Fear and loathing in Geneseo

As if it hadn’t already been obvious, last night’s meeting of the Geneseo Planning Board brought further confirmation that something’s gone horribly wrong with the process in the board’s review of the Newman PDD proposal. The meeting started with a lecture from Newman attorney Tom Greiner about how the DEIS should not be a public document and the planning board should not listen to any “outside” opinions about the completeness of the document.

Thankfully, I was a few minutes late and missed this sermon. It’s probably just as well because my blood pressure immediately soared to dangerous levels once Chairman Folts turned the podium over to Tom Jerum, of Jerum-Ferrara, the wonderful folks who have quarterbacked this catastrophe.

Unfortunately there is only one play in the Newman-Jerum-Ferrara-Kamlet- Kennison-Coniglio-Folts-Greiner playbook: Do as little as possible about addressing the real concerns of the community, while huffing and puffing about what a great job they’re doing and threatening the board with a lawsuit if they continue to do their job correctly.

Man this is getting old! After the first two minutes of Mr. Jerum’s presentation, by which time I had already lost count of the number of lies, I was overcome with a wave of nausea and had to seek fresh air. After 20 minutes on a bench enjoying the beautiful early evening and our historic Downtown ambiance, I ventured back inside to hear the town’s consultants state the obvious: that the DEIS is woefully incomplete and does not come close to satisfying the scope that the Planning Board passed in February.

And then, big surprise, Mr. Ferum, had a 25-point rebuttal of the town’s consultant’s claims which boiled down to something like,”The answers you seek are hidden in the 900-page DEIS document, you just need to use our special decoder to uncover the disappearing ink.” At least that’s all I understood before I had to bolt out of the room with another wave of nausea.

By this time, I found I was not alone, as the group of citizens who could not stomach the proceedings had grown to at least 10. As we fulminated about the absurdity of allowing Newman to spring last minute technical arguments on the board without advance notice or the presence of the town’s chief engineer, word began to leak out from other refugees fleeing the debacle that the Newman railroad was running off the tracks.

Taking hope, I dared to return to the chamber of horrors one last time, just in time to hear Newman’s reps agree to a one-week extension of the deadline to decide completeness. They did this, no doubt, because it became clear that once again their strategy of overwhelming the board with lies and threats had failed.

As a parting shot they maintained that the 25 point argument that they had just presented to the Planning Board was not a public record. You’ve got to give these people credit for one thing: they lead the league in chutzpah!

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