Montgomery residents expressed numerous concerns over impacts to their quality of life in a tense meeting with the Montgomery village board and Medline Industries, Inc. representatives on June 6.
Located on the east side of NYS Route 416 and north of Interstate I-84, the 1.3-million-square-foot warehouse is proposed in the Town of Montgomery, just outside Village of Montgomery limits. The building will replace the outgrown facility 500,000-square-foot facility in Wawayanda, which employs 320 workers, according to Town of Montgomery planning board documents. The project is currently before the Town of Montgomery planning board.
Numerous village residents stated the project would ruin their quality of life, bringing traffic, noise, pollution, and visual impacts.
“This is not going to benefit us,” village resident Amy Jones said.
Chief among residents’ concerns was an increase in employee and truck traffic through the village, which already experiences trucks and congestion at peak traffic times on narrow intersections.
Dmitry Dukhan, Vice President of Real Estate for Medline, said Medline will not send its trucks through the village, instead routing them through Neelytown Road onto I-84. Traveling through the village makes little logistical sense.
“We do not want to go through the village,” Dukhan said. “No truck driver in this world wants to go through this village.”
When the possibility of a fine being imposed on Medline for every truck that travels through the village was suggested, both Village of Montgomery Mayor Stephen Brescia and Dukhan said they could negotiate an agreement with each other.
Between 80 and 90 percent of Medline’s trucking will be completed by its own drivers, with FedEx and third-party companies making up the rest. This gives the company more control over the direction of its drivers, Dukhan said. Approximately 90 percent of truck traffic will be 53-foot trailers.
Dukhan said when completed, the project will generate between 200 and 250 truck trips per day. The Environmental Assessment Form for Medline states the project will generate approximately 360 truck trips per day.
However, Dukhan said Medline could not restrict employee traffic. Medline plans to brings its workers in Wawayanda to the facility and hire between 300 and 400 more for a total of 700 workers, reaching full capacity in four to 10 years.
Developers plan to install two traffic lights at or near the project, Dukhan said.
However, some residents remained skeptical that Medline would keep its promises.
“This is not a good fit for the village,” village resident Anita Falcone said. “There can be no guarantee that the trucks and all this traffic is not going to come through the village. The village will be done.”
Residents also expressed concern about the tax breaks Medline has applied for and has already received in Wawayanda.
“Your company is a wealthy, wealthy company and I just can’t reconcile this as a resident and as a taxpayer. It’s hard to understand that this is the second go-around that you’re asking for tax abatements. As a resident I’m thinking big money, big business can buy almost anything, but it’s almost like buying charity and that really angers me,” village resident Nina Snyder said. “I just feel like it’s wrong.”
Medline negotiated a Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) with the Orange County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) for its facilities in Wawayanda in 2008. The final year of the county and town tax PILOT is 2019 and the final year of the school PILOT is the 2018-19 school year.
Medline requested approximately $17.6 million from the Town of Montgomery Industrial Agency (IDA) for real property tax exemptions and $8 million in exemptions for New York State sales tax. If the IDA approves the exemptions, they will not be granted until after the project is approved.
The facility will eventually generate approximately $2.5 million in yearly property tax, according to the application for assistance with the Montgomery IDA. However, the facility will not pay full property taxes until year 14 of the 15-year PILOT agreement. The first year, Medline will pay zero property taxes to the town and the second year they will pay an estimated $755,000.
Residents were concerned about light pollution and noise and visual impacts.
Dukhan said the facility will be sunk about 15 feet into the ground to minimize light, visual and noise impacts. The noise pollution will be minimal, with the facility generating about 1 percent of ambient noise from I-84 and existing facilities.
Residents were also concerned about the quality of jobs to be created, stating the wage that Medline pays is not enough to live on.
The estimated average annual salaries of jobs to be created is $37,000, with a salary range of between $33,000 and $69,000, according to the Medline’s application for assistance with the Montgomery IDA.
“Nobody can live in the Village of Montgomery or the Town of Montgomery on $33,000 a year,” village resident Don Berger said.
Dukhan said the company’s benefits, which include bonuses, health insurance, 401Ks and college tuition reimbursement, are one of several reasons Medline is a good company to work for.
“The reason we’re the best health care company to work in the United States is because we treat people right and we take pride in what we do and how we do it,” Dukhan said.
While residents may disagree, Dukhan said the project will be a benefit to the community, providing jobs, ratables and new visitors who will frequent the village’s businesses.
“We want to absolutely be good neighbors,” Dukhan said. “We want our employees to go to restaurants and barbershops and go to the school and live in this community. We want to do the right thing.”
The continuation of the public hearing with the Town of Montgomery planning board will be at 7:30 p.m. on June 24 at town hall, 110 Bracken Road.