Schodack, NY. Citizens Take Legal Action to Block Huge Amazon Warehouse
When is a warehouse not a warehouse?
That is the surreal question facing residents in small upstate New York town near Albany. Residents in the town of Schodack, New York (pop. 13,221) are fighting to block a 1,000,000 s.f. Amazon warehouse, which is the size of 17 football fields, and about the size of 9 Walmart superstores--- not counting the parking lot.
A citizen’s group called The Birchwood Association is trying to force the town of Schodack to declare that the developer, Scanell Properties, has to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)“to ensure the protection of all residents specifically regarding Public Safety, Traffic and the Aquifer/Water Wells (OUR Drinking Water).”
“The town has failed to listen to the public and community,” the residents say on their website, saveschodack.com. “They failed to require an EIS that would clearly and objectively outline concerns and mitigate all factors. Not only are there no reports which study the long-term impacts on the protected aquifer and traffic issues with major public safety concerns. These questions still remain.”
But a fundamental flaw in the proposal is that the town and the developer are pretending that the warehouse is not a warehouse. That’s because “warehouse” is not a permitted use in the Planned Development 3 zone in Schodack.
In a PD 3 zone you can create Office and professional parks, Civic centers, Corporate centers, Personal wireless telecommunications service structures, Cafeteria Membership clubs, lodges and churches, Hotel and motels, Health and medical facilities Restaurants, Theaters, Health and medical facilities, Retail stores, Shopping centers, and sales distribution centers---but you can’t build a warehouse in a PD-3 zone. The developer and the town are thus calling the Amazon building a “sales distribution center,” even though there will be no point of sales at the site. Amazon makes its sales on the internet, not in Schodack. The town is attempting to make the zone fit the proposal, not the proposal fit the zone. It’s a form of designer zoning based on the developer’s needs.
“Concerned residents have tried to work with the Town and Scannell to properly address all the impacts associated with a project of this magnitude,” Birchwood says, “but the project was pushed through without a ‘hard look’ at all the factors and time for residents to resolve concerns. The stakes are high, drinking water is a finite supply and no Schodack resident should ever question what is coming out of their faucet. We sought to mitigate but they declined, and we had no other recourse but to file an Article 78. The project was never once presented comprehensively to the public with all modifications and documentation completed.”
The residents say “the Route 9 Corridor is unique in that it offers smart economic development for the projects to come, but as a community we must be protective of what the aquifer land already offers our homes.”
Residential homes abut the project on at least two sides. The homeowners are trying to get an order “requiring the planning board to follow New York law…and require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement.”
A similar Amazon distribution center now under review in Nampa, Idaho was submitted as a “warehouse.” Amazon prefers to use the euphemism “fulfillment center,” because “warehouse” connotes trucks and loading docks and uses undesirable adjacent to residential properties. There are very few potential homeowners who seek out homes next to a warehouse of any description---much less an extremely large one. This project will hurt the residential value of surrounding homes.
What you can do: One of the purposes of the 1986 zoning law as adopted in Schodack was “The provision of privacy for families and the maximum protection of residential areas.” Another purpose is “The protection of the natural resources of the community, including but not limited to the protection of the water resources of the town."
But an Amazon “warehouse” of this extraordinary scale is simply incompatible with the abutting residential areas, and has no right to be located in a zone than bans warehouses.
Opponents of this inappropriate “warehouse” project are urged to call 518-477-7938 and leave this message for Planning Board Chairwoman Denise Maier:
“I am calling to urge the Planning Board to require a full Environmental Impact Statement on the Scannell (Amazon) Warehouse, which is, after all, a very big warehouse in the middle of residential homes. Its time for the Planning Board to protect the homeowners of this town! No warehouses outside of the PD 1 zone. Thank you!”