TOWN OF MONTGOMERY — Amazon has finally confirmed that it will occupy a proposed warehouse of more than one million square feet at the intersection of routes 17K and 747, which would be the largest building in Orange County.
The 1,010,880-square-foot warehouse is proposed as a non-sortable fulfillment center, which would be one of the company’s more than 75 fulfillment centers across the country. This center would house bulky items such as patio furniture and outdoor equipment.
The project would be built on about 190 acres of land, and it would include 1,060 car parking spaces, 225 trailer parking spaces and a water-waste treatment plant.
After the warehouse has been given the green light from the Town Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board, the application goes back to the town’s Industrial Development Agency seeking a tax break of $25.3 million.
Although not unanimously, the IDA approved the same amount of a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement in November to its original developer, Bluewater Industrial Partners LLC, amid controversy among residents.
Under the 15-year PILOT arrangement, no taxes would be assessed during the first five years, then the tax bill would gradually rise, on a sliding scale starting at 50 percent, to the full amount, which was $2.78 million annually under the most recent rates.
But due to a change of ownership, a new applicant, USEF Sailfish, is required to go through the process again. The warehouse would create at least 800 jobs with an average annual salary of $32,156, according to its application.
At a public hearing held on Monday, government officials and residents expressed another round of concerns about giving tax benefits to a company with one of the highest market values in the world. Potential impact on traffic and sewer are also raised questions.
Karina Tipton, of the Village of Montgomery, urges the board to take a hard look at the application. Based on her findings, a majority of potential employees would come outside of the town.
“I’m not seeing any benefits for the town except the tax,” Tipton said.
Supervisor Brian Maher suggested the previous approval should be withdrawn because the exemptions would have massive and detrimental long-term financial consequences to the local taxing authorities. He referred to a recent report that Amazon’s approximate market value is nearly one trillion dollars, and another applicant, Medline, recently withdrew its application for the same type of development project.
“Amazon is exponentially large and certainly will not suffer any consequences to its existence and operations should the instant application be denied,” Maher said.