UNFI eyes Montgomery facility

By RACHEL COLEMAN
Posted 11/18/20

“The facility expansion basically is for storage,” said Joe Montelione of United Natural Foods.

The Town of Montgomery Planning Board held a continuation of the public hearing for …

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UNFI eyes Montgomery facility

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“The facility expansion basically is for storage,” said Joe Montelione of United Natural Foods.

The Town of Montgomery Planning Board held a continuation of the public hearing for Phase II of the UNFI facility located on Neelytown Road during their regular meeting last week and representatives of UNFI told the board that the project is the planned expansion of the facility.

“If you had a really big barn and you wanted to store a bunch of toilet paper for COVID, let’s say, and you had a big truck to bring all that paper in and you brought one big one in instead of a bunch of little ones, you’d have less frequency—and that’s kind of what we’re doing here,” said Montelione.

He went on to explain that when their volume went up 30 percent during the pandemic, they saw a greater frequency in the trucks delivering at the facility because commodities were scarce and the trucks were carrying smaller loads.

“That’s the reason why we want to increase the capacity of the building so that we can store more there instead of bringing more trucks in on a more frequent basis,” said Montelione. “Once we get fully loaded into that building, there will be less truck traffic and the frequency is going to be less.”

Engineer John O’Rourke advised the board that the facility was also currently “100 trucks less a day than was originally planned.”

Initially however, there will be an increase of ten trucks per week for about six months until the expansion is filled completely. At that point the number of trucks should drop back to less than the current level.

The company’s plan is to store several levels of pallets on racks, as one might see in Home Depot, but on a larger scale. Much of the operation of that building will also be automated.

The expansion does not include any additional dock doors or activities closer to residences than currently occurring and includes some screening.

“A lot of what we’ve been discussing is the noise,” said Planning Board Chairman Fred Reichle. The board has received noise complaints from residents ranging from operations to idling vehicles and loud music.

Dominic Cordisco, an attorney representing UNFI, stated that they are “sensitive to the fact that there are complaints” and he didn’t want to “downplay or disagree” with them. He acknowledged there were some things occurring operationally that have been or will be addressed, such as the running of refrigerated trucks near residences.

O’Rourke stated that with the expansion, the relocation of trucks and absence of outside speakers, he believed that the expansion “should actually reduce noise levels.”

Planning board member Cheri Zahakos suggested signage stating trucks are prohibited from parking in the areas near residences and Cordisco said it was a good idea to have a reminder on site.

The applicants are also finishing a noise study that they will be submitting to the board along with their revisions and responses to comments from the planning board’s consultants. All of those items are to be submitted to the planning board by Nov. 17 for review.

The public hearing was adjourned to Nov. 30 at 7:40 p.m.

The planning board also heard a presentation for Mirabito Holdings, which proposes a propane storage facility on approximately 2.38 acres on Beaver Dam Road. While the site is wooded with no neighboring residences, it is bordered by Interstate 84 to the north.

The unmanned facility would include a large propane storage tank where local trucks would come in to load up and then go out to make home deliveries. It would also see occasional large trucks coming in to fill the tank. There would be a gravel driveway. There would be no other storage, no office, no bathroom and no water.

Planning board member Jay Beaumont expressed concern about sight distance, saying that he would like to see the access to the facility revised so that the entrance to the north was one way in and trucks would not be coming out of there. He also noted that there were wetlands, but the applicant’s engineer stated he had them delineated and there was “not going to be an issue.”

A continuation of the public hearing for Zachary Pond was extended to the planning board’s next meeting on Nov. 30, at the request of the applicant.

The applicant is seeking a determination from the building department and code enforcement officer regarding their revised plan for a two-lot subdivision on Browns Road.

“They haven’t committed to going to the ZBA at this time,” said Reichle.

In other business, the board held a continuation of the public hearing on Russin Factory, located on Bracken Road. The applicant is to address comments from the board’s consultants and return before the board, however the public hearing was closed.

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