By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Southpointe, the dormant 284-acre development conceived in the 1990s and approved in 1997, is back for a reaffirmation by the Grand Island Town Board.
A 7 p.m. meeting on Monday, Aug. 26, is just the first step in a new process to move the development forward, and will take place at Grand Island Town Hall. The meeting promises to revive the heated arguments between pro-development forces and supporters of wetlands, the ecological balance, and wildlife habitats.
Before there was a Conservation Advisory Board on Grand Island, there were groups such as CAB’s predecessor the Commission for the Conservation of the Environment, and the environmental group Quality Quest. They argued against the Southpointe development through the 1990s. By February of 1997, Southpointe developers proposed a 427-unit subdivision that they claimed would create 800 permanent jobs, 1,050 construction jobs and new business ventures. Marketed as an “adult lifestyle community” restricted to those 55 and older, Southpointe would benefit the Island economically and environmentally, developers claimed. “The addition of a Southpointe sewer system will assist in alleviating current wet weather overflow problems on the Island,” a Southpointe advertisement in the Island Dispatch said in 1997.
Doug Scheid of Scheid Architectural, the latest Southpointe representative, said Southpointe 2019 is nothing new, but the proposed property today calls for more wetlands than Southpointe 1997 and has a lower impact on the sewer system than the one approved in 1997.
According to the Scheid Architectural website, “The revised Southpointe 2019 plan avoids 99% of the wetlands with minimal crossings as strategic points.”
Councilman Mike Madigan sees it differently and said his concerns include environmental, traffic and sewer system impacts. Madigan claimed that Southpointe 2019 will have 47% more land “developed as a result of the change to the revised plan from 1998.”
Madigan called the Southpointe 2019 plan “a significant expansion on our sewer system that’s already over capacity. I mean, what are we doing as a town? We’re going to expand the size of our sewer districts, while having a major overcapacity problem with our sewer.”
“I’m very concerned about the capacity of the sewer system, and concerned about the impact on traffic,” Madigan said. “It is one of our greener areas. There’s 73 different wetlands there. There’s three tributaries that go into Spicer Creek – that’s the watershed or the upstream that feeds the Spicer Creek. If we’re talking about capping off with a lot of concrete and everything else, or blacktop and houses and stuff, you’re talking about less absorption of water in the ground. I would like to better understand what is the impact downstream of this development, in terms of the impact on Spicer Creek.”
“And they’re just asking us to reaffirm rather than revisit all the major changes, you know, with the addition of the sewer and 47% more land that’s being developed. And I really do think being responsible to the environment and to the community, that we really should not just reaffirm without doing additional review, and really make sure that it’s the right thing to do that for the community and for the environment,” Madigan said.