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IMPACT OF GOLF COURSE CONCERNS RESIDENTS

Plans to bring an 18-hole public golf course to the Town of Lewiston were in the rough Monday night as environmentalists and residents panned the environmental impact of the project.

The Town Board held a public hearing to discuss the environmental impact of Old Creek Links, a $6 million municipal golf course and 40-home housing development planned for a 200-acre site bounded by Robert Moses Parkway and Pletcher and Creek roads.

Issues such as secretive clay mining plans, wetlands protection and building homes on unsafe "hydric" soils similar to those in Amherst all were brought up.

Elizabeth S. Kaszubski, New York State wetlands chairwoman for the Sierra Club, suggested an alternative site.

Tony Wagner, a Lewiston resident and former president of the Buffalo Audubon Club, said they have not received enough information.

"Mining has not been addressed, and that's a terrible oversight. And you have not reviewed wetland impact on housing," Wagner said. "If the town gets stuck with the issues after the fact, then the town will have to rectify the problem. Someone will have to be held accountable and it shouldn't be the taxpayers."

Mike Dowd, attorney for Old Creek Links and a principal for the private development group, called the issues raised "red herrings" to avoid development.

"We specifically designed this to address drainage problems. To incorporate a golf course was a natural fit," Dowd said. "It was never perceived to be a mining project."

"Hydric soil is another red herring. State building codes require us to check the soil before building. Originally we were considering 80 homes. We want to work with the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) and have gone to 40 homes. Very nice, high-quality homes," he said.

Dowd also said they worked with the DEC to locate all of the protected shellbark hickory trees and will protect them without any fights.

Councilman John Ceretto said residents have until Aug. 9 to send any written questions to the Town Board. After a 45-day period, the final environmental report will be issued with answers to questions brought up by the public.

The golf course still faces public scrutiny of its financial impact and a referendum before development goes forward.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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