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  • Rich Klein


The Town of Thompson Planning Board Wednesday night voted to approve the final site plan for the massive two-warehouse project in the heart of Rock Hill that's being developed by Robert Berman, the former chairman and CEO of Empire Resorts.

Board member Kathleen Lara made the motion to approve the site plan.

The Avon Park project calls for construction of two warehouse buildings that total 561,600 square feet on approximately 175 acres and parking spaces for some 294 employees plus 105 trailer parking spaces. Avon Commercial Park will also include a principal access drive, an emergency access drive, stormwater and utility infrastructure and several local highway improvements.

The vote late Wednesday was taken despite steady and significant opposition from residents and some local businesses. The Board also voted in favor without knowing or publicly disclosing the company that will occupy the two warehouses and distribution center.

The Board further acknowledged on Wednesday that it did not have any recent contact with the Rock Hill Fire Department regarding the latest site plan, only that it heard from the department "early on" in the process.

But Brian Soller, chief of the Rock Hill Fire Department, told The SullivanTimes on Thursday that "the concerns that we submitted were addressed by the applicant on the current site plan."

Glenn Smith, project engineer for Avon Commercial Park , at left , with Steve Vegliante, one of the attorneys representing Robert Berman/ Avon Commercial Park before the Thompson Planning Board on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, an Article 78 lawsuit was filed in State Supreme Court/Sullivan earlier this month by some local residents and businesses. The suit urges the court to vacate and annul the negative declaration issued under the State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQR") by the Town of Thompson Planning Board on June 8, 2022. The case is before Judge Stephan Schick.

One of the plaintiffs in the suit, James Holdsworth, lives on property that is bounded on three sides by the warehouse property, according to the filing.

The Lake Communities Alliance (LCA), an organization that has opposed the Avon Commercial Park Project - and the granting by the Planning Board of a permit for a sleep away camp at the Hamaspik Resort - has been vocal about the way the Board operates.

“The LCA is deeply disappointed by the Town of Thompson Planning Board’s utter disregard of the community’s rights and concerns," said LCA President Jessica Lansdale in a recent news release."Hundreds of letters were submitted by concerned residents raising numerous issues regarding these projects. It is deeply disappointing that the members of the Planning Board were dismissive of the concerns of the community they ostensibly serve.”

Michael Miller, a member of the LCA steering committee and a past president of the New York State Bar Association, added: “The outcome of the so-called public hearings on these matters seemed predetermined and appeared to be little more than Kabuki-type theater. The community’s overwhelming opposition to these projects was completely ignored and the Planning Board clearly fast-tracked approval in both cases.”

As for the Hamaspik Resort expansion project for a sleep away camp, it was also on the agenda for site plan approval on Wednesday - but the Board never addressed it and did not remove it from the agenda in advance of the meeting.


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