Suit aims to block Amazon warehouse

By Connor Linskey
Posted 1/15/20

Barbara Lerner, a property owner in the Town of Montgomery, is attempting to stop plans for an Amazon warehouse along Route 747 by suing the developer, the Town of Montgomery and the town’s …

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Suit aims to block Amazon warehouse

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Barbara Lerner, a property owner in the Town of Montgomery, is attempting to stop plans for an Amazon warehouse along Route 747 by suing the developer, the Town of Montgomery and the town’s planning board. She claims that part of the warehouse property is improperly zoned.

Lerner Pavlick Realty contends that the Town of Montgomery’s most recently adopted zoning map incorrectly identifies 85 acres of the planned Amazon site along Route 747, as being zoned for a large warehouse. The incorrect zoning classification is for an industrial park district.

A town law adopted in 2010 identifies the 85 acres as part of an interchange business district. According to town zoning codes, such districts are limited to restaurants, service businesses, offices and hotels, among other uses.

The town code states that interchange business districts do not permit warehouses of three or more truck docks or bays and warehouses with two or fewer docks require a special use permit. According to the suit, three of the four parcels on Amazon’s site are zoned as an industrial park district. In recent months, the town planning board granted the project’s developer, Bluewater Industrial Partners, a special exception use permit and site plan approval to build a one-million-plus-square-foot-warehouse on those parcels.

Joseph Castiglione, Lerner Pavlick Realty attorney, noted that any town law change to correctly zone the fourth parcel to accommodate the warehouse would require a new environmental review. That process could delay or prevent the entire project.

Lerner added that the Route 747 corridor has greater potential for development than just warehouses. She noted that Neelytown Road already has a warehouse corridor. Lerner wants the town to diversify its types of businesses. In addition, Lerner is worried about the traffic an Amazon warehouse would generate. She contends that an Amazon warehouse would cause runoff issues on her property, located behind Johnny’s Pizzeria along Route 747. The 24/7 nature of an active warehouse is also a concern. She further expressed her concerns at the Montgomery Town Board meeting on Jan. 2.

“The need for a moratorium and a comprehensive plan right now are more critical than ever,” she said.

The Town Board was scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss the possibility of enacting a moratorium.

Lerner criticized the town’s comprehensive plan, whose basis was in 1998. She claimed that it has been updated slightly, but not enough to account for the types of projects coming before the boards. Lerner added that there are about 13 major warehouses that are before the various town boards at the moment. Studies for traffic impacts as well as the cumulative impact of the projects have not been done. She told the town board to update the comprehensive plan as well as its zoning. Lerner noted that a moratorium can still be declared since none of the warehouse projects have begun.

“There’s no reason not to press pause for fear of a lawsuit, not a single one of these other projects has begun,” she said.

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