had tried to speak. I saw a number of people from Groveland and other towns wearing the little green pro-Lowe’s stickers.

    We know why the rest of the county is in favor of the Lowe’s. They can come to Geneseo for good shopping and then go home to their quiet country homes and leave the problems here!

  6. And, they can leave their tax dollars there and the jobs there.

  7. I used to think that comments like Mr. Lamb’s were merely the result of ignorance. That the person was acting out of good faith, but was simply ignorant of the facts. But it is getting harder and harder to believe that.

    There has to be some willful intent to mislead. Surely Mr. Lamb, as well as Hop and Wes, realize by now that Geneseo won’t receive any significant tax benefits from Newman’s new strip mall. All the reports and data indicate this. All you have to do is pay attention. So why do they keep saying things like this. Does the truth matter at all to these people? Are they willing to say anything, no matter how ridiculous, in order to get their new strip mall?

  8. I read in the LC News that school taxes paid by Lowes in the first year will be $135,000. If “all the reports and data indicate” differently, then why are so many people saying it. I have no intent to mislead anyone.

  9. The school tax money amounts to less than 1% of the annual school budget. That vast majority of the other tax money goes to the County and the State.

    There will be almost no tax money available from this project to offset the increases in infrastructure costs that are certain to result (increased fire, ambulance and police protection, increased stress on the water system, etc.). As a result, while we get a tiny percentage increase in school tax money, we end up very much in the hole in terms of infrastructure costs.

    The project benefits the County, but it doesn’t benefit Geneseo. In fact, Geneseo would be better off, certianly in terms of tax money, if the project was built in Groveland or elsewhere in the County. Then they would have to pay the infrastructure costs (and not us), and we would get some of the benefits of the project.

  10. In all of the reports of and talk about the Newman Hearing, I did not hear one word about the Union members from Rochester and elsewhere who showed up to both enlighten and, amazingly, to negotiate. Both groups of construction union members enlightened us with the sad fact that when Lowes developments have been built elsewhere, illegial immigrants have been employed, bypassing union members. Most interesting to me was the fact that one of the groups actually came out and offered support of the Newman project in exchange for their guarantee to employ union labor. Question: With these hearings so heavily regulated regarding proper procedure, shouldn’t the union members have been ruled out of order for trying to negotiate with the board and with Newman? At the very least, they took time away from residents who may have wished to participate in the hearing.

    Lastly, Poor Greg, here is a mild correction. At the time of the hearing, there was no organized rallying of the PDDG troops. Happily, many concerned citizens showed up on their own and stated their own positions. Kurt’s event was not an “official” PDDG function and neither Corrin or Bill attended. It is hard for a loose-knit organization such as PDDG with just a few active members to have the impact on a community that could compete with the impact of a corporate giant like Lowe’s. Like most local organizations, the number of active PDDG members is much less than the number of sympathetic citizens, which judging from the election results, is well over 500!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s