By Nathan Mayberg
WURTSBORO February 25, 2005 The Town of Mamakating Planning Board will need at least two more weeks before it can call the Yukiguni Maitake Mushroom Plants final environmental impact statement complete.
The proposed mushroom plant has aroused a storm of controversy in the town for its plans to build a 925,000-square-foot, 83-foot-high mushroom factory on 47 acres of land on the corner of Route 209 and McDonald Road in Wurtsboro, which would use up to 366,000 gallons of water a day.
The company, which is based in Japan, is hoping to receive a number of code variances to build a complex estimated to be approximately double the size of the nearby Kohls Distribution Center.
The statement currently lacks final elevation drawings, which is a paramount concern for fire safety. The final statement must also incorporate the responses to the boards comments and questions, as well as the general publics.
At the boards Tuesday evening meeting, planning board member Robert Fiore expressed concern that none of his questions had been properly addressed, particularly his requests for an organizational chart. Such a chart should include job descriptions and salaries in a chart-like fashion, said Fiore.
Company attorney Charles Bazydlow stated that the company had sufficiently responded to his requests through prior memos.
Bazydlow further commented that not all of the public and boards comments would be addressed in the final statement, but that some of them would.
In addition, Bazydlow felt that the companys memorandum responses to various questions since the final statement was introduced in November were sufficient to be considered final.
However, nearly all of the board, including its engineer David Higgins and attorney Ira Cohen, stated that the statement must include the questions and answers integrated into the statement, rather than piecemeal.
Planning Board Chairman John Piazza said the board found it difficult to find the answers to their questions in the manner in which it was presented.
Bazydlow repeatedly applied pressure to the board in order to get the statement accepted conditionally as final until the next meeting, March 8. He said the company couldnt afford to lose two weeks of time.
Most of the board stood steadfast, saying they couldnt accept the statement as complete until they saw the finished product. Only one board member, Edna Fedun (appointed last year by the town board), offered to make an exception for the company. But in the end, she declined to consider the statement complete.
The meeting was once again preceded by a closed-door meeting involving the entire board, along with its engineer. Several local citizens took issue with the meeting, since it was not announced as an executive session and the board did not give any reasoning for closing its doors.
Piazza denied it was a meeting. Other board members said it only covered technical issues. Board member John Malmgreen refused to comment.
Paula Medley, president of the Baska Kill Area Association (a local environmental group consisting of approximately 500 members, mostly in the town, who oppose the plant), had a prepared statement afterwards.
The town planning board is responsible for the adequacy and accuracy of the FEIS, and so, if the document is incomplete, the planning board will be held accountable in later action for not having taken a hard look at the projects impacts. Therefore, the board should take its time in determining completeness.