The owner of a large parcel of land that literally sits on the border of the town and village of Montgomery appeared before members of both municipal boards last week to state his case as to why his property should be entirely located within one municipality or the other.
Aden Brook, a hay supplier located on State Route 416 near Medline, seeks to annex its 111 acres under either the Town or the Village of Montgomery and further develop its property. The applicant appeared at the village’s November 11 meeting at the Montgomery Senior Center and informed both trustees and residents about their plans. Town of Montgomery Board members were also on hand, although the attorney for both boards stressed that this was not a joint public hearing, but merely an information session.
Nick Fitzpatrick, the owner of Aden Brook, stated that his property comprises 88 acres in the town and 23 acres in the village. He explained that merging the property under one municipality would simplify its utility procedures and provide the designated municipality with ratables.
“For reasons of simplicity and service, we would like to annex the entire acreage into either the village or the town to have access to utilities from either one,” Fitzpatrick said. “There could be significant benefits in the form of future ratables for the local taxpayers of either municipality, whichever one the acres annex into.”
Fitzpatrick also proposed two possible scenarios for Aden Brook’s future development if the annexation goes through. His first idea was adding a corporate park to the property, comprising 17 buildings for distribution and manufacturing purposes.
“The first option, as it’s now zoned, would be a corporate park consisting of approximately 17 buildings ranging in size up to the maximum allowed in the zoning, being 80,000 square feet,” Fitzpatrick said. The tenants would likely be a combination of distribution, manufacturing, trucking, and other allowed uses in the current zoning. And this would take place over some time.”
His alternative idea was a singular, one million-square-foot building that would include water well development, a community benefit fund, and public uses for both the town and village.
“This option would be to have one single building of one million square feet, similar to Medline that’s next door. Under this scenario, the existing infrastructure on the site would be changed and a single project would take its place,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have discussed this option with several interested parties and have presented a possible five-million-dollar community benefit fund for the town and village to use for any public use needed.”
Realtor R.J. Smith said the multi-building plan would be a very common corporate park structure.
“We have 40 to 80,000 square foot occupants,” Smith said. “ As Nick said, it would be varied in occupancy from manufacturing and distribution to other types of businesses. And smaller businesses. This plan has 300 docks.”
The single building, by contrast, would have 128 docks and 489 parking spaces.
There’s another big difference. Smith said construction of the single building would take 18 months and the tenant would likely be a Fortune 500 Company. Build-out of the office park complex could take 20, or even 30 years to complete.
“And with this plan, a single building plan, there’s less land use, greater open space, more green space, more landscape space, less traffic,” Smith said. “And the assumption was when we do a massive plan, it’s only for smaller buildings, that we necessarily get less traffic and less buildings.”
Mike Hembury, a village trustee, voiced his concerns for adding more ratables to the village and emphasized the area’s current water issues.
“You said we need greater ratables. At what cost? We’re a bedroom community, we’re doing pretty good. I’m not going to sell the soul of the village already.” Hembury said. “You build this, and you want water right away. Let’s say there’s no water in the ground, there’s no well down there. Now you’re tacking on another problem.”
Don Berger, a resident, asserted that annexing Aden Brook into the village would be a great idea, providing the municipality with another ratable and giving its trustees flexibility over implementing the annexation.
“I am in favor of this annexation. There’s a lot of good reasons why I believe this should go into the village. Ratables in the village are always brought up,” Berger said. “If you decide to annex it in, it’s going to give you the position that you’ve never had before. You guys would make those decisions, and those decisions will be very important. If it’s in the town, it’s just going to be worse than what we have here today.”
Daniel Byam, a fellow resident, thanked Hembury for his comments and raised similar issues regarding the village’s water supply.
“Mr. Hembury, I’m glad that you’re looking at the possible consequences and saying that you really gotta take everything into account. Because once it’s done, it’s over,” Byam said.“That much change on property so close to the village could affect, probably will affect, the water supply. So the village does really need to take a look at how it can change and what we can do to mitigate that.”
Katrina Tipton, a resident, asked if Aden Brook’s plans align with either municipality’s comprehensive plan. John Capello, attorney of J&G Law who represented the applicant, stated that the plans were consistent with zoning but would still need to undergo review processes.
“Is this conceptual plan in accordance with the town or the village comprehensive plan?” Tipton asked. “I know the village’s comprehensive plan calls for a high-density, mixed-use development in this area. And I don’t this is adequately described as a mixed use development.”
“The town was required to adopt zoning that’s consistent with the comprehensive plan. So when you adopt zoning immediately after the comprehensive plan, if it’s not consistent, then the town would have to change their zoning. “So this is consistent with the zoning,” Capello responded. “It would need to go through a lot of review determination in that considering the comprehensive plan.”
Tipton then asked about the project’s variances, to which Capello explained the project would require requests, not variances.
“How many variances are expected to be required for the building?” Tipton asked.
“It would be an amendment to change the zoning to permit that. It’s not permitted now, so it wouldn’t be a variance, it would be a request,” Capello said.
Tipton also argued that the town has better codes in place to handle larger projects, like Aden Brook’s proposed one million-square-foot building, compared to the village. Steve Brescia, the village mayor, said that the board will follow in the town’s footsteps.
“Which planning board, which code has the capacity to address a large-scale development in a way that would protect us as residents?” Tipton questioned. “That’s your job to figure out, it’s part of your informational process. But right now, I know for sure that the town has got better laws on the books than the village does for a large-scale building.”
“We can certainly try to mirror those, what’s been done in the town with Medline,” Brescia responded.
Al Baty, a resident, stated that the village should not annex Aden Brook due to infrastructure and water-related concerns. He also criticized the town board for its wastewater management.
“I’m not in favor of the village annexing this property. I have a real issue with infrastructure,” Baty said. “Mine relate to infrastructure for water and wastewater. I think the town has done a very poor job for their wastewater.”
“You’ve also done a band-aid by taking help from Maybrook to take some of your waterwaste issues away,” he continued. “You’re still going to have to upgrade that plant, you were suppose to do it in ‘10; ‘12 your permit was supposed to be finalized, it never was. You folks never upgraded,” he said.
While November 21’s meeting only featured an informational session, both the town and village board will hold public hearings regarding the annexation in the future. The dates for these hearings, and whether the town and village will hold them individually or together as a joint hearing, are still being determined.