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Fenton Residents Appealing Town's Zoning Approval for Natural Gas Project

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The Fenton Board says they have already received one appeal challenging the Fenton Building Inspector who says a potential natural gas compressor station would not violate local zoning laws.

The lead petitioner on the appeal is Maureen Singer who also led a group of residents to submit an Article 78 against the Town of Fenton after they first approved the project.

"We're hoping to gain the attention of the Board Members, the Planning Board Members, the Zoning Board members, and have everybody acknowledge that no this does not fall under a trucking terminal," said Singer. "That's only for the purpose of making sure that it can fit into the permitted use in limited industrial."

Whether or not a natural gas compressor station can be classified as a "trucking terminal" and be built along West Service Road, which is a limited industrial zone has been a point of disagreement since Supreme Court Judge Ferris Lebous ruled on two Article 78's back in August.

On October 12, Matthew Banks, the Town's Building Inspector submitted a 13-page document to the Fenton Board declaring that a trucking terminal did fit within the Town's zoning laws as limited industrial. Banks cited a Google search for "what is a truck and freight terminal," three articles from Hofstra University, and one from the Office of Freight Management and Operations as evidence for his decision.

"Under the law, he's the one that makes that decision in the first instance, whether this is an allowed use," said Albert Millus, Town Attorney. "He [Banks] makes that decision and then it goes to the next step and the next step here is to go to the Zoning Board of Appeals."

Those who are for the project say that the project is a trucking terminal and therefore the location should be approved, while opponents say it's much more than that.

"It's an operation that processes, manufacturers gas into a different form and it's not the same, it's not consistent with a truck terminal," said Singer.

Singer says that her lawyer, Claudia Braymer, submitted an appeal back on September 11, but the Board didn't address it because "it didn't have an application from NG Advantage." The Town Board said on Wednesday night that it still doesn't have an official application from the Vermont-based natural gas company, but Singer believes that one is not far from being submitted.

"We submitted a previous appeal and we will be submitting a subsequent appeal now that there is another application before them," said Singer. She added that there is some "ambiguity" to whether or not the final signatures have been put on the re-submitted application, but the report done by the Town's Building Inspector signals that it's coming.

Town Supervisor, Dave Hamlin says the Fenton Zoning Board of Appeals will evaluate both Banks' report as well as the appeals and come to a final decision. If the ZBA approves the zoning decision, the project will be allowed to proceed but things could get tricky if they rule against the findings. A negative ruling would mean that NG Advantage could either sue the Town of Fenton or ask the Town Board to revise their laws to include a natural gas compressor station as a trucking terminal.

Hamlin also says the Board has not made any final decisions to appoint people to the two vacant Planning Board seats.

"When the Board reaches a consensus to offer a position then they will interview them," said Hamlin. He added that there is no "paper application" and that there is no exact timeline for when those positions could be filled.

Town Law allows residents to submit any appeals within 60 days of a decision being reached by the Board. This would put the deadline on December 11.

You can read Banks' full report below: