Ballston eyes curbs on heavy industry
Certain businesses would be prohibited
BALLSTON The Ballston Town Board may vote as early as Tuesday on a proposal that would ban heavy industry in the town.
Officials will take public comment on a proposed zoning ordinance amendment at a public hearing at 7 p.m. The Town Board will meet at 7:30.
Town Board member William Goslin said he may call for a vote at the meeting unless some big new issue surfaces, adding that he first drafted the proposal about a year and a half ago and the town held one public hearing on the legislation a month ago.
He wants the town to replace its current industrial zone with a light industry designation, a zone that several other towns in Saratoga County have. Light industry operations — such as the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant in Malta — conduct most of their business indoors and aren’t considered as disruptive to the community as heavy industrial operations.
“I found that we were the only one in the area that allows these heavy industrial uses,” Goslin said. “By allowing it, we are essentially attracting it.”
The current zoning ordinance puts “almost no restrictions at all” on businesses that want to locate in the town’s industrial zone, which includes Curtis Industrial Park on Route 67 near the Malta town line, he said.
Asphalt plant proposed
The issue came to Goslin’s attention more than two years ago when Dolomite Products Co. of Rochester proposed a new hot mix and asphalt plant on one acre of a 10-acre parcel at the Curtis Industrial Park. Residents worried that the plant would harm the environment and generate a lot of truck traffic on Route 67, which is already busy.
Goslin said Dolomite’s submitted proposal would not be affected by a zoning change now.
But Stephanie Ferradino, an attorney for the company, said town officials have refused to write an exception for Dolomite into the amendment, which she believes means officials will try to ban the project.
They did write in exceptions for existing operations.
“I’m sure if they pass this legislation, a lawsuit will be pending,” she said. The company would like to see the Planning Board continue to review the project rather than the Town Board changing the zoning ordinance.
Dolomite spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” on a comprehensive environmental study it recently submitted to the Planning Board, Ferradino said. The board will determine whether the study is complete and then hold public hearings for residents to weigh in on potential environmental impacts.
That study shows that traffic on Route 67 will result in nine trucks entering and exiting the facility during peak hours, she said.
Air pollution resulting from the plant is expected to register at the lowest level for which the state issues air permits, requiring a “minor” rather than a “major” permit, Ferradino said.
Noise from the plant would meet town requirements, she said. And the study showed that resident concerns about water pollution in Ballston Lake are unwarranted, because stormwater on the site flows away from the lake, not toward it, she noted.
The company also will need permission from the Zoning Board of Appeals to exceed a 40-foot height limit to build a 70-foot storage silo.
Permitted uses in the zoning proposal include laundry and dry-cleaning facilities, light manufacturing, warehouses less than 20,000 square feet, local and accessory transportation services except for truck terminals, truck and auto rental facilities, animal care facilities, ambulance facilities, research laboratories and equipment maintenance.
Prohibited uses include manufacture of asphalt, explosives, nonorganic fertilizer or glue, dye, rubber, petroleum, chloride, ammonia, lime cement, soap, glucose, tanneries, scrap metal yards, power generation plants and smelting of metals.
Supervisor Patti Southworth said she would prefer the town examine the zoning change as part of a larger comprehensive plan review, rather than as a separate amendment.
“My concerns are that we’re changing the zoning without going through the correct process,” Southworth said.
She also would like to see the Town Board wait for comments from the Saratoga County Planning Board and take time to review public comments that will be made at Tuesday’s public hearing rather than voting the same night.
“I usually like to go through and take all the comments under consideration,” Southworth said.