Daily Archives: August 30, 2007

Back to Work

Between the start of the new school year and the need to write memos and FOIL requests in response to the variety of outrages at Monday’s Town Planning Board meeting, I have limited time to spend on this column. So, I’ll do you all a favor and keep it short.

In no particular order, here are my observations on the return of Team Newman to our Mayberry on the Genesee:

• The good news is that Newman’s return, with its calm assurances that another big box will leave us a happier, more prosperous, and stronger community and its characteristic displays of contempt for the same public on which it is so eager to bestow these riches, has reminded Corrin that the real campaign is being fought in the Town Planning Board and his full attention is needed there.

The sight of him fulminating against Newman and its bidders (See his latest Clarion Call column) reassures me that order has returned to the planet and that, whatever the outcome of that other campaign, the campaign to impeach Newman is going strong.

• The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) prepared by Newman is a textbook lesson in someone wanting it both ways. Wherever there is an opportunity to take credit for the retail attention being paid to Geneseo, Newman is eager to do so. Wherever there is a concern to be expressed that this attention might (or already did) overwhelm us with traffic, sprawl, and a loss of community character, Newman is quick to distance itself.

My favorite example of this is in their claims that the presence of a new and old Wal-Mart in their desired neighborhood means that both the market and the planning and zoning dictate that big boxes must populate the Gateway. At the same time, they assure us, we are completely in control of our own destiny and will get only what we want and plan for.

• Though it is probably typical of these sorts of land use battles, there is an unfortunate way in which local citizens’ groups come to be treated as troublemakers, outsiders, and party crashers while outside financial interests, despite the seemingly obvious and huge self-interest created by their financial stakes, are treated as insiders. Witness the continuing effort to keep secret from the public review of documents being done with our tax dollars.

• Newman’s DEIS uses the device of portraying an alternative (to big boxes) future so bleak that the future Newman promises looks sunny and bright. By claiming that the Gateway could come to be populated by all shape and size of retail sprawl without offending the existing zoning, Newman makes the 500% variance it is asking for through the PDD law look like a good idea.

In this alternative universe, it is the existing zoning, not the PDD law, that is the real threat to smart growth. That’s a good one!