Planning Board Chairman Renato Sanges said he is not ready to say Wal-Mart’s draft environmental impact statement is deficient, but he said Wednesday he has questions on a number of issues addressed in the document.
The Planning Board met for the first time since Wal-Mart’s consultants filed the three-volume document on Dec. 12. The state environmental review is the major hurdle as Wal-Mart pursues plans to build a 186,000-square-foot supercenter on a 40-acre parcel off South Kingsboro Avenue Extension.
City officials originally expected the project consultants to attend Wednesday’s meeting so that the board could begin questioning the conclusions contained in the draft document.
According to the law, the board has 45 days to declare the document complete, a step that acknowledges that Wal-Mart has addressed all questions identified in April by the board.
The board can declare it complete and still question conclusions and demand more information.
Sanges said he has read the document twice and has questions about traffic congestion, road configuration and impact on wetlands. He said the consultants may be able to explain their findings in those categories to his satisfaction.
Board member Timothy Mattice said he also questions conclusions regarding traffic issues and called some of the statistical analyses misleading.
Fulton County Senior Planner Sean Geraghty, adviser to the board, said he will contact Wal-Mart representatives to set up a meeting sometime in late January. Unless the board and Wal-Mart can agree on an extension of the 45-day period in which to declare the document complete, Geraghty said the deadline will pass at the end of January and result in an automatic declaration of completeness.
Mattice said the board should devote one whole meeting to traffic issues, which Geraghty acknowledged constitutes at least half the draft document.
Sanges suggested the public has been given the impression that this review process could conclude in time for a spring groundbreaking. He said the board’s review of the impact statement could take four or five months. Once the impact statement is accepted, he pointed out the board will then consider the site plan and a number of other agencies and local governments will begin their reviews of separate issues.
The town of Johnstown, for instance, must approve of road alterations leading to the store site, which is largely in the city.
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Categories: Schenectady County