Eleven weeks ago the Village of Warwick Planning Board finally allowed public comment from residents regarding a proposed restaurant/bar at 16 Elm St.
Hundreds of residents signed petitions objecting to the placement of a 3,600 square foot facility in the heart of our quite neighborhoods. Scores of residents and experts got up and spoke to the Board.
Residents grassroots efforts produced sound, light, traffic and environmental experts to testify regarding the certain violation of the sound code, the likely violation of the light code, the depth of disturbance and potential harm to the residents and the fact that when all the rhetoric and legalese is peeled away this proposal is a prohibited use under existing code.
Attorneys for the applicant have taken 11 full weeks to respond to citizen concerns leaving us with a scant 10 business days to digest what it took an entire law firm and their hired experts 77 days to produce.
The Village Board can exercise eminent domain, resolve Main Streets dire parking and congestion issues, boost access for local businesses and secure the well being of the neighborhood, while creating multiple revenue streams to help hold down taxes. A public private venture has been proposed.
At the very least the Village Board should protect their own integrity by strongly suggesting that the Planning Board begin to follow NYS Environmental Quality Review guidelines by setting aside a recently issued negative declaration to allow further study of the impacts on the neighborhoods involved and the Village in general.
To date the Planning Board has not taken the SEQRA mandated “hard look” and has instead insisted that there will be “no impact” on the neighbors unnecessarily exposing the Village to lawsuits for disregarding its own code.
We have been told the Planning Board does not hold work sessions which means that they will either discuss the situation in executive session with no public scrutiny at all or decide our fate at a brief public meeting after they themselves have had 10 days to review what it took a law firm two and a half months to compose. What is the rush? We deserve better. Reopen SEQRA.