Bath resident: Show me the report

Mary Perham
Steve Bates

A Bath resident is considering legal action to prevent further construction of the Bath Electric Gas and Water Systems substation on Fairview Drive.

Steve Bates, the nearest neighbor of the mammoth substation, told village board members Monday the project’s March 2007 application was lax and included a number of discrepancies and violations.

But the overriding issue right now is whether the 2007 report is still valid, Bates said.

“It was allowed for 18 months,” Bates said, waving a copy of the 4.5-year-old application. “You need to go through the whole process again.”

Mayor Donna Simonson said village Attorney John Leyden, absent from Monday’s meeting, had a copy of an environmental impact study on the project.

“Well, where is it then?” Bates said. “No one can find it.”

Village officials said this week there has been no site plan review by the village planning board.

The construction of the substation in a highly residential area has upset residents in the Fairview-Mountain View Drive area.

Two weeks ago, under the Freedom of Information Law, The Courier obtained the project application approved by the BEGWS Commission in March 2007. The report was signed by BEGWS Director Matt Benesh, who recently retired. At the time, Benesh also was the director of the commission, which had oversight of the village-owned utility.

The 2007 review showed the project was to be located on Fairview, but did not show its specific location. It also showed the project would:

• Be located over a primary, principal or sole source aquifer.

• Be near a building, site, or district listed on the state or national registers of historic places.

• Be located in a 100-year flood plain.

• Produce operating noises exceeding local ambient (normal) noises.

• Impact aesthetic resources.

Under state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations a project needs to undergo an environmental impact study if it will significantly affect the target area. The study includes public hearings and a public comment period, during which people may raise objections to the project. The agency sponsoring the project then shows how it will reduce the problems.

However, the 2007 application signed by Benesh on behalf of the BEGWS Commission said the project would not have a negative effect on the area.

The village board dissolves that commission in May 2008 and took on oversight of the utility until earlier this month, when a new commission was appointed.