Neighbors question proposed equipment storage area in Town of Hamburg
What began as a discussion about a newly proposed equipment storage area on Old Milestrip Road, quickly turned into a forum for residents’ concerns about truck traffic, the health and safety of neighborhood children, and high amounts of dirt and soot on homes in that area.
Wednesday’s (Aug. 15) Town of Hamburg Planning Board meeting brought out residents living on Lake Avenue, Milestrip and Old Milestrip roads. A public hearing was held on Russo Development’s request for site approval of a proposed new equipment storage area at 3710 Old Milestrip Road.
The owners of Russo Development say they need a lot to park five large construction vehicles off of Lake Avenue and that they do not want to use the current employee or customer lot because of concerns about damage that the current lot would be exposed to by heavy building equipment. An option that was discussed at previous meetings is an entrance/exit onto Coder Road , which was established by the town for industrial equipment and tractor trailer traffic. Russo Development and the project’s architects say that Coder Road is not an option for this project because there is a strip of privately owned property in the way of a would-be curb cut to Coder.
Neighbors living on and around Old Milestrip Road and Lake Avenue voiced their concerns on the project. Beth Caligiuri is a mother who is concerned about the increase of truck traffic that the Russo project would bring to her street. “We have children on this road. People have to walk on the street because there are no sidewalks. If we’re going to allow this, what else are we going to allow?” she asked.
Elizabeth Reszka (whose husband Peter is the chair of the planning board) read a five-page letter at the public hearing, citing several concerns, including two separate recent health studies: the World Health Organization’s cancer panel’s classification on diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic or cancer-causing to people, and another on the connection of soot from diesel trucks to asthma in elementary school children. Reszka said while she understands the need for expansion in the Town of Hamburg, She believes “expansion at the expense of its residents is not a good thing.”
Peter Tarasow said between 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. he has seen as many as 1,000 tractor trailer trucks go down Lake Avenue. With those trucks come possible debris, dirt, and soot.
“It’s just like a coal mine,” he said. Neighbors say they are constantly cleaning off their windows from all the soot kicked up from the industrial traffic that comes down their street. Matteo Caligiuri is among those residents who say that the entrance and exit to this new proposed equipment storage area belongs on Coder Road.
“If Mr. Russo wants to put a road in, it should go where truck traffic goes,” Caligiuri said.
The planning board agreed to allow Russo Development and its developers to address the concerns of neighbors and the topic was tabled until the next meeting on Sept. 5. They also requested that a traffic study be performed on Lake Avenue.
Another hot button issue at Wednesday’s Planning Board meeting was the Boston State Holding Company’s request for rezoning of vacant land on the south side of Howard Road. The developers want to build 11 townhouse buildings – luxury rental units – and are requesting a rezoning from R2-R3. The plans also call for a 50 foot wide conservation area and a mandatory deed restriction to prohibit any development in that area.
The property in question on Howard Road is adjacent to a residential subdivision, and over a dozen people came out to the meeting concerned about the project’s possible negative impact on their neighborhood.
Doug Klein lives in the Heatherwood subdivision. His concerns include adding rental properties to an already saturated area, adding more traffic to the intersection of Howard and Camp roads — which is already a very congested area, the potential for reduced property values by as much as 15 percent and environmental and animal concerns that the project would cause. John Percy lives on Heatherwood Drive and said this project just does not fit with his neighborhood.
“It’s like squeezing a square peg into a round hole,” Percy said.
Others who spoke questioned the need for luxury apartments and cited concerns about neighboring wildlife, saying animals ousted from area projects like the Mission Hills development, are already coming into their backyards.
The planning board requested traffic counts on Howard Road and more information on accidents at the intersection of Howard and Camp roads. The project was tabled until the Sept. 5 meeting.
One project that brought out large crowds to recent planning board meetings was not discussed Wednesday. The Heron Hill Apartment/First Baptist Church rezoning was tabled for a month so developers could look into it more. It is scheduled to be discussed again at the Sept. 19 meeting.
There was some good news for a few projects in front of the planning board. Erica Donato’s request for a special use permit to operate a daycare facility on Quinby Drive was conditionally approved. Frank’s Flatbed Service also received a conditional approval on a special use permit for a public garage on Maelou Drive as required by the Hamburg Police Department. Gateway Printing received a conditional site plan approval to build an addition to the company’s existing building on Big Tree Road.
Also, a new environmental study on the Willow Woods Subdivision on Taylor Road was discussed at the meeting.
The study found no traces of a dump on the property, but some planning board members are not convinced of the findings.