A proposed project new trucking terminal and warehouse on the border of Gardiner and Modena has residents concerned about its impact on the community.
The application, first submitted by Modena Developers, LLC, to the Town of Plattekill Planning Board on March 13, 2023, is for site plan approval and special permits for the development of the 451,050 square foot trucking terminal and warehouse facility on a 50.93 acre property at 1467 Route 44-55, Modena. It would include 116 parking spaces and 75 tractor/trailer loading docks.
A petition in opposition to the project, started by Patrick Cotter of Gardiner, currently has 834 signatures with the next goal of 1,000 signatures.
On Jan. 24, the Town of Gardiner submitted a 74-page document with comments and in objection of the Modena project.
“We respectfully submit that the applicant should consider a form of development of the Subject Property that does not have the severe adverse impacts that are reasonably anticipated to result from the current proposal, and that rather is in keeping with the zoning of the property and compatible with the surrounding uses and roadway networks,” read the letter addressed to Plattekill Planning Board Chairman Richard Gorres. “The proposed development does not even come close to conforming with these important criteria.”
The letter, drafted by Attorney Davion Yaffe on behalf of the Gardiner Environmental Conservation (ECC), urged the Plattekill Planning Board to declare a positive environmental declaration, meaning that the project would adversely impact the environment.
“Based on the 74-page document, I would be surprised if they don’t at least give the project a positive declaration but that is their decision to make and no one else’s,” said Michael Hartner, Town of Gardiner Board member.
Joan Parker, Chairperson of (ECC), said that the Modena Developers’ application does not provide the business environment expressed by Plattekill residents and is in conflict with the Town’s Master Plan.
“The applicant really did not have the interest of the community in mind at all. Just by the brazen size of the project I think shows that this is really about a land grab for somebody’s economic gain and not about long-term benefits for the community,” said Parker. “I would hope that they would just dismiss the application. That’s really difficult for planning boards to do for a number of reasons, but the next step is we hope that the applicant realizes that this is not going to happen. They could spend all the time they want, they can go back and do all the studies, but it’s not going to happen because it doesn’t fit with the community; it is just impossible with the infrastructure and the way of life that we have. Furthermore, the impact to the air quality and human health are really significant and the information is coming out that this is really bad for residents.”
The letter submitted by the ECC covered a wide range of concerns. The highlights are below.
Flora and Fauna
As the proposed site for the warehouse is surrounded by several wetlands, there are species of special concern that would be reduced and its movement altered, if construction of such project were to occur. Species include the Eastern box turtle, Indian bat (endangered), Northern long-eared bat (endangered), Wood turtle (species of special concern), Eastern hog-nosed snake (species of severe concern) and Jefferson salamander, Marbled salamander and Blue-spotted salamander (species of special concern).
Moreover, the proposed development would destroy the habitats of the existing wildlife that reside in the wetlands and surrounding area of the site. The destruction of the upland habitats would render the site unsuitable for many species to shelter, travel and engage in breeding activities. The construction of the proposed project which includes increased vehicular traffic, human activity and exterior lighting would also serve as a threat to the wildlife inhabitants of the site. Furthermore, several protected wetland plants that may exist on the proposed site location would be destroyed in the construction of the project. Some of these plants include the endangered ambiguous sedge, buttonbush dodder and ovate spikerush.
As the proposed location for the project lies within a designated Agricultural District and is adjacent to the Cole-Hasbrouck Farm Historic District, the type and scale of the proposed development may result in an increased development potential or pressure on established farmland.
Air Quality and Human Health
With the proposed development of the warehouse coming to the community, this would increase the number of heavy-duty trucks coming in and out of the neighborhood, which would result in air pollution and health- damaging NO2 emissions. Recent research connects childhood asthma, allergies, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, dementia, and stroke to diesel truck emissions. Additionally, air pollution raises the risk of preterm birth and low birth weights. Moreover, the construction of the proposed site would result in acres of ground disturbance, which would generate offsite dust. This would end up in the air and create a breathing hazard for people in the community.
While the applicant describes the development as a “light industrial warehouse”, it is the proposal for a major trucking terminal and massive warehouse that is 50 feet high, 485 feet wide and 930 feet long. This proposed warehouse/trucking terminal would be the first of this size in the area of the Town as it exceeds the size of other warehouse buildings in the area. It is said, the size of the proposed warehouse alone would accommodate 7.8 full size football fields or 180 homes some 2,500 square feet in size, readily contrasting with the mere 41 homes that presently exist in the vicinity of the subject property. The proposed warehouse is in sharp contrast to the rural residential community character, land use pattern, and building type that has been maintained over the last century in the Town. Furthermore, the proposed site may cause the devaluation of adjacent residential properties.
Transportation and Traffic
With the influx of trucks coming in and out of the community for the proposed site, this would increase traffic congestion around the facility and nearby roads in the Town, which would result in longer commute times for persons; difficulty in accessing local businesses and amenities; and driving hazards.
Noise and Light
The construction of the proposed site would produce noise pollution in the community that would exceed ambient noise levels. The operation of heavy machinery, heavy duty vehicles and the loading and unloading processes can contribute to the disturbance of the calm and serene atmosphere of the Town, leading to the stress, insomnia, and frustration of residents. Moreover, the massive size of the development would obscure the view of the natural beauty of the area for the residents and create a dark cast over the surroundings.
The decision to grant the applicant either a positive or negative declaration lies in the hands of the Town of Plattekill Planning Board. A positive declaration means that the proposed development has significant negative environmental impact on the community, and the preparation of an environmental impact statement should be required, while a negative declaration means that the proposed development does not have any significant or potential negative environmental impact on the community.