Category Archives: PDDG File

Decision Day Approaches

The Town Planning Board’s recent determination that Newman Development has provided all the information it needs to evaluate the impacts of Newman’s big box plans represents a big step toward the biggest step in this long saga. Now the board must decide whether those impacts – on traffic, on community character, and on growth – are bearable in a community already strained by retail sprawl.

Should the Board decide Newman’s plans fit into Geneseo’s plans, a huge hurdle will have been cleared. There will still remain other hurdles. The County Planning Board will need to give its approval, the Town Board will need to vote to rezone the property in question, and the Town Planning Board will need to work out the details of the site plan. The available record indicates these decisions are but formalities; speed bumps in the path of Newman’s bulldozer.

Now, at long last, is the time for the crucial decision to be made.

We at PDDG are busy preparing a memo to the Planning Board urging them to reject Newman’s plans. That document, which we will post online on The PDDG File when it is complete, will make three major arguments: that Newman’s plans are in impermissible conflict with Geneseo’s plans, that another big box will strain our infrastructure and cement our status as Genrietta, and that the legal requirements for making a final decision on Newman’s project have not been met due to Newman’s intransigence and the Board’s lack of proper oversight.

At its meeting on April 28 and perhaps at a subsequent meeting or two, the Board will take up these issues. We’re not particularly hopeful of the outcome, despite our confidence in our arguments.

Since helping to persuade the Board eighteen months ago that Newman’s plans required the completion of the environmental review process that is now being completed, we have had a harder time persuading the Board that Newman’s plans are fatally flawed.

Where we see Genrietta, a community that has lost its soul and its character, the Board seems to see just another big box. Where we see traffic gridlock, the Board seems to see just a few more cars. Where we see careful planning and zoning designed to prevent exactly what Newman proposes, the Board seems to see the PDD law as a get out of jail free card. Where we see Newman flouting its legal obligations, the Board seems to see business as usual.

Perhaps our standards are too high. Maybe community self-determination must bow to the almighty tax dollar. Maybe you can’t really say no to “progress,” however ugly it may appear. Maybe the procedural train wreck that has been occurring ever since Newman helped us write the PDD law they now seek to exploit is simply par for the development course.

We’ll soon see what the Planning Board decides. There is some room for optimism. Statements from Planning Board members at their April 7 meeting showed some reservations about Newman’s plans.

If the Board sides with Newman, we’ll review our legal options. That’s not intended as a threat. Rather, it represents a recognition of our core belief that Newman’s plans are for Newman’s benefit and are contrary to Geneseo’s laws and Geneseo’s interests.

In the end, the truth of that proposition will have to be determined.

Whither PDDG?

To those of you wondering what has become of PDDG, or of me, or of this column and, most importantly, of our efforts to defeat Newman’s Big Box plans for the Gateway, I would like to offer this update.

The outcome of last month’s Town elections was certainly not what I had hoped for or expected. I believed that the community that had shown such concern about traffic and sprawl and such support for Geneseo’s small town character in a recent community-wide survey would elect people committed to their same vision. I’m not sure why that didn’t happen.

Maybe the personal appeal of candidates overwhelmed ideas and issues. Maybe the muck got too deep for people to wade through. Maybe the community is less committed to a particular vision of itself and its future than I believed. Maybe economic anxieties trumped.

Whatever the case, the election results, fatigue from the campaign, and the need to spend some time doing the job I’m paid to do, have led me to refocus some of my energy.

There is also another reason for my and PDDG’s lower profile these days. After a hard push to write all of our many comments on the problems with Newman’s Big Box proposal and with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that it produced as part of the review of that proposal, there hasn’t been much to do or say.

Those comments, which were submitted to the Town Planning Board on November 8, pretty much say it all: that Newman’s proposal is impermissible under state and local law and that its DEIS is so badly flawed as to require a substantial rewrite.

Once Newman is made to answer the questions required of it by the scope – questions related to how much additional traffic will use residential roads to bypass the congestion on 20A and how much additional retail sprawl will follow this Big Box and what Newman is willing to do to offset the costs of its development – the scale of this folly will be revealed.

Sour grapes, you may say. I don’t think so. Sure, I wish the election had turned out differently. Life would be easier if it had. However, we are a nation of laws and law protects us from the tyranny of the majority.

If that majority would like to change the law, it may do so. Until then, however, Newman’s proposal must be evaluated under the laws we have and I don’t think those laws look favorably on this proposal.

So, don’t expect to see any white flags waving outside PDDG headquarters. The Big Box battle is a long way from over and we will fight it to the end.