“The main change that we made was the removal of the entrance to Route 17K,” said engineer Larry Marshall.
Marshall’s update on the proposed warehouse complex at the intersection of Route 17K and Bracken Road was welcome news to the residents crowded into the Montgomery Planning Board meeting last week.
The project, referred to as 915 Route 17K, LLC, originally called for a 74,050-square-foot warehouse, a 59,640-square-foot warehouse and a 1,000-square-foot office building, with two accesses onto Bracken Road and one onto Route 17K. The troubled intersection has been a concern for local residents from day one, due to the expected surge in traffic and its history of motor vehicle accidents.
Lake Vue Road resident Cory Zahakos said that while he definitely appreciated the change, there are many questions and concerns that are not being answered or addressed. Those concerns ranged from the proposed wells and their effect on neighboring water supplies, to questions over who will own and run the property.
A major issue for Zahakos was the proposed hours of operation for the complex.
“All of a sudden in July, it changed to be a 24/7, 365-day operation,” said Zahakos. “I didn’t like the hours to begin with and I hate them even more now.”
Zahakos was also concerned that the unknown future user will dictate the operating hours regardless of the town’s input.
“If they don’t agree to whatever hours and conditions you set, they should be told to move on and find somebody else who will operate to what you want,” said Zahakos. “You’re all that I have to support me and protect me. They’ve got lawyers, real estate agents, and they’ve got the money. I don’t. I’m counting on you guys to do the right thing.”
Adjoining property owner Sue Reichardt said she was very concerned about their water supply and became emotional as she explained that she had grown up with the property owners. While she wanted to support them, the reality was that she was facing industry in her backyard, running 24/7 with the accompanying lighting, noise and traffic.
“It’s just a sad moment for us in the community,” said Reichardt. “I wish I could support it, but I can’t.”
Reichardt also pointed out that warehouses are not exactly a tourist destination or the best first impression for someone looking for a quaint community to spend their weekend.
“It just changes the fabric of our entire community and it’s one of the saddest moments I can remember of my life,” said Reichardt.
Town resident Cheri Zahakos told the board that the town is seeing a “redundancy in warehouse use” that is like “putting all our eggs in one basket.”
Planning Board Chairman Fred Reichle stated that the consultants had not completed their comments on the applicant’s recent submission and the public hearing would be continued to Oct. 15, to follow the public hearing on Medline.
“I really feel for these people, that they had to spend their whole summer doing this. Coming to these meetings with a pain in their stomach because of dereliction of duty. This should never have been allowed to happen,” Susan Cockburn told Planning Board members. “You guys should have asked for new tools a long time ago. If the board was asleep, you could have been awake.”
The trend of warehouses continued with a presentation by Red Birch, Inc. for two new warehouses on the north side of Route 17K, near Harmony Lane. The Planning Board previously approved their plan for a self-storage facility on the site, however engineer Larry Marshall stated that the applicant has been having trouble marketing the site.
Their hope is to swap out their original designs for the third lot with two 35,000 square foot warehouses with no more than two loading docks. The rest of the original project—including two climate controlled self-storage buildings—would remain in a smaller scale.
Marshall assured the board that the warehouses would not be a distribution facility with a lot of traffic, but a location where businesses would store goods that would arrive perhaps twice a week by tractor trailers and leave the facility with a trip or two a day from UPS.
The board made a motion to declare lead agency as to SEQRA.
The public hearing on the Felizzi project on Ridge Road, was continued to Oct. 28 after it was pointed out that they cannot move forward until the applicant meets with the local fire department.
Meanwhile, the board continued the public hearing for a proposed battery energy storage facility at the intersection of Route 17K and Browns Road. The applicants advised that they decided to install noise reduction kits, updated their landscaping plan, provided a rendering of the building and are working to meet with the local fire department.
Residents expressed safety concerns after the applicants stated that they would be using lithium ion batteries. They noted that the batteries are “highly explosive” and would endanger the public being situated alongside Route 17K.
Attorneys and engineers for the applicant stated that there is an “inherent fire risk” with the lithium batteries, but the facility would be equipped with a fire suppression system and monitored 24 hours a day, every day with a computer system and remote operator that would be able to shut down a portion or the entire operation.
Other members of the public spoke of the project’s impact on the Tin Brook and pointed out that there are several large projects currently before the Montgomery Planning Board that are proposed either on the banks of the waterway, or within its wetlands and buffer, including the battery storage facility and Project Sailfish. They urged the board to keep in mind and review the cumulative effects of these projects, not just the anticipated impact of the individual projects.
The public hearing was continued to Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
The busy evening before the Montgomery Planning Board last week also included a public hearing for ASAP Scrap Recycling, which intends to build a facility on Route 208 to recycle motor vehicles.
Residents were upset over the project’s possible environmental and noise pollution, but the applicants assured them that they will not be shredding, they are not accepting manganese, and the vehicles will be drained of all fluids before being crushed in a covered steel box.
While the consultants are preparing additional comments, the board voted to close the public hearing and will begin work on a negative declaration for SEQRA. The project will return to the board’s agenda when that document is ready.