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Decision on Willow Woods subdivision in Town of Hamburg is still up in the air following a scoping session

BY: Steve Dlugosz | October 24, 2012

An ongoing, proposed project to install a subdivision containing 49 homes in an area off of Taylor Road is still on hold, with various questions remaining on testing of the former refuse site and fully discerning overall boundary parameters.

These matters were discussed at last Wednesday’s (Oct. 17) meeting of the Town of Hamburg Planning Board, which conducted a public scoping session that addressed work completed and efforts still to be done as part of the proposed Willow Woods Subdivision project. The scope followed the planning board’s decision on Sept. 5 to issue a positive declaration pursuant to the New York State Environmental Quality Review. The project area at Taylor Road is described as being 141.67 acres in size, although 63 of are conservationally preserved.

Planning Board Chairman Peter Reszka stated that main issues remaining for the project include testing at a site said to be a former landfill dumping area from the 1950s, which includes analyzing ridges where garbage had been found, as well as other ridges that have yet to be examined, to go along with concerns over exactly how large (boundary wise) the area is and how outwardly expansive the examination should be. Town of Hamburg planning consultant Andrew Reilly described scoping as an optional process that includes public residents having input, as well as the consideration of an environmental impact statement. The traffic impact is also being looked at as a potential issue.

Senior Project Manager Robert J. Pidanick of Nussbaumer & Clarke Inc., said that three separate tests of ridged areas had been administered, occurring once in 1995 and twice in 2012, with local environmental firm SJB Services having dug out the site in question within the last year, and Building Solutions providing site excavation. Property owner James Yoviene said $14,000 has been invested toward testing, with results being sent to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which Yoviene said found nothing showing harm. It was additionally noted by the DEC, Yoviene said, that no additional migration of the materials found at the site’s tested ridges had occurred.

Planning Board member David Bellissimo stated that he and other planning board members had walked through the dump site with ridges- noting the three areas of dug lines that had been tested, although adding that several other lines of non-tested, cut-earth existed- and that old pharmaceutical bottles, trash and vehicles remains were found. It was additionally stated that it is likely that the site’s wetland area had not been touched by the sedimented earth. However, it was also said that proof of more extensive groundwater testing had been asked for- with an eye on possible contamination- additionally requesting future maintenance of monitoring wells once the subdivision’s homes are constructed.

Pidanick later stated that it was his understanding that the planning board is requesting a full extent of the site’s circular ridged area, wider than the positioned five markers and in a more southwest and southeast direction. Todd Huber of Building Solutions asked if site material that was generated 60 years ago and is found to be non-hazardous and not harmful can be left in the existing area.

Conservation Advisory Board Chairman Douglas Nichols replied that the refuse site in the noted project area could have at one time been subject to “midnight dumping,” an occurrence in which an individual entered an unguarded dump site and dispersed barrels of transformer oils. He added that subsequently, the barrels could have corroded with hypothetical “leeching” of the substance as a contaminant resulting.

“We think we know what’s (in the refuse site soils), but we’re not (completely sure),” Nichols said.

Nearby property owner Phil Pratt, speaking to the Planning Board, explained that his six acres includes two buildings and vacant land. He added that his property is located adjacently to Taylor Woods, with a drainage feed dispersing into a pond that overflows and floods his land on occasion. Pratt said it is his hope that the subdivision installation project does not cause an increase in overflowing occurrence to the nearby area.

“I don’t want my property to be further flooded and made (worse),” said Pratt, whose property is located at 6540 Taylor Road.

Reszka responded that storm water issues must be addressed and maintained by parties involved in project parameters to ensure the well-being of the environment and surrounding residents, according to law.

Planning Board member Stephen McCabe said current specifics should be attained for items involving the dimensions of the marked site, delineation of the site area, display of the site at 1-inch (dug) intervals, relation of the site in proximity to the wetlands, and the sampling of surface water flowing out of the refuse site.

Further discussion of the project was tabled until the planning board’s next meeting, which will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 7 at Hamburg Town Hall.

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