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Jun 26, 2008 6:10 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Planning Board agrees to rescind earlier decision for Woodfield Gables

Jun 26, 2008 6:10 PM

The Southampton Town Planning Board next week is expected to begin the process of rescinding its decision that the Woodfield Gables subdivision in Speonk, which sits on top of a plume of contaminated groundwater, did not need an extensive environmental review.

The board agreed to begin the proceeding for the 160-acre parcel, located at the corner of Speonk-Riverhead and Old Country roads in Speonk, at the close of its June 26 meeting.

In the fall of 2006—before the Planning Board knew about the groundwater contamination—board members decided that the project would only need a minor environmental review. If the decision is rescinded, the project must be given a stringent environmental review before it can be moved forward in the planning process.

In response to environmental concerns, developer Tom Datre has agreed to provide public water for the proposed 57-home development. He has also promised to install a barrier that would prevent contaminants from the soil vapor from entering the homes, which experts said would protect future residents from the contamination. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has just begun an in-depth investigation into the source and extent of the plume.

Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty, who had previously stated that he believed the board had done “extraordinary due diligence” in its review of the project, has apparently changed his opinion.

“We’re all in agreement,” he said during the meeting, after polling the rest of the board about rescinding the negative declaration.

The board will need an extensive list of findings to justify its action and protect itself from a potential lawsuit, and next week’s resolution to rescind the negative declaration is only the beginning of that process.

The Planning Board’s attorney, Elizabeth Vail, cautioned that the board would need to involve both Mr. Datre and all other involved government agencies in the process of rescinding the negative declaration.

“I understand the urgency, but we need to allow the applicant a reasonable amount of time,” said Ms. Vail.

See also: Scientists urge residents living above toxic plume to contact the governor

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