“I’m sure there will be a lot of interested people and comments,” said Montgomery Planning Board Chairman Fred Reichle.
The planning board reaffirmed its lead agency status during their meeting last Monday for the warehouse project known as Neelytown Business Park. They also adopted a positive declaration as to SEQRA, which means that the project will have to go through the full environmental impact statement phases—including a public scoping session on Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Presently, the proposal is for two warehouses on about 88 acres at Neelytown Road and Beaver Dam Road, adjacent to FedEx, UNFI and residential homes. The first warehouse would be 214,000 square feet and the second would be 692,000 square feet. There is no end user identified by the applicant.
A draft scope was circulated over the last couple of weeks, gathering comments from the applicant, planning board and their consultants. The draft scope is essentially a list of the town’s environmental concerns that need to be addressed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
Chairman Reichle said the 31-page scoping document will be available online and hardcopy will be available at the town’s planning board office. The next step will be the scoping meeting on Oct. 12 to receive any public comment.
Town resident Karina Tipton took the opportunity to comment on the project during the meeting on Monday, saying that the plan “proposed here was totally different than the site plan that was approved by the town board for the warehouse waiver.”
“It speaks to the applicant’s lack of sincerity when they approach the town with new developments,” said Tipton. “And I don’t appreciate the fact that they presented something to the public and to the town board and then they presented the planning board with an entirely different application that had an extremely different and more significant impact to the neighborhood around it.”
Tipton explained after the meeting that the plan the applicant presented to the town board for the waiver only showed one lot with two buildings. Now that they have obtained the warehouse moratorium waiver, the plan they’ve given to the planning board has two lots, a new parking lot with 300 spaces for truck parking on Beaver Dam Road, and the access for all of the employees of both warehouses (about 200 vehicles) is now on Beaver Dam Road. According to the plan given to the town board, that entrance was only supposed to be an emergency truck exit.
“I was very disappointed to see that and I found it disrespectful to our town of Montgomery public process,” said Tipton, adding that she found it “worth discussing with the town board and their attorney.”
Tipton plans to submit a formal request to the town board to reopen the public hearing for the waiver or require the applicant to resubmit their site plan and start the process again from square one.
In the meantime, both Tipton and the Town of Montgomery Planning Board are urging the public to attend the scoping meeting on Oct. 12 to submit their questions and comments on issues like the project’s impact on traffic, scenic areas, noise and stormwater. Notifications for the meeting will only be sent to residences within 500 feet of the project.
The planning board will also accept written or emailed comments from the public until Oct. 20.
Warehouse properties are currently a source of ongoing concern and complaints for town residents, including UNFI on Neelytown Road. During the meeting on Monday, a resident advised the planning board that despite all of the promises made and efforts of police, for three nights the prior week, about a dozen trucks were illegally lined up along the road, locking it up in both directions.
“It’s a problem that is going to just continue as long as warehouses keep being put into the area,” said the resident, Thomas Weber. “If you live on the other side of Walden or something like that, those things don’t bother you. But when you live right next to it, it’s a constant threat to your way of life.”