Duanesburg residents are concerned a compressed natural gas distribution facility being proposed for a vacant site on Route 7 will be noisy, unsafe, harmful to the environment and, in general, disrupt the quality of life in a quiet area of town.
The project was first proposed last year by Vermont company NG Advantage, which delivers natural gas to commercial customers not yet served by a pipeline. The project was tabled until several months ago, when Clean Energy, a California-based provider of natural gas fuel, joined the project and submitted a revised application to the town.
The two companies want to build a processing and filling station at 14578 Duanesburg Road that would draw natural gas from the existing Iroquois Pipeline, compress it and then directly fill NG Advantage delivery vehicles. This method eliminates the need for on-site storage tanks, instead allowing gas to be loaded directly into tractor-trailers, which then deliver it to large customers around the Northeast.
The 54-acre site includes nothing but grass fields, heavy brush, trees and some wetlands. Fueling stations, a compressing station, a modular office building and parking would be built on 7.6 acres. The remaining acreage would be left alone.
Duanesburg residents packed Town Hall for a public hearing on the project Tuesday. The volume of questions and concerns over the project prompted company and town officials to continue the hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16. Town Planner Dale Warner said they are trying to get the meeting held at the Duanesburg Fire Department on Quaker Street to accommodate more people.
“Our meeting room can only hold 50, and the other night, we were at our maximum,” he said.
A Facebook group, Stop the Duanesburg Gas Plant!, launched the next day and had 18 members by Friday. The group says its mission is to save the town from a plant that “threatens our air, water, soil, roads, forests, wildlife, starry nights, peace and quiet, property values, community and SAFETY.”
It calls on the town Zoning Board of Appeals to deny the companies’ request for a use variance, which is required since the project would be located within the town’s agricultural and residential zoning district.
“There are definitely concerns,” Warner said. “The town is listening and taking a look at all the information we’ve been provided before we make a decision.”
The Facebook group is organizing a community meeting Tuesday at the Duanesburg Community Center.
Richard Murray, who owns the 500-acre Oak Hill Farms Cross Country Ski Center to the north of the proposed facility, said his concerns primarily revolve around noise. The facility’s compressing station will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It will service about two trucks per hour, or 45 vehicles a day.
“The concerns I have are that 400-horsepower compressors are going to sound like one or more train locomotives running, not at an idle, but at a substantial level,” he said. “That’s the biggest issue I have. We live out here for the peace and quiet. And with my ski area, people aren’t going to want to go skiing through the woods to listen to a train right nearby.”
The proposed facility would be located in the middle of the 54-acre site to reduce any noise, visual or other impacts on adjoining property owners, according to a project application submitted to the town. Company officials could not be reached Friday.
Equipment would maintain operating levels below 85 decibels, the equivalent of a chainsaw heard from 11 yards away, according to the application. Sounds above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing damage.
An environmental assessment is underway. If a use variance is granted, the facility would still require site plan review and approval from the town Planning Board, Warner said.
Interested parties should check www.duanesburg.net for information on the second public hearing, including the possible change in venue.