Highbridge warehouse gets final approval


By Patsy Nicosia

In an unanimous decision Tuesday, Schoharie’s Planning Board approved the 48-acre Highbridge project, a 540,000-square foot warehouse off I-88 and 30A for a still-undetermined tenant.
The Planning Board’s vote followed a 3-2 decision from the Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday approving a 10-foot height variance for the warehouse; there will also be a convenience store and fast food restaurant at the site.
The ZBA had previously OKed the height variance in a straw vote.
The final approval came quickly with three mostly-routine “conditions” put together by attorney Dave Brennan and engineer Mike Harrington.
Among them: that the rooftop HVAC units be located at least 20 feet from the edge of the building—an effort to reduce their visibility against Terrace Mountain.
Tuesday, the Planning board spent more than an hour going through its list of conditions, also prepared by Mr. Brennan and Mr. Harrington, also in an effort to address some of the concerns raised from neighbors.
Idling trucks will be prohibited and enforced, the developer will post a bond for tree replacement and prune trees as necessary to prevent their blocking the view of the Schoharie Valley, and announcements over a PA system are prohibited.
The special use permit will also require that Highbridge remove all trash and debris that inevitably accumulates at the site.
Failure to do so will be a violation of the site plan.
The developers will also be required to maintain the escrow account that’s been established in case the Code Enforcement Officer needs to tap into it for technical assistance or other expenses.
Planning Board members went into executive decision with Mr. Brennan for about 20 minutes before coming out to ask about Highbridge’s plan for a PILOT—payment in lieu of taxes.
PILOTS are phased-out tax breaks based on improvements to a site; the payments would be above and beyond the approximately $14,000 annually in taxes being paid on the property now.
Total investment at the project is estimated at $25-$50 million.
Consultant the MRB Group estimates over 15 years, with a PILOT, property taxes will total over $7.5 million, an increase of more than $7.3 million.
Planning Borad members asked Highbridge’s Matt Roth whether their plans would change if there’s a PILOT for the warehouse site, but not the convenience store and fast food restaurant.
“I think that would be a difficult endeavor without a project-wide PILOT,” and something they’d have to address in negotiations, he said.
A PILOT application has not been submitted.
It was nearly a year ago to the day—June 21, 2022—that Highbridge’s plans were first made public.
After Tuesday’s vote, Mr. Roth thanked the Planning Board, ZBA, Town Board, and SEEC for their hours and months of work.
“We’re very excited by this opportunity and excited to begin working with the community,” he said.