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  • Rich Klein


ROCK HILL - A new video has been produced by a citizen's group in Rock Hill known as The Lake Communities Alliance that's aimed at stopping Robert Berman and his partners from developing a warehouse project in the heart of Rock Hill known as the Avon Park Commercial Park.

The video, released on May 3, already has surpassed 6,600 views on YouTube.

"Help save the beautiful hamlet of Rock Hill from opportunistic over development that threatens the heart of the community," the group says in its YouTube description with the video.

The group has been vocal for months about its environmental and quality-of-life concerns over the project that is before the Town of Thompson Planning Board.

Although the video does not mention Avon Commercial Park by name, it's clear from the text and visuals, that is the reference.

On April 27, the Planning Board heard from the attorneys and engineers representing the project about traffic concerns, including those raised by the Highway Superintendent Rich Benjamin.

But the State Department of Transportation has not yet weighed in fully on the project, something that will now be required before the Board can issue a determination of significance.

Meanwhile, there was a video meeting held on April 21 about the project that included Tony Signorelli, the regional director of the DOT, County Public Works Commissioner Ed McAndrew, County Planning Commissioner Freda Eisenberg, Larry Wolinsky, counsel to the Thompson Planning Board as well as multiple members of the Lake Communities Alliance. Among them were Camille Johnston, Michael Gutnick, Michael Miller and Chet Smith, who organized the call.

On that call, Gutnick warned about a traffic increase of 74 percent in the area due to the proposed development and called for an updated traffic study by the town.

Miller, a former president of the New York State Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers' Association who has a home in Emerald Green, said on the call that "most of our concerns (about the project) have not been adequately addressed" and that an Article 78 hearing may ultimately be necessary.

Signorelli said on the call that the DOT's "final comments have not gone out" in reaction to the traffic study conducted by the applicant.

"New York State DOT in this instance in an involved agency," Signorelli told the group. "We're not the lead agency. But, we have a very high level of interest because the impacts to (Route) 17 are very important to us."

McAndrew said that traffic signal issues that have been raised at Planning Board meetings "could fall upon the County."

Signorelli closed out the call by saying he was taking notes about the concerns raised by the participants and "took away quite a bit of information" from the meeting.


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