Lloyd residents had their say on the Dollar General project June 28 before the Town of Lloyd Planning Board. That isn’t to say that opinions haven’t been shared at meetings and on social media before then, but these comments were made during a public hearing, and carefully recorded by a paid stenographer.
The so-called Dollar General project is much larger and more complex than the nickname might suggest. Three parcels, totaling 21.7 acres, along Route 9W and including the existing Burger King, Trustco Bank, and a strip mall are included. A Dollar General would be constructed on one of those lots, and a 72-unit apartment complex would be built behind those businesses, with the strip mall refurbished to match. One more lot created along Route 9W would not be developed as a part of this plan.
Apartment dwellers would live in one of the 12 three-story buildings, and each unit will include a patio or deck. They would enter and exit via Mile Hill Road, where new stop signs would be installed to mitigate the increased traffic. The new residents would have a community building for “playing ball or doing something,” according to the project architect; a fire pit is also proposed.
There is a large pond adjacent, which would be in its own lot that would be protected from development with a deed restriction. Numerous rain gardens and recharge basins designed to reduce the amount of runoff now seen from the site would discharge treated storm water into that pond.
Neighbor Gerri Bash spoke about evidence of contamination she had discovered by requested documents from state environmental officials. The problem dates back decades, she said, and she speculated about the impacts of building there without doing a better job of cleaning it up.
A representative of developer MCBS DG Highland LLC, John Joseph, stated later that the levels of contamination had never risen high enough to require a cleanup. “There is no cleanup to be done,” he said.
Nevertheless, Bash harped on the fact that even a town sewer line wasn’t allowed on the property when it was considered before the turn of the century.
Bash also asked of the pond, “Will it still be a swamp, or a lake?” She and other neighbors refer to the area as a “swamp,” she said, because its water level is quite low; raising it with storm water discharge might change its environmental character.
Leonard Casabura, remembering the $35,000 in damage his home suffered when Irene blew over, wondered what recourse he might have if this project actually resulted in more flooding of his property.
While some were likewise concerned about runoff and contamination, Dennis Totten lives upstream and instead questioned the traffic study. He said Mile Hill Road is “not even a legitimate two-lane road,” and that he doubted a stop sign would do much to change that fact.
Totten also spoke about the wildlife living in the area, expressing concern not for the creatures themselves but the impact on nearby humans if copperheads and coyotes are disrupted. “Who keeps them out of our homes?” he asked.
New planning Board chairman Peter Brooks attempted to take control of the process by having it explained that board members are expected to listen, but not reply during a public hearing. He did not choose to set time limits on verbal testimony, but did remind members of the public that written comments are welcome.
The hearing was continued to July 26.