Wal-Mart traffic plan concerns neighbors

Traffic issues were the main concern expressed Monday by the few who spoke at the public hearing on
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Traffic issues were the main concern expressed Monday by the few who spoke at the public hearing on the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Gloversville Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Civil engineer Nick Wood of Penny Lane in Johnstown challenged many of the study methods and traffic flow conclusions reached by Wal-Mart consultants. After a long presentation going over the traffic study point by point, Wood promised to file a detailed written report on his findings.

The public hearing was scheduled midway through a 45-day public comment period on the draft documents. Written comments may be filed through July 18 at the Fulton County Planning Department.

Public comments and those from the project’s lead agency, the Gloversville Planning Board, may have to be addressed by Wal-Mart consultants before the board accepts a final environmental impact statement.

While proponents of the 187,000 square foot store — including landowner James Curtin — urged the Planning Board to expedite approval of the draft document, others contend there remain serious concerns about traffic congestion in the new road configuration and runoff into a nearby trout stream.

Anthony Ambrosino, whose property abuts the 40-acre store site on South Kingsboro Avenue Extension, did not speak Monday but provided the board and reporters with a prepared statement.

Ambrosino maintains store consultants are wrong in forecasting a mere 1 percent in traffic increase during peak hours; that the truck entrance on South Kingsboro is too close to a house; that stormwater runoff could affect neighboring properties; that parking lot lights will encroach on properties despite an eight-foot fence; and that future expansion of Kingsboro will diminish front yards, squeezing property owners from both sides.

Howard Goebel, a civil engineer who lives near the site on Sun Valley Road, said the stormwater abatement system, which uses retaining ponds, will ultimately discharge heated water into the small trout stream. Goebel said the resulting water temperature will kill the fish.

Officials have said the Planning Board may approve a final impact statement by late summer, a development that allows other agencies and local municipalities to conduct their reviews.

Mayor Tim Hughes has said that process could be completed by late this year, in time to complete the store by Christmas of 2009.

Monday’s hearing began with a presentation by Wal-Mart’s lawyer, Leslie M. Senglaub of the Rochester firm of Harter Secrest & Emery.

“We are really excited about being in Gloversville,” said Senglaub.

Consultant Kimberly J. Thompson of the Rochester firm, Bergmann Associates, said the store was sited centrally between Johnstown and Gloversville. The existing Wal-Mart store was opened in the early 1990s in the town of Johnstown on the north side of Gloversville, about four miles from Johnstown.

Thompson said there are about 14 acres of wetlands on the property, but only about 1.2 acres would be affected. She said additional wetland will be created to compensate for the loss.

The Army Corps of Engineers will ultimately rule on the wetlands plan.

Categories: Schenectady County

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