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May 23, 2008 10:38 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Town Planning Board has more questions on Woodfield Gables study

May 23, 2008 10:38 AM

Some members of the Southampton Town Planning Board are still concerned that they don’t have enough information about a plume of contamination under a proposed 38-lot subdivision in Speonk.

There was a brief bit of fireworks between Planning Board members last Thursday, May 22, when Planner David Wilcox asked them to make decisions about the Woodfield Gables application when it was not listed on the agenda.

Mr. Wilcox asked board members if they were willing to review new plans for a soil vapor barrier, which would be installed under the proposed houses to prevent residents from being exposed to contamination in the soil. The subdivision would be located on 160 acres off Old Country Road.

He also asked whether they were satisfied with an environmental report that they received last month from H2M, a consulting firm hired by developer Tom Datre to review the contamination at the site.

The Planning Board had issued a decision last October stating that the project did not require an extensive state-mandated environmental review, but that decision was reached before board members learned about the contamination.

“This is not on the agenda. This is being pushed through. I have a ton of questions,” said Planning Board member Jacqui Lofaro. She added that the source of the contamination has not yet been determined and the parameters of the plume have not been established.

Last month, H2M representatives Dennis Kelleher and Paul Lageraaen told Planning Board members that the groundwater plume, made up of dense volatile organic compounds, is at least 40 feet below ground. They also said that public water proposed at the site could keep residents safe from contamination.

The H2M representatives said that there is also chloroform in the soil, above the groundwater, at levels ranging from 5.9 to 540 micrograms per liter. They did not analyze the public health risks associated with such a level of contamination. The soil vapor barrier had been designed to keep residents from being exposed to that contamination.

“We’ve done extraordinary due diligence,” said Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty. “My suggestion is that we take action.”

Only five of the board’s seven members were in attendance at last week’s meeting, and three of them were opposed to voting on the environmental report.

“I think we ought to question it more,” said Planning Board member Lawrence Toler.

“This is a CYA situation,” added fellow board member Blair McCaslin. “I agree with Jacqui.”

The board will discuss the project again at its June 12 meeting, when the application is expected to be included on the agenda and more members are expected to be in attendance.

Mr. Wilcox also told members of the Planning Board that they do not need to rescind the October decision regarding the application, a move that would require the applicants to complete a full and costly environmental review of the property. He said the developers have since submitted a new plan and the board’s evaluation will need to be completely redone.

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