Environmental Concerns Raised About Proposed Long Road Facility

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Sat, Oct 9, 2021 7:00 AM

By Alice E. Gérard

Islanders described their concerns about negative environmental impacts such as increased traffic, noise and drainage that could result from the construction and operation of the proposed distribution facility by Grand Island Commerce Center Inc. at 2780 Long Road in person and via Zoom in a public hearing held as part of Monday’s city council meeting.

“The sole purpose of this hearing is to receive comments from the public on the potentially important environmental, economic and social impacts to be assessed in the additional environmental impact study,” explained city supervisor John Whitney.

Speakers at the public hearing were invited to comment directly on the guidance document for the proposed facility. A public hearing on the supplemental environmental impact statement, which has not yet been produced, will take place at a later date, Whitney said.

The purpose of a scoping document is to identify the potential environmental impacts of a project. This is a process that should be part of a full environmental impact assessment and is optional for a further EIA.

“Scoping is the process by which the issues to be addressed in the supplemental EIA are identified,” Whitney said.

He explained that the full EIS was completed in 1991, when the original site plan was proposed on 208 acres of land, with over 3,700 feet of frontage, and with 144 acres in commercial area and approximately 64 acres. in residential area.

According to the introductory section of the current draft of the scoping document, “the final environmental impact study of the 1991 project determined the significant potential environmental impacts concerning traffic, air quality, surface, groundwater, drainage, wildlife, noise and sewer infrastructure, ”says Whitney.

A second project was proposed in 2012, but the developer took no action. Another development project was submitted in November 2020, and on June 21, 2021, based on the State Environmental Quality Review Act, city council determined that the proposed project could have a negative environmental impact. The members of the Office issued a positive declaration, specifying that the applicant had to produce an additional draft environmental impact study.

The promoter’s representative, Corey Auerbach, of Barclay Damon LLP, briefly recalled the history of the development project: “As you know, this project was initially presented in 1991. Changes have been made to the project. It was presented again in 2012.

“There are no environmental impacts resulting from changes that had not previously been assessed by this council. Nonetheless, the applicant undertakes to provide you with information associated with any unforeseen or unexamined environmental impact that may result from these changes; and, again, the scoping document is for you to review, and we look forward to your finalizing it so that we can begin the process of providing you with an additional environmental impact assessment.

Speakers at the public hearing expressed differing views.

Sandra Nelson explained, “Everything you do is going to have a direct impact on me. This project is located 200 feet from the back of my property, said and done. I am very concerned about the water retention pond you are talking about. Our backyard has never had as much water as it has in the past five years.

Katherine Hastings said: “Some communities have had to keep their children indoors for health reasons. Don’t make the same mistake. The quality of life on Grand Island must be taken into account when considering not only the increase in traffic, but also the light pollution. From what I understand, the developer has stated that he is unwilling to use special lighting to reduce significant negative impacts not only on the surrounding residential neighborhood, but also on birds migrating through an area. designated RAMSAR. We are trying to bring ecotourism to the island including bird watching. It seems to be working. Let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot.

Roseanne Serra said, “I am going to state some things that bother me as a nurse practitioner. Toxic fumes from constantly idling transport trucks. We all know this warehouse is going to have lots and lots of them. Light pollution from a tenant who claims to do nothing about it. The noise pollution that someone has already mentioned. All of these things impact what is most precious to us: our physical and mental health. “

Catherine Rayhill said: “I strongly believe that the developer and the city council need to reconcile these descriptions, allowing a single massive warehouse with its high volume of truck and car traffic. It is clearly a polluting company.

Michael Rayhill questioned the ability of Grand Island’s infrastructure to handle the increased use of a large warehouse: “I encourage you to thoroughly explore the full range of potential effects that this warehouse will have on our aging infrastructure. A warehouse with an area of ​​over a million square feet would be in the category of the largest warehouse in the country. “

Speakers also mentioned the potential damage to the natural environment.

“I just wanted to highlight this RAMSAR zone, it is an important wetland at the international level. We have arctic terns that fly 6,000 miles from the southern tip of South America to get here to Buckhorn and Beaver Island, ”said Anita Wierzba. “This project will be in my garden. All of these animals and vegetation that could be important to these animals. The animals are going to be in our backyards.

Nicole Gerber said, “I am asking the board of directors to review Grand Island’s green spaces now to prevent habitat degradation. She described the challenges presented to the city as “a continued loss of green space due to changing weather and weather conditions affecting tree and vegetation growth, increased loss of biodiversity, due to factors such as chemical applications. All of these will play a role in what Grand Island looks like in five years, 10 years and beyond. “

Mike Rayhill addressed potential air pollution: “It is obvious that a warehouse of this size will have an impact on the surrounding air quality during its ongoing operation. “

Catherine Rayhill expressed concern about the city’s ability to respond to an emergency at a large facility.

“What if a massive fire engulfs this facility and there are a large number of injured and casualties? What new equipment would our local firefighters need to adequately protect surrounding residential communities? ” she asked.

Whitney said: “The city will continue to accept written comments until the close of business on Monday, October 11. The city has already received a significant amount of information on this project, both from previous reviews and from the current demand. “

He noted that documents on the project are available on the city’s website. The draft scoping project can be viewed at http://www.grand-island.ny.us/departments/engineering_department/current_projects_2020/index.php#revize_document_center_rz2182.

City Council is holding a workshop meeting at 1 p.m. on Friday, October 15 to review the scope project for 2780 Long Road.


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