"The zoning change the town is pitching is totally inconsistent with the town's master plan"
""Legoland plans to tap into our already deteriorating and limited water and sewer."
BY FRANCES RUTH HARRIS
GOSHEN — The Stop Legoland group hosted a public information meeting at CJ Hooker Middle School on the evening of July 18.
Alec Phillips, a Goshen musician and a supporter of the STOP Legoland movement, played guitar and a harmonica before the slide show and speakers.
STOP Legoland presented views of the destruction Legoland would bring to the Goshen community.
Christine Miele, research facilitator, introduced speakers who addressed the negative aspects of taxes, traffic, water and sewer, and environmental damage. The group's concerns included how the massive theme park might affect services like EMT, fire, police, and zoning that speakers said defy the master plan in place for Goshen.
Activist and co-organizer Jessica Gocke, along with her mother, co-organizer Debra Corr, said she thinks the proposed site for Legoland makes absolutely no sense.
Gocke said the new zoning ideas, coupled with environmental decay, will negatively drain and destroy Goshen's quality of life.
The most moving and passionate speaker of the evening was attorney Michael Sussman, who said the proposed Legoland master plan is “totally illegal” because it does not adhere to the town's master plan at all.
He said the town board is considering a zoning change to fit the needs of Legoland’s pitched PILOT ("payments in lieu of taxes") agreement.
The pro-Legoland plan and the resulting zoning changes the town has proposed will adversely alter the quality of life of every member of the community, Sussman added.
The zoning change the town is pitching is totally inconsistent with the town's master plan, in Sussman's view.
To date, the Goshen board has introduced two pieces of legislation that would enable Legoland to become a reality: first, amending the zoning code, thereby creating a commercial recreation overlay zoning district that would allow commercial recreation; and, secondly, designing a law to amend the comprehensive plan allowing for commercial and tourism recreation in certain areas.
Sussman called for activism via the political process, not the legal process.
He said citizens have the right to fight for their way of life and not have it altered by a massive amusement park in their town.
He stressed that it is not a done deal.
He said that this is what the political process is intended to do: to address what is at stake.
He told the plus or minus 100 members of the audience that they deserve and have the right to demand clarity about exactly what is as stake; what the project would do to the community and its people.
Sussman said the citizens must not to be pawns in the game. He asked that people not to give up or let a possible lawsuit squash their activism and subvert their questions.
“We are not sheep," Sussman declared, "and we are not going to be treated as sheep.”
He commended the audience on their good work in fighting Merlin’s Legoland project in Goshen. He told them to remain strong and definitely attend the 7 p.m. meeting planned for Friday, July 21, also at CJ Hooker, for the Goshen town planning board's scoping session.
An 11-page document was available in the school lobby during the meeting, showing that the Lone Oak Subdivision had requested two zoning applications for Lone Oak TND, which were denied by the Goshen Planning Board in a SEIS report, subsections 1.3 report and 1.4 report.
Also available in the lobby were STOP Legoland signs, t-shirts and cards with printed information for mailing.
The STOP Legoland Group advises against Legoland with the following advice: "Advice to "Protect our Resources — Protect our Land — Say NO to Legoland."
"There is still time to save Goshen and Orange County!" the movement literature proclaims.
"Rezoning from residential to commercial will open the doors to other larger developments. This will lower property values for many residents and will not lower your tax base," the 11-page memorandum suggests. Other objections to the theme park included the following:
"Heavy traffic and delays due to the estimated 20,000 visitors per day with one entrance/exit to the theme park."
"Legoland plans to tap into our already deteriorating and limited water and sewer at our expense."
"There will be tons of additional waste in our landfills."
"Negative impact on public safety by draining our emergency services: police, fire department, hospitals, medical responders."
"Additional public services will be paid for by YOU, the taxpayer."
STOP Legoland has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stoplegoland — and a website: www.stoplegoland.com
To read the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Lone Oak Subdividision, see http://www.townofgoshen.org/PBOpenMeetFiles/LoneOak/LoneOakVolumeIScreen.pdf
An Industrial Development Agency meeting is scheduled for July 22 at 11 a.m., at the 911 Emergency Call Center on Wells Farm Road.