Niagara City’s $300M Amazon Warehouse Project Clears Major Hurdle | Local News


Last week, Niagara City Council voted unanimously to approve an environmental review that advances plans to build an Amazon fulfillment center warehouse in a cornfield in the city.

All five council members voted in favor of a 27-page “negative statement” that no potentially significant environmental impacts would arise from the proposed $300 million project after the completion of an environmental quality review of the project. State of New York (SEQR), a mandatory procedural step for local and state governments instituted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“In this case, ‘negative’ is a good thing,” said city supervisor Lee S. Wallace, who called environmental review a “key element” in plans for Atlanta-based JB2 Partners. , to build a complex of about 3 million square meters. foot warehouse that will be occupied by the Internet retail giant.

The next steps for Project Amazon – which is still legally referred to as “Project FiFi” – are a decision by the City of Niagara Zoning Board on the deviations requested by JB2 and a vote by City Council, which Wallace says is expected on July 19. the final plan of the site.

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Locals say the Lockport and Packard dual carriageways are already two of the busiest roads in western Niagara County, and intersecting them, especially for eastbound traffic, can be a dangerous challenge.

The proposed site for Amazon’s fulfillment center is a 216-acre lot at 8995 Lockport Road, just south of Packard Road and north of Niagara Falls International Airport. The parcel was deemed “digger-ready” in 2012 by Empire State Development as part of its Build-Now NY program, which reduced the likelihood of snags in the site plan.

“What attracted JB2 and Amazon to this site was the significant amount of work done on this site to evaluate it for development,” said Kimberly R. Nason of Phillips Lytle LLP, the attorney for the project, in an April 5 Buffalo News article.

Corey Auerbach, hired by the City of Niagara as a special advisor for the project, described the state-mandated SEQR as not just assessing the environment, but also considering the social and economic impacts the project would have. on the city.

The city council served as the lead agency in the environmental review, which involved coordination with 28 government agencies and was required before any party involved could approve or fund the project. JB2 Partners has borne the burden of proving to the board that its plans would not cause significant harm – which is different from no adverse impact – in areas such as transportation, wildlife, water quality air, noise, community character and public health.

Amazon: City of Niagara's $300M Warehouse Will Be 'First Mile' Distribution Center

The site, if approved, would have 1,000 employees, with additional seasonal workers in the fourth quarter of each year.

The council’s decision last week showed that JB2 passed the SEQR and avoided a positive declaration, which would have required further study and an environmental impact statement. An EIS would be costly and delay the project, Wallace said. For example, according to the DEC website, the process to arrive at a negative declaration requires three steps, while a positive declaration would require nine additional steps.

Although the DEC can offer advice, issue regulations and resolve disputes involving the SEQR, it has “no authority to review the implementation of the SEQR,” according to the DEC handbook. “It’s quite long, but generally routine,” Wallace said of the process.

North Elevation of Proposed NIagara City Amazon Warehouse (copy)

A rendering shows the north facade of the proposed new 3 million square foot warehouse in the city of Niagara that would be built for Amazon. Residents and city leaders should focus on ways to help this project succeed.

Niagara City Planning Board

Auerbach said that in major developments such as the one proposed in the City of Niagara — easily the largest in the city’s history — an outside candidate with Amazon’s resources will conduct environmental assessments of the property before even starting. express interest. Niagara County campaigned publicly in 2020 to attract Amazon’s interest after public opposition thwarted the Seattle-based company’s foray into Grand Island.

On February 15, JB2 Partners formally submitted an application for site plan approval to City Council, the City’s Zoning Appeals Board, and the Planning Board.

Ben Tsujimoto can be reached at [email protected], (716) 849-6927 or on Twitter at @Tsuj10.


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