TOWN OF GOSHEN – The Goshen
Town Planning Board voted 5-1 to accept Merlin Entertainments’ Final Environmental
Impact Statement for their proposed Goshen Legoland amusement park following
a public hearing Thursday evening.
The large crowd included supporters …
… and opponents
Debra Corr of the grassroots group Stop Legoland Goshen said despite this decision they will continue to oppose the project.
“It’s not over yet,” said Corr. “It’s not a done deal. We have a lot to go and we have a lot of fight in us and we’re going to continue to fight ‘til we stop Legoland,”
Planning board Chairman Lee Burgess said despite claims by opponents, they are not rushing through the process.
“We are not fast tracking it,” Burgess said. “This is a normal timeframe. The applicant is working with some very good, efficient consultants. They are not unfamiliar with developing a park and at the same time we have our consultants.”
The use of an alternate board member, due to Diana Lupinski’s recusal from the voting because of a photo of her wearing a Lego pin, caused some controversy with Legoland opponents.
Corr said such a major decision should not have been made without all elected board members present.
“Unfortunately, I think we need to vet; all these people on this planning board are appointed, they’re not voted on, and I think they need to vet these people and educate these people more before they make big decisions, like this, for our town.”
Burgess defended the board’s alternates and regarded them as being highly qualified to vote on such a matter in the instance a board member is absent.
“We do have alternates for that purpose that have been involved with the project since day one, just because people do take vacations, people do get sick, people have work commitments,” said Burgess. “Being on a board is not a full-time job. It may feel like it sometimes when you get these reams of papers to study, but it is something that we do have to have backup provisions and we do have two alternates available to us for any given situation.”
Regardless of whether the alternate had voted against the motion, it still would have passed, requiring only a 4-3 turnout.
The next step in the Legoland project municipal process will be having the
planning board vote on the finding statement, which will mark the end
of the SEQRA process. As there were typographical errors noticed within
the FEIS, the revised version is set to be available to the public, as
well as relevant agencies, by July 25. A comment submission period of
10 days will then begin, after the revised version has been released,
for the public and those relevant agencies.
Legoland Project and Community Relations chief Phil Royle said the company
believes “we have demonstrated complete transparency and responsiveness
to every question and comment made by the planning board, the board’s
consultants and the community.” He said they “pledge to continue
this as we work with the town to successfully address concerns.”