Lake Placid/North Elba Residents Concerned About A Bulk Propane Tank Proposal

Sep 4, 2019

At its meeting tonight, the Lake Placid/North Elba Joint Review Board plans to review a proposed plan to place a large propane tank near the village of Lake Placid. But opponents fear the board members are not taking safety and environmental concerns seriously.

Earlier this year Hurley Brothers, a propane and fuel oil distributor in Lake Placid, applied to create a bulk propane storage and transfer facility on the Old Military Road just outside the village.  The site is adjacent to the Balsams of Lake Placid community and the United Hebrew Community Cemetery. It is near the Adirondack Medical Center, a nursing home, the John Brown Farm State Historic Site and Olympic Training sites.  

Jon Runstrom lives at the Balsams and has numerous concerns about the potential of having a 36-thousand gallon propane tank only yards from his residence.  “The tank is right along Old Military Highway which is the most traveled road in the county. The proposal is for trucks to enter and exit right at a blind spot on the highway. Secondly although there are infrequent incidents with these propane tanks they do exist and they can be quite catastrophic. There are only two fire hydrants in the vicinity. The tank itself is going to be a ugly industrial type installation in a residential rural type environment.”

Because he has recused himself from the case, Joint Review Board chair Bill Hurley would not comment on the pending application.  Hurley Brothers co-owner Michael Hurley responded via email to questions from WAMC.  He notes that: “The Town of North Elba has a strict Zoning Code and there are not many districts where such a plant is allowed. We have been looking for a few years for a site and this location is available, it is an allowable use in the district, has good road access, and is outside the Village of Lake Placid.  We have contacted many other property owners in districts which allow this Use and have not had any luck in purchasing land suitable.”

Hurley adds that they are not surprised that there is opposition to the proposal “… but wonder why this group did not object to a very similar proposal that the Board approved at another location in the Town of North Elba. If this proposal is so dangerous to the community why did they not object to that Proposal?”  

Hurley says complete safety reports and data are available to the public, the company has implemented redundant safety measures and that  “…there are 10 of these plants currently within 15 miles of our proposal with over 180 years of combined operation with not one property damage accident, death, injury due to fire, or loss to any neighboring property. For years there was a plant located on Old Military Rd.”

Runstrom says it’s not just the propane tank proposal that has upset opponents. He says they are displeased with how the Joint Review Board has handled the application.  “The applicant is chairman of the Joint Review Board and although he has  recused himself from any participation, discussions or voting the board itself seems to be on a path to defend and support the installation as opposed to keeping the needs of the community in mind.”

Calls to the vice chair of the Lake Placid/North Elba Joint Review Board were not returned in time for broadcast. The meeting begins at 5:30 this evening.