Osmica Public HearingPatricia Van Every points to a plan of the Osmica project to illustrate the impact on her property of a proposed parking lot, and to advocate that the Planning Board require more plantings to buffer the lot from her property.

The public hearing for the Osmica Bed & Breakfast / Reception Venue project came to an end Monday, after nine neighbors spoke, for the most part urging the Town of Lansing Planning Board to use a long form environmental impact assessment, rather than the short form that would typically be used for a project of this size.  Opponents to the project have been speaking out since the public hearing began on January 28th.  While Planning Board Chairman Gerald Caward asked only for new comments and information, the gist of the speakers' message was the same -- they are concerned with noise, traffic and parking, lighting, temporary tents, the size of gatherings, and storm water runoff in their rural neighborhood.

"Remembering the many issues from our previous public hearings, I ask that the long form environmental review be used for this proposal as a tool to identify problems, leading to best solutions for the neighborhood," said Patricia Van Every.  "Since this form was previously used for the Dutch harvest Farm project, a smaller site with fewer guests in a much more remote location, we would expect this larger environmental form to be used here also."

Neighbors have frequently expressed concerns about noise, parking, and traffic, hoping to lock down the hours of operation for events at the venue.  Lauria Huizinga, who owns the Dutch Harvest Farm events venue project that recently received the go-ahead from the board, voluntarily restricted her hours, saying that amplified music would only be allowed between 9am and 11pm with the intention that cleanup and closing the facility would occur before midnight.  She also volunteered to give neighbors at least five days notice of fireworks.

But Town attorney Guy Krogh said the Planning Board doesn't have the authority to tell business owners how to run their venues," he said.

After allowing everyone who wanted to speak to address the board, Caward called for a motion to close the public hearing. A number of neighbors were concerned that they would no longer be able to address the board, saying that changes to the site plan might make new comments relevant.  Caward explained that changes to the site plan, including those imposed by the Planning Board, are a normal part of site plan review, but encouraged people to continue to forward written comments to the board via the Planning Department even though the public hearing has concluded.

SEQR Flow ChartDiscussion among board members centered on their legal obligation to use Short or Full Environmental Assessment Forms (EAFs) to satisfy the NY State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process.

The first step is for the lead agency, in this case the Planning Board, to determine that the action is either a Type I or an Unlisted Action.  A Type 1 action consists of nonresidential projects physically altering 10 or more acres of land zoning, and/or changes affecting 25 or more acres.  Unlisted Actions are typically smaller projects that are nonresidential projects physically altering less than 10 acres of land.

Krogh said the DEC recommends starting with the short form, and only proceeding to use the long form when the short form doesn't cover pertinent conditions.

"This clearly is an Unlisted Action.  The example the DEC gives is (to use the long form on an unlisted action only) if you are really close to one of the triggering thresholds for a Type 1 review," Krogh said. "I keep hearing comparisons between this facility and (the Dutch Harvest Farm events venue), which may, anecdotally sound accurate.  But the other facility was a Type 1 review,because of the amount of disturbance in an Ag district they went well over the 2.5 acre threshold for a Type 1 review.  There it was all new disturbance."

While Dutch Harvest Farm involves new constrution of a barn-like events venue building, most of the Osmica project involved renovations to the interiors of existing buildings, with the largest new disturbance being a large parking lot proposed for the east side of the property.  Krogh noted that 10 acres of ground disturbance constitutes a Type 1 Action, but in Agricultural districts only 2.5 acres triggers the long form review.  He noted that proposed new disturbance isn't quite an acre in the current proposal.

Krogh said the Planning Board would have to decide whether the .9 acres is close enough to 2.5 acres to trigger use of the long form.But he did say there is nothing preventing the board from using Part 1 of the long form as a guide when using the short form.

Caward said that every public comment would be considered by the board and requested that they be collated into bullet points that the board could go through, one by one, as they review the site plan.  He said that written comments would also be added for consideration, and that changes to the plan would continue to be posted to the Town Web site.

The Planning Board will likely continue its deliberations on the Osmica project at their next meeting on April 8th.