By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Islanders will have the first opportunity since March to tell the Grand Island Town Board face to face what they think of the proposed Amazon warehouse project.
During last Monday’s regular meeting at Town Hall, the board set a special meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, at Town Hall to continue a public hearing on the application of TC Buffalo to develop Project Olive, a massive e-commerce warehouse eyed for Long Road.
TC Buffalo’s application for a planned development district will include an application for “incentive zoning,” which is defined by the law dictionary at lawinsider.com as “benefits to a developer in return for the developer providing certain features, design elements, uses, services, or amenities desired by the locality.”
Kim Nason of Phillips Lytle representing TC Buffalo, the applicant for the Amazon’s Project Olive, told the Town Board during a workshop meeting that preceded the regular meeting Monday: “As is required by any applicant for PDD now under the town’s code we submitted last week an application for incentive zoning. That application includes a proposed $10 million payment to the town to fund goals that are identified in the town’s comprehensive plan, along with goals of TC Buffalo and its tenant’s charitable goals as well, which is outlined in the application. But specifically the $10 million is meant to fund construction of a community center, infrastructure improvements in the town and the expansion of the Grand Island bike trail, including as I mentioned, the connection of the Grand Island bike trail to the proposed multimodal path that would run from Long to Bedell (roads) on our site,”
“That $10 million offer, while incentive zoning as required under the code, is meant to demonstrate TC Buffalo’s commitment to working with the communities in which its projects are located,” Nason said.
Some Islanders who spoke during the public comment period of the regular meeting Monday had a different definition of incentive zoning. Brooks Rimes of Grand Island told the board he was “appalled by the $10 million that was offered.”
“It’s called an incentive. I would call it more a bribe. Amazon wants you to skip the studies on traffic and the environment and just vote yes. I think this is so wrong.”
Council members voted 5-0 to set the hearing for Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. The meeting will offer the public the first opportunity since COVID-19 to talk to the board in person and not online, although restrictions will still be in place. Councilman Tom Digati explained restrictions saying. “Outside, we’re going to have a speaker that will be broadcasting the meeting, but obviously, due to COVID, we do have to consider the number of people that we have here,” he said. “So to accommodate what we expect to be a large number of people, we’re going to have to have people just come in, say what they need to say, and then step out to listen to the rest of the meeting.”
Project Olive is a development of approximately 145.4 acres of land located at 2780 Long Road for use as an Amazon e-commerce storage and distribution facility for consumer products.