Wellsville, NY. County Supports Wal-Mart that Town Residents Don't Want
Lawmakers in Allegany County, New York are getting desperate. According to the Olean Times Herald, the county lawmakers voted to adopt a non-binding resolution offering support to a Wal-Mart project in Wellsville, New York that local residents have been fighting for years.
Here’s how the resolution, which looks like it was written by Wal-Mart, begins:
“Whereas the people of Wellsville and Allegany County are supportive of Wal-Mart coming to our area and recognize that jobs and increased business will improve quality of life, help support other retail establishments and would add a vibrancy to Wellsville by attracting more visitors to this commercial hub…,” The county lawmaker then urged the retailer to move to Wellsville and offered development incentives to move the project along. In a strange twist, none of the legislators spoke in support of the resolution, but it was approved.
A member of the Wellsville town board told the county that a Wal-Mart spokesman in charge of the project said the store was on an approve list. “Because it’s on the approved list, it’s not in the dumpster.”
The newspaper reports that “the store has been placed under review by a team of lawyers who will spend more than a month analyzing sales forecasts and other data.”
About three months ago, the group Wellsville Citizens for Responsible Development told Sprawl-Busters that the New York Supreme Court announced that the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, ruled that the Wellsville Town Board’s negative declaration of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) had been thrown out.
The 5 judges found that the concerns expressed by the public (WCRD) were valid but were not addressed by the Town Board in granting the development project the right to proceed.
In August, 2014 the Wellsville Town Board decided that there were no environmental matters left to be resolved in the Wal-Mart Impact Report, thereby green lighting the proposed construction of a Wal-Mart along the former Airport Road in Wellsville. When there are no issues of concern, a lead agency (in this case the Wellsville Town Board) may issue a “negative declaration” stating that no further study is needed and the project may proceed. The Court annulled the Town Board's position, essentially saying insufficient study was done and that the negative declaration was invalid.
The Appellate Division ruled on 4 substantive issues and determined that the Town Board was deficient in dealing with three of the issues. All issues dealt with local impacts. One was the impact of the proposal on wildlife. The second was the impact on the community character of the village and the third involved surface water. WCRD argued that the Town Board failed to take a “hard look” at those issues as required by the SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act). The Court found that the Town Board's failure to investigate the "veracity of the information was "arbitrary and capricious".
The Court further found that the Town Board failed to comply with the SEQRA regulations in studying the potential impact of the Wal-Mart project on the "community character of the village of Wellsville".
This Wal-Mart battle has been going on since 2007. Clearly there are residents in Wellsville who do not want this project in town, despite the non-binding resolution form people who don’t live in their community.
What you can do: This Wal-Mart battle has been going on since 2007. Clearly there are residents in Wellsville who do not want this project in town, despite the non-binding resolution from people who don’t live in their community. The county's resolution has no legal status, and is not binding in any way on the town of Wellsville.
For the Olean Times Herald story: