GOSHEN – Merlin Entertainments’ $500 million Legoland plan will face its most important public hearing yet on Thursday, as the town Planning Board votes on whether the company has adequately completed its state-mandated environmental review.
The meeting at 7:30 p.m. in Goshen’s Emergency Management Office at 22 Wells Farm Road, culminates a 13-month review since Merlin’s June 2016 application to develop 150 acres of a 522-acre site near Route 17′s Exit 125.
Planning Board Chairman Lee Bergus said board members have relied on unique personal expertise and consultants, including a hydrogeologist, an environmentalist, traffic engineers and others.
“It’s a tremendous responsibility because of the project’s nature, scope, magnitude, and the potential for changing Goshen,” Bergus said.
“We know we’re charged with that responsibility to the public to get it right, and we’re doing our damnedest to get it right.”
Bergus promised that the board is no rubber stamp, and its members care about Goshen.
“I’m not making these board decisions for someone else, and I’m not moving away and leaving them for someone else” to deal with, Bergus said. “That goes for the whole board. We’re all invested in the area – every one of us.”
If the Planning Board certifies Merlin’s final environmental impact statement on Thursday, the public will have a brief period to offer feedback, which the board would consider before voting on a findings statement enumerating final measures for Merlin to take to mitigate Legoland’s potential effects.
After that step, Goshen’s Town Board would still need to change local laws to allow theme parks and to create a commercial overlay zoning district for Merlin’s site. And the Planning Board would have to sign off on Legoland’s final site plan.
Michael Sussman, an attorney representing opponents of the park, said no amount of review will make the site…