Not everyone is happy that the Town of Tonawanda turned a vacant industrial property into the North Youngmann Commerce Center, a 70-acre business park.
After the business park opened in 2015, the town had to find another location to store excess materials for water and sewer projects. The town picked as a new storage location a much more residential neighborhood on Belmont Avenue, where the town's Water and Sewer Department is located.
Residents who live adjacent to the property on Vicksburg Avenue came to the town board meeting Monday to complain about the smell, dust, noise and industrial-halogen lights from the rear of the building that shine into their homes.
Richard Heckert of 170 Vicksburg Ave. brought a petition signed by 28 neighbors, as well as photos to share to illustrate problems. He said town dump trucks bring in a load of dirt after midnight and then slam their tailgates to make sure the load is empty, waking the neighbors.
He said crushed stone, used by the town for water and sewer projects, is piling up behind the water department building, adjacent to their homes' backyards. The piles have been getting "way out of hand" at 25 to 30 feet tall, he said.
"We can't use our backyards at night. We feel it's becoming a construction zone," Heckert said. "We've noticed these piles of stones have grown and grown and grown."
Bill Engler, a former truck driver who lives at 118 Vicksburg Ave., said he feels some of the problems can be reduced by slowing the trucks, covering the piles of stone and dirt with tarps, and moving the piles of dirt and stone closer to commercial property on Sheridan Drive.
Supervisor Joseph H. Emminger thanked the residents for airing their concerns in March, rather than waiting until it become worse in the summer.
Deputy Supervisor John A. Bargnesi Jr. said the town will speak to supervisors and truck drivers. He said town officials are also looking at a consolidation plan that would move the water department to a less residential area. But he said that won't happen this year.
He said the town last year hired an engineering firm to study the consolidation of the highway, water, sewer, planning, engineering and building departments into one location. He said the study is still looking at recommendations of where it would be located, but the goal would be to locate it in a commercial zone, rather than a residential zone.
"The water department is also our sewer department,and any break in the middle of the night is an emergency, so the dump trucks run back and forth while they are digging up the dirt," Bargnesi said. "It is a 24/7 operation. In a bad winter they are running truck after truck with dirt and stone."
Bargnesi said the success of the North Youngmann Commerce Center led to the problems neighbors adjacent to the Water Department are experiencing.
Unifrax was the most recent business to announce plans to build an 83,000-square-foot, $18 million manufacturing plant in the North Youngmann Commerce Center, joining First Source and M.J. Mechanical.