Council tables environmental review for Humane Society project

Published Feb 15, 2018 at 4:00pm

The Common Council tabled legislation Wednesday that would declare no significant environmental impacts for putting a new Humane Society of Rome headquarters on Rome-New London Road next to the Erie Canal Village near the Fort Bull site.

The Society is proposing to build a 13,000 square foot facility at the north end of the Village’s parking lot on Rome-New London Road, on land owned by the city. There would be an asphalt parking area and a storm water management system.

The legislation provoked comments from several members of the public during the meeting.

Bobbie O’Brien of Martin Drive noted her disappointment with the decision and said she hopes the Society keeps its promise regarding the building’s aesthetics. She also pointed out several instances in the environmental review application where there were sections left blank.

Arthur Simmons of Francis Street, former executive director of the Rome Historical Society, said he disagreed with the legislation stating there would be no “large or important impacts” by the project. He noted that the review states the use is not allowed in the zone and that no zone change has been proposed. He also noted some blanks left in the application regarding historic information, and added that it is common knowledge to parties involved in the project that the nearby Fort Bull site will be nominated later this year for historic recognition status.

Councilor Kimberly A. Rogers, R-3, who represents the area, noted that all relevant government agencies were contacted about the review and none raised objections. She did vote all with her six colleagues to table the matter however.

Councilor Ramona L. Smith, D-4, joined Rogers in voicing concerns over blanks in the review. “I was also troubled by some of the blanks on the application,” added Councilor A. Robert Tracy, R-7.

Matt Andrews, deputy director of the Department of Community and Economic Development, said some blanks were the responsibility of the Humane Society. Others, he said, were left that way to be filled in after any discussions by the council, which is the lead agency for the environmental review.

The council did vote unanimously to approve the other environmental review on the agenda, for the Waterfront Village infrastructure project near the Erie Canal between the James and Mill Street bridges. The city issued a declaration that there would be no significant environmental impacts related to the project.

Waterfront Village is paired with the proposed housing complex at the site of the former DeWitt Clinton school on Ann Street, and extends to the canal’s waterfront between the bridges. The site covers 15.28 acres south of downtown with frontage along the canal and Mohawk River. It’s about 3,300 feet between the bridges.