TOWN OF MONTGOMERY - The Town Board unanimously voted Thursday to temporarily halt development review and approval on some warehouses and distribution centers larger than 40,000 square feet.
The six-month moratorium aims to re-evaluate development projects within the town amid over-development concerns among residents.
Supervisor Brian Maher said the moratorium is built around the fact that the town is in need of diverse development, and the pause would allow it to update the town's comprehensive plan.
“Passing this moratorium is an important part to allow us to do what we need to do in the spirit of what we were doing, which is protecting our town while being smart about growth and businesses here in the Town of Montgomery,” Maher said at Thursday's special meeting. “I believe that is what our community has been looking for and asking for through the entire time.”
Although some residents and business owners expressed concerns about the downside of pausing development during the economic slowdown, Maher assured that the way this moratorium has been written would not have the negative impact some people feared.
“I don't think it's going to be a job killer or keep people out of work,” Maher said.
The reason is that the board has taken a hard look at each case and would determine whether to grant a specific hardship waiver, he added.
Projects whose Draft Environmental Impact Statement have been accepted or have received a negative declaration will not be affected.
As of January, there are 49 projects pending before the Planning Board, including 11 warehouses and distribution centers totaling more than 3 million square feet.
Five of the projects in the pipeline are larger than 40,000 square feet. Two million-square-foot warehouses, by Amazon and Medline, are still moving forward.
Village of Montgomery resident Don Berger, a founder of a 500-member citizens group that opposes massive warehouses, is glad to see the town finally moving forward with the moratorium, but he had expected a stricter one that would include more projects.
“Although it's a weak standing moratorium, at least we have one,” Berger said.