by Autumn Evans
Wheatfield's Town Board once again addressed Cobblestone Creek on Monday, at a second session to decide what potential environmental impacts should be studied following the board's positive SEQR declaration.
Drew Reilly of Wendel again led the meeting. He prepared a draft of a final scope using input received during the first public scoping session, held Dec. 3, and from letters sent afterward. His draft contained multiple issues to study.
The first was impact on surface water, because the project involves building on a floodplain, changing drainage patterns and possibly affecting the town's sewage system.
The second issue was transportation and safety, focusing mainly on increased traffic around Errick Road Elementary School, a lack of parking in the area and the difficulty emergency vehicles would face trying to navigate the narrow roads.
The last major issues, aesthetics and the impact on land, were related to the developer's plan to raise the land and the removal of green space.
Reilly's draft specifically called for an ecological study, an expanded drainage report, a new traffic study, a visual analysis of the site and an investigation into construction plans and practices.
A second part of the scoping document includes potential mitigations or alternatives to minimize the project's impact. Reilly's suggestions included having the developer look into rerouting drainage, installing traffic lights, adding more exits and entrances to the subdivision and creating more parking.
"They're going to look at that and they're going to argue - I mean, I won't speak for them, but they're going to argue, 'Why do I have to make those improvements?' But at least we'll have a study saying, 'are there ways of fixing this problem?' " Reilly said.
Lastly, Reilly addressed some of the issues residents brought up that he didn't think should be studied. The first was a potential multi-year wildlife study.
"There are no threatened or endangered species, the site really doesn't have any unique habitats," Reilly said. He added if the ecological study showed different results, the town could then ask the developer to look into it.
He also recommended the scope not include impact on agriculture, because the development is not located in an agricultural zone, so the result would likely be that any impact was inconsequential. Also, because there is no rezoning involved and the issue is a complicated one, Reilly advised against discussing property values.
Finally, the issue of who would be conducting the requested studies.
"There's two ways to go about this. The standard way is you tell the applicant you're going to study drainage and traffic and here's how you're going to study it and they're going to come back with their studies. Then, I would recommend you hire an independent consultant, an engineer independent of the town ... to review that study," Reilly said. "The other way you talked about doing - and I've seen it done ... is you're going to tell the applicant these are all the things you're going to study, but we're going to independently hire someone right in the (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) and do those sections of the DEIS."
Supervisor Bob Cliffe later said, "I think it's pretty clear that we have to do that, for at least the driving and the traffic and at least the drainage issues. We've got to take a look at a bigger issue than just this development."
Reilly said he would have a final draft prepared by the board's next meeting, and the board said it would be available on the town's website a few days beforehand.
In other board news:
•The board approved a motion to increase water rates by 10 cents per 1,000 gallons, effective Jan. 1, with a minimum quarterly rate of $19.25.
•Highway Superintendent Paul Siegmann reminded residents not to park on the side of the road overnight, because it causes problems for plows. He added those cars parked illegally were being ticketed.
•The board approved a contract with Civic Plus to redesign and host the town's website, at a cost of $11,500, payable over three years. There is also a $900 maintenance and hosting fee, up 2 percent from the previous host's rates.
•In accordance with the minimum wage increase, the board approved a motion to increase summer, seasonal and part-time wages by 75 cents per hour, effective Jan. 1.
•There will be a public information meeting on the Shawnee Klemer Subdivision at 7:15 p.m. Jan. 16.
•The board's reorganization and first meeting of 2015 will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 5.