Princetown’s Planning Board Thursday heard from Rotterdam residents disenchanted with their town’s approval of the McLane Foodservice Inc. distribution center proposed for Feuz Road.
More than three dozen people turned out to a public hearing on the project, a 168,000-square-foot distribution center, a large parking lot and 12,800-square-foot truck repair building on the Princetown and Rotterdam border near the Interstate 88 exit.
While the project has passed in Rotterdam, the developers still need site plan, special use permit and subdivision approval from Princetown, where the truck repair building is proposed.
Following more than two hours of comments, Princetown’s Planning Board tabled the project until concerns raised during the hearing could be answered by the developer. Chairwoman Patricia Bishop said the board is trying to scrutinize the project because of the area concerns.
“We’re trying to do a very thorough review of this project because it’s a big deal around here,” she said following the hearing.
McLane distributes mainly to fast food companies such as Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Long John Silver’s. The company now employs about 135 workers at its Guilderland plant and could add up to 40 more jobs if it builds the Rotterdam center, according to company representatives.
Engineers representing the company pitched a short description of the project before Bishop opened the floor for public comment. The meeting was also attended by a regional director from the state Department of Transportation.
Many of those in attending the meeting were homeowners in Rotterdam’s Country Walk Estates and Eldorado Acres, the two residential developments surrounding the proposed 27-acre development. Residents raised issues from how the 24-hour all-week truck traffic would affect their quality of life to whether the Rotterdam-supplied water connection would have enough pressure for fire safety.
“With this size of a warehouse, you have a heavy fire load,” warned Marvin Blessing, a volunteer of the Pine Grove Fire Department.
Residents also expressed concern over the traffic volume the operation might cause for an area already busy with tractor-trailer rigs. The I-88 exit is a link with the Thruway and Route 7.
Lori Bergami of Becker Drive said she observed four bad accidents near where the entrance to the center will be off Route 7.
Phil Contompasis of Country Walk Road in Rotterdam said he recently purchased his home, not realizing that a major trucking site could be built down the street. He said the portion of the center in Princetown could have a chilling effect on residential development there.
“Basically, we’re going to be living in a hub of trucks,” he said. “If I had known six weeks ago this was an issue, I would have never bought here.”
Likewise, Country Walk resident Marianna Lawler said the project would detract from the quality of life in her neighborhood. She thanked the Princetown planners, saying they scrutinized the development better than Rotterdam did.
“The town of Rotterdam cares little about the quality of life of its residents,” she said.
But Paul Hasbrouk, one of the few Princetown residents to speak, advised members of the planning board to view the project strictly from their own perspective. He said the town had provided for such development in the location where McLane’s is proposed.
“Our town has to look at the laws that pertain to us here in Princetown,” he said.
Board member Rose Norkus said the concerns raised by residents in Rotterdam seemed valid and are worth addressing before the project is approved.
“I don’t live anywhere near it, but listening to some of these descriptions scares me to death,” she said.