The Gloversville Planning Board voted unanimously Tuesday to declare Wal-Mart’s draft environmental impact statement complete.
The decision, which concludes the preliminary stage of the environmental review for the proposed 186,000-square-foot supercenter, starts the clock for a 45-day public comment period highlighted by a June 23 public hearing at Gloversville Middle School.
By declaring the draft complete, the board has ruled Wal-Mart’s consultants have provided information or answers in response to all the questions raised by board members over the winter.
The comment period, designed to help the Planning Board review the company’s responses to questions, concludes July 18. The board will then begin a review leading to approval of a final environmental impact statement. Then the other governmental entities will complete their reviews of the project.
Gloversville officials have speculated the process could conclude by late fall, allowing the company to possibly break ground late this year or early next year. Wal-Mart officials have declined to speculate on a timetable, but Mayor Tim Hughes has said the store is on track to open before Christmas 2009.
Fulton County Senior Planner Sean Geraghty, adviser to the Planning Board, said completion notices will be sent out today to all concerned agencies and local governments.
Geraghty said copies of the draft document will be available at City Hall, the Gloversville Public Library, the county supervisors’ chambers and Johnstown Town Hall. The draft may be examined online by clicking the link on the city Web site, he said. The document should be online starting today, he said.
As the project moves into the next review phase, a group of residents living on South Kingsboro Extension adjacent to the proposed site were present Tuesday and expressed their continuing anxieties over the fate of their homes.
With the store proposing to landscape up to five feet from the residential property lines, Michelle Ambrosino said remaining on South Kingsboro is “going to be like living on the median of the New York State Thruway.”
Her husband, Tony Ambrosino, said the family house is 136 feet from the corner of the proposed store, which will stand 25 feet above ground level.
“It’s all you’re going to see when you look out your window,” he said.
“We’re just afraid we’re going to be passed by. … We’re going to be an island,” said Joe Slovick. Slovick said he is concerned the planning board, which was demanding of Wal-Mart early in the process, now appears somewhat compliant. “It seems to me like Wal-Mart has the puppet strings,” Slovick said.
On the other side of the issue, Vincy Coadney, president of the pro-project group, Growth for Gloversville, attended Tuesday with a fellow member. Both wore stickers that said “Wal-Mart Yes.”
Coadney said the group was organized by Wal-Mart’s consultants, but she said she has supported the project since it was first mentioned.
Coadney said the new store, which would replace a smaller Wal-Mart store on Fifth Avenue Extension in the town of Johnstown, will generate more jobs for the community and, because of proximity, will save on gasoline expenses.
Group member Deanna Wells said the existing store is too small.
Coadney said her group has about 25 members and meets periodically at the Travers Restaurant, adjacent to the store site.
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