The public hearing on the Primax/Dollar General Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was opened by the Planning Board Chairman. All members of the Board were present. Steven Reynolds summarized the Board’s process of evaluating the proposal. It is in the SEQRA process (State Environmental Quality Review Act), —like any other proposal, Primax’s was evaluated for its impact on various aspects of the environment, from plants and animals, archeology and local history, to the consistency with the town’s Comprehensive Plan. In April, 2016, a positive declaration was made, and the Planning Board tried to identify any negative impacts which could occur if a Dollar General store were to be built at the proposed site on 9G. Primax was asked to provide answers to these concerns in a DEIS. A draft scoping document, and then a final scoping document, gave the applicant a guide for what needed to be addressed in the DEIS. Last month, the Planning Board declared that the DEIS was complete, and that it provided the public with enough information on which to comment. The acceptance of the DEIS does not mean that the potential negative impacts have been mitigated.
The legal representative for Primax, Mr. John Privitera, of the law firm McNamee Lochner in Albany presented a summary of their proposal. Primax wants to build a 9,266 square foot Dollar General store on a 1.4 acre subdivision of land currently owned by the Garden Center. They claim that the plan is consistent with Germantown’s Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Laws, and stated that the building is not within the Scenic Viewshed Overlay. The building would be 19 feet 10 inches in height, 71 feet wide, and 135 feet deep, would utilize town sewer lines, and have a private well. There would be 38 parking spaces. An estimated 8 to 12 people would be employed.
The meeting was then opened to public comment from Germantown residents. A total of 27 people spoke— 21 were against the proposal, 5 were in favor of it, and 1 person was neutral.
The residents who spoke in favor of Dollar General uniformly stated that they wanted the convenience of having a variety store in town.
The residents who spoke against the Dollar General proposal voiced a number of reasons for their opposition. They are summarized as follows:
- It is not in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan’s community vision for the development of small scale, locally owned businesses
- It will have a significant negative impact on the town’s unique rural, historic, and agricultural character
- The size of the proposed building does not comply with guidelines stated in the town’s Zoning Laws
- It does not comply with the Scenic Viewshed Overlay
- It would set a poor precedent for allowing strip mall, fast food, and big box store development along Route 9G
- It will be detrimental to local businesses such as Stewart’s, X-tra Mart, Otto’s, and the Gulf convenience store
- It would have little economic benefit; Dollar General employs few people in part-time, low wage, high turnover jobs, with no benefits. Most tax revenue would go to the county, not the town
The board members answered questions about the next steps of this process. Public comments will be accepted until noon on October 25th, although the comment period can be extended if necessary. Primax will compile a summary of both the public and written comments, which will define issues that the company must still address. There will also be a technical review to determine compliance with the Zoning Laws. Site plan and subdivision review will begin and a final public hearing will be held. The Planning Board will write a Final Environmental Impact Statement, which will state the positive and negative impacts of the proposed project. The board can then decide to approve or deny the proposal. However, if Primax makes changes to their plan, there would be another public hearing for comment.
The meeting was adjourned after all questions had been answered.
By Cynthia Reichman