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Aug 15, 2008 3:28 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Planning Board stalls on Woodfield Gables

Aug 15, 2008 3:28 PM

The Southampton Town Planning Board has stalled yet again on rescinding its 2006 ruling that a proposed subdivision atop a plume of contaminated groundwater in Speonk did not require extensive environmental review.

After listening to testimony on new environmental data from the board’s independent consultant, Paul Lageraaen of H2M Group, the board was split Thursday over whether to rescind its 2006 negative declaration on the 57-lot Woodfield Gables subdivision. That decision was issued before the board was made aware of the contamination. The proposed subdivision is located just west of Speonk-Riverhead Road on Old Country Road in Speonk.

Four members were for rescinding the decision, Chairman Dennis Finnerty and board member George Skidmore were opposed, and Vice Chairman John Blaney said that he had more questions for the board’s attorney before he could make a decision.

The board heard more than 90 minutes of testimony in which Mr. Lageraaen reiterated his position that the highest readings of 110 parts per billion of chloroform in the soil vapor are not a threat to human health. Mr. Lageraaen also added that a “soil vapor barrier” proposed by the project’s developer, Tom Datre, under the houses would protect the residents from being exposed to the chemical.

Though Mr. Lageraaen presented a variety of statistics from health agencies ranging from OSHA to the World Health Organization about the risks of exposure to chloroform in soil vapor, New York State has no guidelines for how much of the chemical is acceptable.

Ultimately, the Planning Board decided to wait until September 4 to take action on the resolution to rescind the negative declaration because the board’s regular attorney, Elizabeth Vail, was not present at Thursday’s meeting and board members said she may need to amend the resolution.

Mr. Datre, who was in the audience, repeatedly whispered the words “sue them” to his attorneys, David Gilmartin, Jr. and Andrew Campanelli, throughout the meeting. Mr. Campanelli, who again reminded the board of the probability of a lawsuit if they rescind their decision, reiterated his position that the Planning Board had not shown any evidence that the actual project, not the underlying contamination, will create a significant environmental impact. If the board rescinds its negative declaration, it may or may not issue a positive declaration, requiring Mr. Datre to complete an extensive and expensive Environmental Impact Statement.

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