The Montgomery town board made no decision at their regarding regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 5 on the proposed zone change for Project Sailfish after Montgomery residents urged the board not to approve the change.
Located near Interstate-84 (I-84) and the intersections of NYS Route 17K and 747, the $75 million project will turn 188 acres of vacant land into an approximately 1-million-square-foot warehouse with more than 1,000 car parking spaces and 225 truck trailer spaces.
Project Sailfish requires a zoning map amendment to rezone 77 acres from an IB Interchange Business Zoning District to the I-2 Industrial Park-Major Access Zoning District. Project Attorney David Everett said the land that is proposed for a zone change is set back from the roads, leaving a strip of IB land along 17K and 747.
The town board kept the public hearing open in order to collect more input.
Everett said the zone change is consistent with the town’s 1988 master plan and the 2010 update to the master plan. The 1988 plan zoned the area industrial for its access to state highways, including NYS Route 17K, NYS Route 747 and Interstate-84.
Everett said the project has undergone a detailed and comprehensive review by interested and involved agencies, the public, and town and project planners, consultants and experts. Those comments were taken into consideration to make the project better.
“This town has conducted a very comprehensive and detailed, I would say massive, environmental review of this project,” Everett said. “The review has been going on for a year and half. The DEIS [Draft Environmental Impact Statement] and the FEIS [Final Environmental Impact Statement] have over 8,000 pages of studies that the town has asked the applicant to do on a whole variety of topics. The town has held over 20 public hearings on this project and we’ve gotten some really great comments from the public as well as the interested and involved agencies and those comments have resulted in a variety of changes to the project to make it better for the town.”
There are about a dozen key studies included in the FEIS and DEIS, Everett said, and 85 pages of site plans. The planning board’s engineer has issued a dozen comment letters and more than 400 comments.
“We would request at this point that the public hearing be closed, and the town move to the next stage of the project,” Everett said.
Many residents urged the board to turn down the zone change the project needs to move forward.
Town resident and town council candidate Joe Keenan said the town should not approve the zone change so as not to encourage future spot zoning that will affect residents with ill-fitting projects.
“I’m not going to say I’m for or against the project. I’m against changing the zoning,” Joe Keenan said. “I think you need to stop.”
Neighboring property owner Barbara Lerner said she is submitting a protest petition under local law section 265, which is will force a supermajority of the town board to approve the zone change rather than a simple majority.
Lerner said the 1988 master plan is outdated and was written when million-square-foot-plus warehouses did not exist as a concept. The master plan is too outdated to protect town residents, she said.
“Sailfish and Medline are of a size that was never contemplated when the existing code was written and accepted and are in an area where no other warehouses exist. This onslaught has the potential to permanently and negatively impact the town, existing businesses, and residents. Our current zoning is inadequate to address this,” Lerner said. “In fact, there is no definition in the current code for warehouses of a size even close to this.”
Several residents called for a moratorium on commercial development while the town develops a new comprehensive plan and reviews its zoning.
Town Supervisor Rodney Winchell said he is ideologically opposed to a moratorium.
“I am 100 percent not in favor of a moratorium,” Winchell said.