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Amazon warehouse gets an OK from Oyster Bay Town, but hurdles remain

The state Department of Environmental Conservation still must

The state Department of Environmental Conservation still must weigh in on the warehouse because the land contains pollutants from manufacturing that took place there for decades.  Credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

Amazon has moved closer to opening a warehouse on the old Cerro Wire property in Syosset.

A Town of Oyster Bay panel on Wednesday night approved the warehouse construction plan put forward by property owner Syosset Park Development LLC. The 204,000-square-foot building would be rented by Amazon for making "last-mile" deliveries to customers, an attorney for Syosset Park said.

The unanimous decision by the six-member Planning Advisory Board came during a virtual meeting lasting about 20 minutes. The board first took up the $72 million project on Jan. 6 at a 1½-hour meeting.

"This approval brings us one step closer to cleaning up the [Cerro Wire] site and creating hundreds of local jobs at a time in which our residents need them the most," Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino said.

Amazon, in an application for tax breaks from Nassau County, said it plans to hire 150 warehouse personnel, with managers earning $60,000 per year and package handlers at least $15 per hour. Additional jobs would be created by the independent transportation companies whose van drivers would pick up packages from the warehouse for delivery.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment on Thursday.

Town spokesman Brian Nevin said its Department of Environmental Resources has reviewed the warehouse project, which doesn’t require approval by the town board. "The only remaining town approvals would be building permits later in the process," he said on Wednesday.

Syosset Park and Amazon have more hurdles to clear.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation must give the go-ahead to build the warehouse because the land north of the Long Island Expressway contains pollutants from heavy manufacturing that took place there for decades.

The DEC, responding to complaints from civic groups, has extended the time it will accept written comments to Feb. 10 and will hold a virtual public meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 27. Community opposition scuttled past proposals to put a mall or a housing and retail development on the long vacant property.

Kevin McKenna, founder of the civic group Save Our Town of Oyster Bay, has said the Cerro Wire site contains carcinogens that if released into the air pose a health hazard to homeowners and the students attending two nearby schools.

On Wednesday, Syosset Park lawyer Jeffrey D. Forchelli, citing a DEC investigation, said, "the site doesn’t pose a significant threat to public health or the environment."

He also said, "There will not be a traffic problem" because the 32 tractor trailer trucks bringing packages to the Amazon warehouse every day and the 344 vans used to deliver them will be arriving before or after rush hour.

The county’s Industrial Development Agency is weighing a request for a property-tax reduction over 15 years, which is opposed by the Syosset Central School District, Nassau Legis. Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview) and others. IDA chairman Richard Kessel said Wednesday the Amazon project isn't on the agenda for next week's IDA board meeting.

Amazon already operates two last-mile warehouses in Bethpage and one in the Shirley-East Yaphank area. The retailer also has plans for warehouses in Holbrook, Westhampton Beach and Carle Place, with the latter expected to open this year.

An earlier version of this story gave the wrong date for the deadline for written comments because of incorrect information from a representative of Syosset Park Development LLC. The story also misspelled the surname of Jeffrey D. Forchelli.

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