GOSHEN—Concerned Citizens for the Hudson Valley, Inc. delivered petitions on Aug. 23 to the Goshen Town Board to require a supermajority vote to approve any zoning change for the proposed Legoland New York project.
The 37 signatories of the petition are residents whose properties adjoin the proposed site of the park.
Attorney Michael Sussman, who represents Concerned Citizens, said at a press conference on Aug. 24 that the petitions are based on the state’s Town Law 265, which requires a supermajority, or approval by four board members, to approve any zoning change.
“That is significant,” Sussman said, “because we believe there are sufficient votes on that town board to defeat this zoning change.”
The owners of Legoland are asking for a commercial overlay district on the proposed 523-acre site off Route 17, which is currently zoned for rural and residential uses. Of that site, 153 acres is slated for development. The zoning change would require the Town Board to change its Comprehensive Plan and pass a local law that would allow that overlay district to be made.
The Town of Goshen Planning Board is the lead agency for SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review). Sussman said the town board, not the planning board, must do the SEQR review for the project and cannot delegate it to a separate board or agency.
“If they [the planning board] are doing it, they are doing it illegally,” Sussman said.
Richard Golden, attorney for the Town of Goshen, said in an interview after Sussman’s press conference, “That is 100 percent incorrect.”
He said it would actually be inappropriate for the town board to be lead agency because the project affects other government agencies and municipalities.
Sussman had quoted from the SEQR & Local Government section of the SEQR Handbook. “It tells us that SEQR review for the zoning change and/or the comprehensive change must be done by the town board.”
Dominic Cordisco, a representative for Merlin Entertainments, the parent company of Legoland, said in an email to Epoch Times the SEQR Act “encourages a holistic, unified and coordinated review” of projects like Legoland New York, and having the planning board be lead agency for it would best provide a coordinated review with a full record.
At the press conference, members of Concerned Citizens expressed their concerns. Brad Barnhorst, president of the group, said, “It is critical that we demand accountability and transparency.”
Golden responded to this concern, saying, “The public, including the people from the anti-Legoland group, have a right to have input into that process. They have already had input into it and there will be occasions for them to have more input into the process.”
Jessica Gocke said, “Ironically, we are here today asking for the town not to change, and to adhere to its 2009 master plan and not to rewrite its own zoning laws.”
Sussman said there could be legal action if the town board dismisses the petitions. “There could be litigation as to their negation of the petitions,” he said.
Golden said the decision to enact the proposed local laws will be decided after the SEQR review, which he anticipated will be completed sometime next year. “That is when they will deal with the issue of whether or not the petition requires it to have a supermajority vote,” Golden said.
The nonprofit Concerned Citizens of Hudson Valley incorporated on Aug. 15 and claims 1400 members according to vice president Debra Corr.
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