Assemblyman Santabarbara Introduces Bill Calling for Moratorium on Annexation of Farmland for Industrial Uses

Montgomery County Environmental Groups, Citizens Against Local Landfills (C.A.L.L.), Saving Town of Mohawk (Saving T.O.M), Local Officials, more than 1,500 Montgomery County Residents Oppose the Annexation
April 22, 2019

Assemblyman Santabarbara, Town of Mohawk officials, local environmental groups, ‘Citizens Against Local Landfills’ (C.A.L.L.) and ‘Saving the Town of Mohawk’ (Saving TOM) come together on Earth Day with a unified message — they are calling for a halt on the annexation of 260 acres of mostly prime farmland from the Town of Mohawk (Montgomery County) to the City of Johnstown in Fulton County for industrial use.

In a letter from Santabarbara and Citizens Against Local Landfills, they stated, “We support rejection of these annexation plans.” “The fact is, both Fulton and Montgomery County currently have hundreds of acres of undeveloped lndustrial Park land and this proposal would add to that number.”

“The right decision is to SAY NO to annexation proposals like this and say no to more empty industrial parks,” said Assemblyman Santabarbara. “Simply put, Montgomery County residents deserve better!”

New bill calls for a ONE-YEAR MORATORIUM on Annexation of Farmland for Industrial Use in New York:

In a letter to Commissioner Basil Seggos at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, who serves on the New York State Assembly’s Agriculture Committee, is calling for a moratorium on the annexation of farmland for industrial use in New York State. “We must take action to allow time for further consideration of proposals like this this in the rural areas of our state that are robbing communities like the Town of Mohawk of some of the richest farmland in the Eastern United States,” Santabarbara said. “Taking productive farmland and forest and converting it to unutilized industrial land gives decision makers a false reason for bad decision-making,” Santabarbara added.

In the letter Santabarbara noted, “When the original industrial park was built in the City of Johnstown (Fulton County), water supplies for surrounding properties were damaged and forced an operating farm to close. Santabarbara made reference to a record document that discusses some environmental damage. Santabarbara, a civil engineer, also made reference to record mapping indicating a body of water that runs through two of the sites and possible wetland areas.

Recalling the sewage sludge facility proposal in the Town of Glen last year, Santabarbara said, “I have significant concerns about the future impact of proposals such as this that expose surrounding residents to significant health hazards by putting neighboring wells supplying water to nearby homes at risk,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. “We must do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of the families and residents in rural communities and protect the natural resources in upstate New York.”

MONTGOMERY COUNTY RESIDENTS RECALL SIMILAR PROPOSALS IN THE PAST:

C.A.L.L. members stated, “We have witnessed three attempts to site large-scale waste management facilities in the lands of the Glen lndustrial Park. The latest attempt was coupled with cries that the land had not been used for its purpose as an lndustrial Park so we had to take what we could get.”

1998: The Citizens Against Local Landfills (C.A.L.L.) is a not-for-profit corporation formed by a group of concerned citizens to oppose a major landfill proposal that was to go into the Glen Canal View Industrial Park in Montgomery County. Even though it was said to be a “done deal” at the time the proposal was defeated. It took the community coming together and being vocal and present to eventually convince the developers and their supporters to withdraw the proposal.

2018: Just last year, the same Glen Canal View Business Park was targeted for a bio-solid sewage (LYSTEK) facility. The proposal would have sited a sewage sludge facility over an existing aquifer in the Glen Industrial Park. The proposal was ultimately withdrawn after Assemblyman Santabarbara introduced a bill in the State Assembly calling for a moratorium on such facilities in New York State until environmental concerns could be further examined.

MORE THAN 1,500 SIGN PETITION OPPOSING ANNEXATION OF FARMLAND: The 260 acres of land in question is located in an agricultural district, zoned mostly as agricultural-farmed with additional farms surrounding. Local residents and neighboring towns are concerned that their property values as well as their quality of life will decrease if farmland is annexed and used for industrial purposes. Among their concerns are traffic, light, noise, and air pollution.

The entire Town of Mohawk board is against the annexation of this farmland. Subsequently, the Village of Fultonville voted to oppose the annexation as well. However, Montgomery and Fulton counties already negotiated a revenue sharing agreement for the project and Montgomery County Executive, Matt Ossenfort, has already signed the agreement.

At a March 2019 town board meeting in the Town of Mohawk, a joint statement from Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara and C.A.L.L., Inc. opposing the annexation was delivered and read into record. Subsequently, the nearby Village of Fultonville also voted to oppose the annexation at their March 18th meeting.

QUALITY OF LIFE CONCERNS:

C.A.L.L. also noted that the 30A corridor is already overcrowded with trucks going to and from the Johnstown Industrial Park. “Infrastructure in Fonda and Mohawk has been markedly deteriorated by this traffic, not to mention Fultonville and Glen. Calls for a bypass will surely be rekindled as an attraction for a company to fill the park.”

“This annexation is in direct conflict with the Town of Mohawk 2015 comprehensive plan,” said Tony Bruno, Town Board Member of the Town of Mohawk. “The Town of Mohawk will continue to oppose this annexation and we have the backing of many of our constituents.”

“This annexation is not a need but a want and this annexation is a symbol of greed not growth,” said Cara Bruno, Town of Mohawk resident and founding member of “Saving TOM” that has garnered the support of more than 1,500 Montgomery County residents. “There are several vacant lots in Fulton County that should be filled first before annexing our farm land from Montgomery County into Fulton County for no real need. We, as a community, will never be successful if we only look at the short-term benefits of an action. Our biggest concern should be the selfish message we are sending to the future when our County Executive, Matthew Ossenfort, was on record saying ‘It doesn’t matter what happens in 80 years because we will be long gone by then.’ This mindset will ruin any hope our children and grandchildren have to thrive. We need to understand that a community that digs up its own farm land for no reason is sabotaging its own success story.”