Letters: Two perspectives on proposed Rt. 28 concrete plant

Auringer responds to criticisms

I feel compelled to respond to your recent (May 27th ) article “Manufacturing Proposal Borders Bluestone Wild Forest,” written by reporter Paul Smart. The article contained inaccuracies which were repeated at the recent Town of Kingston Planning Board meeting regarding our project at 850 Route 28. The following letter will shed some important light on our plans for the site. Additional information may be found at www.850route28.com.

850 Route 28 is the site of an abandoned hard stone mine where much of the land is now heavily scarred from operations done in the 1950s through 70s. The Town of Kingston has historically been a mining town. The property is already zoned in the Town of Kingston for heavy commercial/industrial use. My company purchased the land in June of 2018. 

The proposed site will be used for fabrication of pre-cast concrete slabs [molding of concrete], needed for road and bridge construction projects throughout New York State.  Additionally, we will be attaching steel plates to steel-beams on site At no time will there be any cement or steel production [manufacturing] taking place at the site, which was wrongly repeated by local environmental groups in social media and at the meeting.  Furthermore, no toxic chemicals will be used or stored at the location. We will be using cutting-edge technologies and methods to reduce our footprint of operations to the barest minimum to ensure we exceed both state and local environmental regulations.

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My company has complied with all requests by local and state authorities, regarding the impact on the environment and local traffic, including numerous, carefully conducted research studies. The NYS DEC, NYS DOT, Ulster County Planning, and Town of Kingston have not found any reason to not approve this project following their extensive reviews. We have addressed any and all issues regarding noise, light, water and air concerns, as well as submitted plans for site preparation that will protect neighboring lands, including the land purchased just this past February by the Open Space Institute.

All neighbors of the property were notified by the Town of Kingston of hearings, in writing (certified mail by Town of Kingston), and the June 17th hearing was the 4th such hearing in four months to be held about the project. OSI’s purchase of property in February, is likely why they were late to learn of our project’s plans. There was never any intent to exclude OSI or anyone else from knowing of these plans — they are a matter of public record. It is also important to note that at Monday’s Planning Board meeting representatives of the Open Space Institute publicly said they did not oppose our project.

When the 850 Route 28 property is in full operation, we expect to hire 60+ full time well-paid staff (well above minimum wage). Our contribution to local taxes are estimated to be around $363,000, all going to school districts, the county and Town of Kingston (a hamlet of only 900 people which could very much use the tax base increase from the project, as exhibited by its limited financial ability to even share documents online with the public). Furthermore, there are many local businesses along Route 28 that will benefit from the project’s employees patronizing their businesses, and some may move to the town, adding to the aforementioned tax base, etc.

Let me say in closing that I grew up in Ulster County, and was born in the Town of Kingston, and know first-hand what it’s like to have to leave the area I love to find work. I am an avid outdoorsman, and love the beauty of our local open spaces as much as anyone. My wish is to create a win-win situation for all — to responsibly develop an already heavily-scarred property for use in creating products that are needed for making local bridges in NYS, and do so in a way that is sensitive to the needs of the community and the existence of adjacent properties and lands. I would like to do all this while providing well-paying jobs to local residents. We are open to working with the Open Space Institute and other groups where we can, and plan on being a good neighbor to our very best ability.

Tom Auringer
Owner, 850 Route 28, LLC

Re: 850 Route 28 LLC

Woodstock Land Conservancy has been engaged over the past six weeks in a real-time effort to further our understanding of the proposed precast concrete and steel manufacturing facility, 850 route 28 LLC, (currently seeking site plan/special permit approvals from the Town of Kingston Planning Board). Our primary concerns regard multiple potential impacts which professional consultants and community members have identified in that time. Many of the impacts and information recently brought to light have to date not been identified in the application documents nor in the review process as required by law. 

It is now beyond dispute that the project poses numerous previously unidentified potential negative impacts on natural resources as well as on the public’s continued enjoyment of the surrounding NYSDEC Onteora Lake and Bluestone Wild Forest recreational area, as well potential impacts on the immediately adjacent 208 acre property recently acquired by Open Space Institute (OSI) to be conveyed to New York State. Fortunately, the New York State Environmental Quality Review law (or SEQR) includes a mechanism to address exactly this kind of situation.

The Town of Kingston Planning Board assumed Lead Agency status in a Coordinated Review of the proposed project (along with NYSDEC and the Ulster County Planning Board) under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and issued a Negative Declaration for a Type 1 project. As Lead Agency, the Town Planning Board is required to follow SEQR process and requirements. Specifically, when new impacts and new information about a proposed project are brought to their attention — the law requires the Town of Kingston Planning Board to suspend or rescind the deficient Negative Declaration along with consideration of all pending approvals including site plan review and special permit request. SERQA mandates that the Board must move to formally identify, investigate and assess all of the new information and impacts. 

At last week’s packed planning board public hearing, many speakers strongly urged the Planning Board to follow the spirit and letter of the law, and
require the applicant to fund and complete a full Environmental Impact Statement. The public needs to be assured that this project will not inflict serious or permanent negative impacts on what has become a beloved, ever more popular and constitutionally protected public recreational area, nor on its natural resources including air quality, noise, forest habitat, streams, ponds and wetland complexes. And for the Town the associated economic benefits of this State Wild Forest are beneficial as well. To follow further project details, please view Woodstock Land Conservancy’s FB page. We will endeavor to keep it updated.

Maxanne Resnick
Executive Director, Woodstock Land Conservancy

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