Planning Board discusses FEIS procedure

On Monday night, the Geneseo Town Planning Board discussed how to convert the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Gateway Town Centre submitted by Newman Development and the public comments received both at the Oct. 29 hearing and in written form, into a Final EIS. Planning Board attorney Joe Picciotti advised that it was “normal practice” for the applicant to prepare the first draft of a “Responsiveness Summary.”

This summary takes all the public concerns raised by the comments and attempts to answer them. He said that once the applicant submits the first draft that the Planning Board takes ownership of the document and either accepts or modifies Newman’s responses. Picciotti noted that this would be a lot of work and advised that an extension beyond the Dec. 13 deadline for completion of the FEIS might have to be negotiated with the developers.

Board member Tom Curtin attempted to get to the heart of the public concern with traffic on Lima Road. “Let’s throw the skunk on the table,” he said. “What can the planning board do if we find a negative impact on traffic?” He was advised by counsel that the lead agency can require mitigation of any negative impacts, but that first it would have to establish such impacts by “objective benchmarks.”

Attorney Picciotti and traffic engineer Bill Holtoff suggested that such benchmarks might include drops in level of service rating or increased delays at intersections. They suggested that further data might have to be collected before such a determination could be made.

The board also discussed the question of whether they would be creating a legal precedent if they approved the Lowe’s PDD that would make it difficult to resist the next Big Box PDD application. “We’re afraid we are on a slippery slope, ” board member Marge Wilkie stated.

Attorney Picciotti noted that the question was difficult because it was very hypothetical, but then stated that he thought the board could refuse future PDD applications as long as they did not act in a “arbitrary and capricious” fashion. He pointed out that this is a fairly low standard, that was also difficult to define, but gave an example of not relying on unsubstantiated allegations in public comments.

The board’s next scheduled meeting is Dec. 10, just 3 days before the nominal FEIS deadline.

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