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OLEAN - Plans to develop seven youth soccer fields as a safer version of the current facility were dealt a setback Monday night by the City of Olean Planning Board.
In the aftermath of recent meetings on the issue and opposition from neighborhood residents, planners reopened the state environmental review process into the project.
Board President Tom Barnes said he believes the impact on the neighborhood of the proposed project, on Grossman Avenue, is greater than originally thought.
The board, acting as lead agency, initially graded the project as "no to slight impact" to the neighborhood.
"Based on the information from the public hearing as to the impact on adjoining neighbors, I would like to change that answer to 'moderate to large impact,' " Barnes said.
Board member Mark Sabell said he still believes the soccer project won't impact the neighborhood significantly.
"I do not think a soccer field is going to be able to change the character of a neighborhood," he said.
Sabella was joined by board member Scott Johns in opposition, but the rest of the board prevailed.
Also approved for restudy was the impact of traffic - from "little to no" to "moderate to severe."
"An increase in traffic volume on the street would lead to an increase in traffic incidents," Barnes said.
"If vehicles are parked along the side of the streets, ingress and egress will be severely limited, especially for emergency vehicles."
The project calls for the creation of a parking lot to accommodate up to 60 cars.
Members of the board believe the lot is incapable of accommodating the traffic that would use all seven fields.
However, Olean Soccer Club representative Kris Linderman has said that the fields would not all be used simultaneously, that at most three would be used at one time and during a short summer soccer season.
The board also will reconsider possible environmental contaminants at the proposed site of the fields.
The soccer organization currently holds matches at a site off Spring Street, next to Eastview Elementary School. However, there is a danger of younger players running into the street to chase soccer balls, officials have said.
The board's action "restarts the clock" on the approval process, officials said. The issue will be discussed next during the Aug. 25 meeting of the Planning Board.