by Autumn Evans
Wheatfield's Town Board passed a final scope for the Cobblestone Creek subdivision's draft Environmental Impact Statement at a special meeting held Monday, attended by residents of Errick and Lemke roads, as well as a representative of developer Gary DiMatteo of Rosal Homes.
As with the other scoping meetings, Drew Reilly of Wendel was there to guide the proceedings and explain the scoping process.
The scoping document gives a developer an in-depth explanation of what potential environmental impacts must be studied in order for the town to approve or reject a project.
Wheatfield held its first scoping session on Cobblestone in early December, when residents were invited to share their own concerns and ideas on what should be studied. A draft of the final scope was presented at the Jan. 5 Town Board meeting, but because some resident comments had not been considered, the board delayed in passing it.
The final draft passed this week was the fourth revision.
It included issues brought up at previous meetings, including drainage and flooding, traffic safety, impact on land and impact on aesthetics.
It also gave specific directions of study in certain areas, including a requirement that the developer meet with representatives from the school district and fire companies regarding traffic and drainage.
The final components were suggested mitigations and alternatives to lessen the environmental impact, including the required "no action" alternative.
An issue arose concerning the final line of the document, which stated the town would perform the drainage and traffic studies with an independent contractor and then have the developer incorporate those findings into the DEIS.
According to Reilly, law surrounding scoping allows for the town to charge the developer in order to either review or complete an EIS, but not to do both.
Jeff Palumbo, an attorney representing DiMatteo, told the board DiMatteo would likely hire the same consultants who conducted the original, rejected traffic and drainage studies to compile new ones required for the DEIS. Reilly advised the board that would not present a problem.
"They are not going to submit the same drainage and traffic studies, we would clearly reject it if they did," he said. "And you can reject it as many times as you want and the process just won't move forward."
Upon advice from Town Attorney Bob O'Toole, the board chose to remove the line and relegate the studies to the developer. With that change and minor alterations in wording and clarification on stormwater pollution control, the board unanimously passed the draft.
At this point, the developer is now responsible for completing the DEIS, which the board will then review and either accept or reject. Palumbo said he could not yet estimate when the DEIS would be completed.