In a surprise move Monday night the Town of Geneseo Planning Board voted to reduce the size of the proposed Lowe’s in the Geneseo Town Centre from 169,000 to a maximium of 140,000 square feet, including garden center. The vote for the approximately 17% reduction in size passed 3-2 with member Mark Shepherd abstaining. The motion was made by Tom Curtin and seconded by Patti Lavigne, with Marge Wilkie joining in favor. Chairman Dwight Folts and member Hank Latorella voted against. The seventh member, Trish Jones, was absent from the meeting.
The vote came after a lengthy discussion of the environmental impacts of the proposed project under SEQR. Tom Curtin made the point that the underlying zoning, which calls for no more than 35,000 square feet should not be totally ignored. It was clear that he was also looking for a compromise that would help reduce some of the public controversey over the issue.
The board also voted 5-1 to approve the so-called CP-3 layout which requires the building to face Volunteer Road instead of the developer’s preferred orientation (CP-5) which faced more towards Rt. 20-A. Again, respect for the underlying zoning seemed to be the dominant concern. That zoning also prohibits access from Rt. 20-A which the board also debated at length.
The approved layout does allow access from Rt. 20 -A at Morganview Road, however, it was hoped that the entrance to the back of the building would mainly be used for tractor trailer access. It was thought that this layout would significantly cut down on the amount of traffic using the Morganview entrance as a short-cut to Veteran’s Drive. Member Marge Wilkie voted against this layout, saying she could only support it if the exit was made right turn only.
After debating the issues for almost 3 hours, the board decided to delay final action on the Findings under SEQR until the May 27 meeting. This will allow the board’s attorney time to draft a final Findings statement in line with the decisions made by the board last night.
The meeting was attended by over 50 concerned citizens who for a time overflowed the room. Order was kept by three police officers who would not allow the audience to exceed the posted capacity of the room of 66 people. This led to a situation in which some members of the public were not allowed to enter the meeting room until someone else left.
Members of PDDG said they were somewhat encouraged by the developments. “We are certainly glad to see the board acknowledge the importance of the underlying zoning,” Bill Lofquist said. “Of course, we would have preferred a Negative Finding, or even stricter limits on building size and total elimination of Rt. 20-A access.”