G’town orders full review for store

GERMANTOWN—The town Planning Board has decided that the Dollar General retail store proposed for Route 9G just north of Main Street/Country Route 8 could have a negative impact on the town, in several different ways.

As a result, the Planning Board voted unanimously to give the project a Positive Declaration, as part of the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process. A Positive Declaration is what the state calls a Determination of Significance for the proposal, which means “we found one or more aspects of the project that would have a negative impact on the town,” said Stephen Reynolds, chair of the Planning Board.

Primax Properties of North Carolina has proposed a 9,100-square-foot store on a 1.3-acre lot to be subdivided from a 6-acre parcel. The store would have a 38-car parking lot, lighting, signage, a loading area and landscaping.

The board’s decision was based on Part 2 of the state Environmental Assessment Form (EAF), prepared by Primax. Planners spent hours, including a special meeting on April 21, reviewing the 18 possible impacts listed in the EAF.

By the time of their regular meeting, April 28, planning board members were ready to vote on which potential impacts were relevant to Germantown. These included broad terms, such as the impact on aesthetic resources, and inconsistencies with the town’s Comprehensive Plan, zoning law and community character.

Other impacts were more specific, said Mr. Reynolds, having to do with noise, heat and light.

J. Theodore Fink of Greenplan, Inc., drafted the positive declaration and the resolution the board voted to approve. These and all documents relating to the Dollar General application are on the town website, germantownny.org.

The planners’ vote was Step 4 out of a possible 11 steps in the SEQR process. The next step, said Mr. Reynolds, is a public “scoping” of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), with the applicant directed to submit a draft scoping document.

Scoping is an optional step, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website (dec.ny.gov), but one that the DEC “highly” recommends.

Scoping identifies the issues to be addressed in the DEIS. The goal, according to the DEC, is to focus on potentially significant adverse environmental impacts, eliminating non-significant and non-relevant issues; identify alternatives and methods of mitigation, and give the public the opportunity to participate in identifying impacts.

The DEC suggests a minimum of 20 days for public comment, by way of meetings (which are not public hearings) and written comments.

Once the DEIS has been scoped, the draft impact statement can then be written. “The applicant always has the right to prepare the draft EIS,” says the DEC website. “If the applicant refuses to prepare the draft EIS, the lead agency has the option of preparing the draft EIS, having it prepared by a consultant or terminating its review of the action.” In this case the Germantown Planning Board is the lead agency in the review process.

Adam F. Sellner, project director for Primax, attended the April 28 meeting, as did Lawrence Marshall, one of the engineers from Mercurio, Norton, Tarolli and Marshall who has worked on the proposal. “They gave no indication of whether they would do this, Mr. Reynolds said on May 5. “Their attorney did request a copy of the audio recording of the meeting.”

Reached at his office Tuesday, Mr. Sellner had no comment on any aspect of the application.

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