The purpose of the meeting was to seek public comment on the project's scoping document, a detailed list of items that must be studied for the project's environmental review. The items, along with public feedback, will be covered under a Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
The gathering began at the town's annex building but was moved to the main assembly room across the street at the Town House due to an overflow crowd. The annex meeting space was standing-room only, with scores of people stuck in the hallway.
Comment on the scoping document, which developer Wilder Balter will use, did not start until after 9:30 p.m., as several people asked about another document for the process, an Environmental Assessment Form. The scoping review was done page by page.
Attendees included numerous residents from The Farms, a nearby neighborhood. They posed a litany of questions and concerns, including impacts on traffic, community character, wildlife, emergency services, sewage and water supply.
Farms resident Rita Bender voiced concerns about a proposed clubhouse and about the project's scale.
"It’s like a new community."
Robert Schmidt, a Farms resident, requested study information pertaining to the review of Rippowam Cisqua's proposed (but never built) high school on the same site not be incorporated into the process. Board Chairwoman Deirdre Courtney-Batson largely agreed, except regarding archaeological data.
Some residents asked for more comment time. The board voted to leave open public comment on the document for 30 days.
Greg Siddons, a Farms resident who said he was getting a coalition together, suggested leaving the comment period open another 60 or 90 days but was rebuffed by Courtney-Batson. He said they also are considering hiring an attorney.
Some residents also were skeptical about Wilder Balter hiring experts for its studies, even though the data would be reviewed on behalf of the town.
Courtney-Batson also stressed the limits of the board's authority and warned against having the town in court if unreasonable demands were imposed upon the developer.
“If the town is unreasonable in what it requests, the town will end up in trouble, and should.”
On traffic, attendees and the Courtney-Batson agreed on studying impacts to nearby roads and a coverage area including downtown Bedford Village and the Fox Lane intersection.
The impact of enrollment increases on schools was another topic discussed.
One certainty is the project will not be called "Bedford Farm" as a working title suggested. The name change was confirmed by William Balter, a principal with the developer, in response to a concern from a Farms resident. Balter attended the meeting and answered questions.
The board voted to leave comment open for 30 days and could revisit the document on April 28.
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