Legal Tangles: Amazon Fight Nearing End | WAMC

Legal Tangles: Amazon Fight Nearing End

May 9, 2019

The clock is ticking for residents of Schodack, New York who oppose a $100 million dollar Amazon distribution center planned for the town.

The Amazon opponents are holding onto hopes that a lawsuit can stop the project, which the online retailer claims would create 800 jobs in Schodack and generate annual earnings of $22 million.

In August a group of concerned neighbors calling themselves "Birchwood Association" filed a lawsuit challenging the town's approval of the Route 9 project.

A month later, the Schodack Planning Board asked a judge to dismiss the suit. In January ,state Supreme Court Justice Patrick McGrath of Rensselaer County did so. But the legal battle continues.

Birchwood Association Vice President Bob Jansing:   "The Birchwood Association filed an Article 78 following the town planning board's decision to issue a negative declaration on the request to have a comprehensive environmental impact statement. Our Article 78 was denied by Judge McGrath and we filed the necessary appeal because of that.”

Jansing says the project violates the state Environmental Quality Review Act and says the neighbors want a comprehensive environmental impact statement.   "The Town Planning Board did not take that into consideration. The Town Planning Board is the lead agency in this case and they felt that a comprehensive environmental impact statement was not needed. What we want at this time, and our opinion is that everyone should agree to this, even the town planning board, that a comprehensive environmental impact statement be performed. The only studies that were done were done by the property broker, Scannell Incorporated."

Scannell says it won’t comment on pending litigation. A spokesperson for The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation replied to a request for comment via email, stating "DEC currently has no role in this project and cannot weigh in on the pending litigation."

Jansing says the property sits atop an aquifer and he's concerned that the water could become contaminated as all of the property-owners rely on private wells. He says he is confident the appeal will stand.

Schodack Supervisor David Harris says while the town takes no sides, the Birchwood Association has every right to appeal. He adds town attorneys are coordinating with Scannell's legal team.    "They're gonna be responding to what has to be done. I think there's a 30-day period that our attorneys have to make a reply, and there's a few time factors if they go back and forth in replying back and forth from each side, and then it'll sit in front of an appeal judge."

Renselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin told WAMC News this week he had no comment, but added he did not think Judge McGrath's decision would be overturned.