A dozen people testified Thursday night about the impact a proposed casino project will have on the rural character of the Seneca County town of Tyre. But, that wasn't what the Town Board wanted to talk about. The public hearing kept drifting off course when it was supposed to focus on a new law that the Town Board is proposing. The law, known as a Planned Unit Development or PUD, establishes the zoning framework for Wilmorite's Class III gaming facility and resort.
The town's strategic plan - developed some 30 years ago - never anticipated anything quite like Wilmorite's expansive casino project. Planning Board Chair, Bob Seem, says the town had to seek advice on how best to proceed in dealing with the Wilmorite proposal:
Seem made those comments during a very crowded and extremely noisy recess at the Tyre Town Board meeting inside the Magee Volunteer Fire Department. A second public hearing on the proposed PUD legislation is scheduled for February 20th and Seem expects it will be adopted by the Board. At that point, the Town should receive a formal application from Wilmorite for permission to build its Casino project.
In the meantime, Seem says the Town is fast tracking things in order to be prepared in the event the Wilmorite project secures a governmental approval - a decision that he says will be made in November - according to comments made by Governor Cuomo during his State of the State address.
Another issue that came up at the Board meeting on Thursday was the need to expedite the complete overhaul of the Town's outdated Strategic Plan and replace it with a revised Comprehensive Zoning Plan. A committee of three zoning board members will be in charge of that assignment and are expected to be finished in time for next month's Board meeting.
After Thursday's regular meeting, the Board held an executive session to discuss the hiring of an engineering firm - billed to Wilmorite - to assist in dealing with the Wilmorite project; something that's required in the PUD legislation. Interestingly, Wilmorite's own consultants drafted the PUD legislation for the Town of Tyre, but Seem sees no conflict of interest in that somewhat curious fact:
Seem says Wilmorite is already undertaking a long form environmental impact study that will address everything from lighting to traffic to drainage.