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Supermarket site plan review continues

NORTH EAST — John Joseph of Southern Realty & Development, LLC, the developer behind the supermarket proposal, appeared before the North East Planning Board on Wednesday, Aug. 24, to discuss his project’s progress.He started with a question for the board, asking if it would like for the site plan to keep its lighting in line with the lighting that currently exists at Thompson Plaza. The as-of-yet-unnamed 36,000-square foot supermarket is to be built on a 10-acre lot behind Thompson Plaza, off Route 44 in the Boulevard District. The site is owned by Quinmill Properties.The board responded that at this time, it finds the lighting fixtures at Thompson Plaza acceptable, and that they should be fine for the market to duplicate.Topics quickly changed, and Joseph said he received the water report, but that he fell “a little short” in summing it up for the board due to time limitations. He did say that the pump will be kept in closed storage that will likely be underground; the tank is expected to hold 15,000 gallons for fire flow.“We did an analysis and the village agreed to supply water to us,” Joseph told the board, which was something that had to be figured out before plans could be finalized. He added there was also an analysis done for fire flow, but again, he said he “fell a little short.”Millerton Mayor John Scutieri was on hand at the meeting; he clarified the village agreed to supply the water in concept — nothing has been written down on paper as of yet nor has the Village Board voted on the decision.“So many pieces of the puzzle have to come together,” commented Planning Board Chairman Dale Culver.“I think we’re all in agreement with each other that the village will extend the waterline,” Joseph said. He then moved on to an issue that spoke to the way the Planning Board is approaching the project, which includes having its planner, Will Agresta, guide the review process.“I am going to address Will’s comments in a letter we received, but request the board to ask him to comment really on planning issues,” Joseph said. “He has several things on grading, erosion, water — these are all under the scope of [engineers at] Morris Associates.”Agresta took umbrage at the comment.“I respectfully disagree,” he said. “It falls under Morris Associates … but bringing it all together under the Planning Board and the State Environmental Quality Act [SEQRA] is my responsibility.”“So you’re going to review all of [Morris Associate’s engineer] Ray [Jurkowski’s] work?” asked Joseph, referring to the town engineer. Joseph was concerned he was paying the town to review the same work twice, as his escrow payment went toward paying for Jurkowski to review the plans and then toward Agresta to review Jurkowski’s work. (Jurkowski was not present at the meeting.)“I’m not reviewing Ray’s work, I’m just keeping things on track to make sure the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted,” Agresta said.“Will wasn’t telling Ray how to do his work, he was just saying that part of the section needed to be filled in,” Culver said. “It was a misunderstanding.”“He’s looking at what’s technical,” added Agresta, referring to Jurkowski. “I’ll look at planning and environmental. There’s a connection between the two.”“My concern is the application will be piecemeal,” Joseph said. “We were dragging our feet for a while but now we’re going full tilt.”“I think you said you would like more information in a lump,” said board member Bill Kish.Board member Chip Barrett thought differently.“One thing we talked about is that we don’t want to get things in a big pile,” he said. “Was this the board that said it wanted information to come in slowly so we can take time in reviewing it, or was I in a meeting on another planet?” asked Culver.Some board members nodded in agreement. Culver asked for suggestions.“There’s no way to do it all at once … but we have to have a good understanding of what the project entails,” said Agresta.Culver said that applicants are part of the process, certainly, but they don’t dictate the terms of the process.Joseph said he would submit the various reports he’s done thus far, including one on bog turtles and one on traffic.There was also a brief discussion about the need for pedestrian access. Board members David Shapiro and Leslie Farhangi both said they were satisfied with how the application has been progressing thus far, considering its size and complexity.The board then moved to declare itself as lead agency for the project, which means it will spearhead the environmental review process. The Planning Board sent a letter to interested and involved parties to notify them of its intent to be lead agency; none contested, making its declaration unanimous and free of controversy.

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