Geneseo Planning Board creeps forward on FEIS

The Geneseo Planning Board spent two and a half hours Monday night trying to find some consensus on what needs to be done to turn the Draft Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Newman Development into a final one. The board spent most of the time working through a long memo prepared by the town’s consultants.

The memo which outlined deficiencies in the DEIS was prepared by Mike Guyon from MRB and traffic engineer Bill Holtoff from Stantec, who were both in attendence. The discussion was difficult to follow, however, since the memo was not shared with the public, or apparently with the applicants, who were well-represented by at least five consultants and attorneys but did not participate in the discussion.

Planning Board attorney Joe Picciotti suggested that after going through the memo, the board could authorize the consultants to put it into final form to be delivered to the applicant. The board did vote to do that at the end of the meeting, and the consultants said they would produce a final draft within 7 days.

Issues discussed included the need for further study of the impact of the project on Lima Road traffic and whether the project should be allowed to have access from Rt. 20A. The underlying zoning of the Gateway does not allow for such access, but Attorney Picciotti seemed to indicate that the PDD zoning could trump those and other rules.

Nevertheless, traffic engineer Bill Holtoff recommended that the traffic impact of not having a 20A curb cut should be studied for the FEIS. The board agreed and also will require the applicant to include a site plan without such access as part of their requirement to examine a “code compliant” alternative.

The board also agreed to ask for more information on the impact of traffic on the National Historic District. It was pointed out that the National Park Service had expressed concerned that increased commercial development on 20A could ultimately result in the need to add additional lanes to South Street in the village which would severely damage the character of the district. Board member Tom Curtin asked whether information could be developed on the capacity of the road and whether it was approaching a “tipping point.” The board agreed to ask for such an analysis.

The board also asked for more analysis of the recommendations of the Draft Access Management Plan, particularly with respect to the possibility of building round-abouts at Groveland Road and Center Street. It is rumored that a new local group CRABS (Citizens for Round-A-Bouts) has been formed to advocate for their installation. (Anyone with information on the CRAB organization is urged to contact this blog.)

After some discussion, the board agreed to ask for more analysis of the precedential impact of allowing the Lowe’s to go in. It was pointed out that an increase in property values caused by high-intensity retail could price other types of businesses, such as light industrial and office, out of The Gateway .

Board member Marge Wilkie brought up the issue of the possible future abandonment of the store saying that she was aware of a Lowe’s store that had been abandoned in Wooster, Ohio. Attorney Picciotti said, however, that he did not believe the board could require a demolition bond since there was no local law authorizing it on the books. He suggested that the board could ask the developer to address the possibility of future re-use of the building in designing the site plan.

A spokesman for the applicants said that they are working on the so-called “responsiveness summary” responding to all the public comments, but that they would wait until they got the board’s memo so they could respond to everything at once. has filed two FOIL requests asking to see that “responsiveness summary” when received.

Attorney Picciotti indicated that recent court decisions had indicated that there was no need to be concerned about any strict deadline for finishing the FEIS and, after last night, it looks like its going to be a long haul.

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