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Lincoln Equities Group Plans To Build A 220,000-square-foot Distribution Center At Executive Corporate Park On Route 303 In Valley Cottage
By Tina Traster
More details. More traffic data.
That was the takeaway from the Town of Clarkstown Planning Board for Lincoln Equities Group, a landowner/developer proposing to build a 220,000-square-foot distribution warehouse on a 20-acre parcel it owns at the Executive Corporate Park on Route 303 in Valley Cottage.
Lincoln Equities of Rutherford, NJ, which builds and typically re-sells leased distribution centers in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Long Island, hopes to develop a Rockland County facility that may be leased to one of its tenant it has previously attracted to its tri-state properties. Lincoln’s tenants include Amazon, UPS, and The Home Depot.
Planning board members universally latched onto the dicey issue of spilling more truck traffic onto the already hazardous and busy Route 303 despite both the company’s and the town consultant’s traffic reports concluding the project would have “not have a significant impact.” Several residents spoke about traffic and safety issues along the state road, telling stories about delays and horrific accidents.
“We live here. We know Route 303. We know this will have an impact,” said Board Member Dan Caprara
In addition to the 220,000-square-foot building, the applicant is seeking 250 employee parking spaces, 54 loading berths, and 53 tractor-trailer parking spaces.
Board members felt their decision-making was hamstrung because the applicant would not reveal the tenant, or the two tenants, for the building, making it difficult to know hours of operation or what kind of activity could be expected. Clarkstown allows warehouse distribution centers to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The traffic study may say one thing but sometimes you’ve got to use your gut,” said Planning Board member Dan Caprara. “We live here. We know Route 303. We know this will have an impact.”
The traffic study originally analyzed four intersections: three of which are within the boundaries of the corporate park. The fourth intersection is Route 303 and Executive Boulevard. A subsequent study included Gilchrest Road and the 5-corners intersection at Lake Road in Valley Cottage.
Access to the facility would be on Executive Drive, though the project runs adjacent to Route 303, just south of the stoplight at Executive Drive and Route 303. The property is zoned “CO” which allows for warehouses, as a matter of right.
Residents also raised concerns about environmental issues such as particulate matter from idling trucks, noise pollution, land disturbance, and the impact to nearby businesses in the Lake Ridge Plaza shopping center on Route 303, Valley Cottage Elementary School, and residential neighborhoods within 1,000 feet of the industrial park.
“If I know there’s going to be traffic backed up, I’m not going to shop in the Valley Cottage shopping center,” said Upper Nyack resident Peggy Kurtz. “I’m going to go in a different direction. This will hurt local businesses.”
According to the developer’s proposal, traffic generated by the project will be minimal, estimating an additional thirteen trucks to weekday morning peak traffic and thirteen to the afternoon rush hour. Some were skeptical that the numbers would be this low, given the developer’s plan to have parking spaces for 53 trailers. The engineers also projected “one truck every seven minutes or 66 truck trips a day, including weekends.
With only one access in and out of Clarkstown Executive Park, truck traffic leaving the warehouse will spill onto state road Route 303, a single-lane byway. This traffic will likely head south toward the New York State Thruway passing through residential and shopping districts.
“We have 60 employees, and you have no idea the number of complaints I get about the safety of accessing our animal hospital off Route 303,” said Valley Cottage Animal Hospital owner Russ Petro. “And it’s not only the volume, but how fast people go. And add to that the icy conditions.”
Petro pointed out trucks are prohibited from Route 9W where it splits with Route 303 in Congers, which means trucks siphon onto Route 303 from the north.
“We understand your data points,” said Board Vice Chairman Edward Guardaro. “But we have the boots on the ground. We need to know more.” Guardaro asked the applicant to expand its traffic data to include the impact on the “Five Points” corner at Lake and Route 303, Christian Herald Road, and Mountainview Avenue.
The applicant also intends to ask the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance to exceed the 40-foot allowable height. Originally, Lincoln Equities told the town it wanted a 50-foot-high center, but it has reduced its plans to 40 feet.
Board member Guardaro voiced concern over the project’s height, saying it would be impossible to adequately screen a building of that height. Existing buildings in the corporate park range in height from 20 to 32 feet.
The town has determined that the application is a “Type-1 SEQRA”, which means it will be subject to a full environmental review before the Planning Board. Environmental issues might include noise from a 24/7 operation, diesel exhaust and the release of particulate matter from idling and operating trucks, air quality monitoring, and the potential restriction on operating hours.
Sparks flew after Anthony Veneziano, counsel for Lincoln Equities, suggested the board move forward with a “negative dec,” or a negative declaration, alleviating the need for further environmental study. Veneziano asked the board to let the application move forward and the company would promise to mitigate problems after the project was built.”
“It doesn’t work like that,” said board member Phil DeGaetano. “We have no info on your tenant. We can’t just look at the property on SPEC. We understand you want to build to suit but you can’t get our vote.”
Lincoln Equities is on a buying, developing, and selling spree to keep up with demand for distribution warehouses. Companies like Lincoln Equities typically build and lease the distribution centers and then sell them to investors or REITS. The company told the board they are developing 7 million square feet of warehouse space.
In June Lincoln Equities said Amazon will occupy its under-construction 360,000 square-foot industrial warehouse in Rutherford, N.J. Highland Cross will be a state-of-the-art last-mile distribution center in the heart of the busy Meadowlands industrial market. Lincoln Equities procured $115 million in industrial build-to-suit construction financing for the facility, a Class A industrial site.
Also, last year, the company said UPS will lease the firm’s waterfront Lincoln Logistics Bayonne facility. The 880,000 square foot regional hub and distribution center is being built on the site of the former Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne (MOTBY).
In January Lincoln sold its Lincoln Logistics in Hicksville, LI, located on 10 acres at 344 Duffy Ave., and fully occupied by Home Depot. The brand-new, 195,610-square-foot warehouse was completed in December 2020. It serves as Home Depot’s market distribution operation on Long Island – and features 36-foot-clear heights, 50-by 54-foot-wide column spacing, 29 dock-high doors, two drive-in doors and 4,185 square feet of office space.
The applicant is set to appear before the Zoning Board of Appeal on Feb. 28, but it is unclear if it will be ready because the board asked the applicant to return with more traffic data that expands the surveyed area beyond the immediate intersections on Route 303.