LANSING, N.Y. –– Mirabito, the energy company based out of Binghamton, is currently in the process of gaining approval to install three additional petroleum storage tanks on 15 Town Barn Road in Lansing, near the site of the propane tank that is already in place. The proposal has garnered concern from residents about safety and the future of industrialization.
This project, which may seem new, is not out of the blue –– as part of Lansing’s Planning Board initial conversations with Mirabito six years ago expansion was always part of the plan.
Now, conversations are happening that could make this plan a reality.
In the Planning Board meeting on May 24, Mirabito spoke with the town about its current plans for the tanks. In the current version of the plan, the tanks will be made out of fiberglass and constructed underground.
C.J. Randall, director of planning for Lansing, said the Planning Board had received the updated site plan on the previous Friday, May 21, and will send the project to the project review committee tonight, Thursday, June 3. She said she hoped the committee would give their feedback in time for the next Planning Board meeting on June 28.
Over the course of this beginning proposal stage, many have expressed concerns over the safety of the tanks.
In an interview with the Ithaca Voice Councilman Joseph Wetmore reiterated these concerns saying that because the tanks contain flammable liquid, they must be spaced far enough apart so that if one of them caught fire, the fire would not spread to the others, and that the site must also have sufficient fire protection in place.
“It’s a big petroleum storage facility, and I think residents are concerned about it for numerous reasons,” Wetmore said, “from safety issues, to just a question of how much do we want to, build more infrastructure that supports petroleum projects.”
Wetmore also reported that the tanks would likely be an eyesore for people who lived across the street from the houses, as would the lighting from the project area.
“You don’t want lights from this thing at night shining in people’s houses,” Wetmore said, “so you do what you can to minimize or exclude any of those externalities that would make the people who live there right now, their lives deteriorate in a way that it doesn’t have to..”
The project will also involve some trucks traveling over Lansing’s roads. According to Wetmore, the trucks, being much heavier than most motor vehicles, will cause significantly more wear and tear on the roads, and could contribute to rush hour traffic if they traveled to and from 15 Town Barn Road in the morning.
He added that the town’s Planning Board was doing an admirable job of hiring outside consultants to understand possible safety concerns and ensure the safety of Lansing residents and their property.
“That’s the whole point of site plan, is to go over and make sure that this particular site is designed in a way that is safest for all around,” Wetmore said, “and if it hits a certain level of ‘we can’t make it safe enough,’ then it wouldn’t be allowed.”
In light of concerns that seem to be shared by many, the onus of demonstrating the project’s safety in order to move forward will be on Mirabito. Planning director Randall however pointed out how the project could potentially be beneficial to Lansing, such as by potentially adding jobs or increasing tax revenue for that parcel, depending on how well Mirabito demonstrated the value of the project.
“There’s always a balance, of course, between public good and private property interests, of course,” Randall said. “It’s really incumbent on the applicants to show that benefit.”
Randall said that in addition to holding public hearings for residents to hear about the project and express concerns on February 22 and March 22, the Planning Board sent letters informing residents about the meetings, how they can attend and where they can find more information. She said the letters went out to residents who lived within 1,200 feet of the boundaries of the parcel on 15 Town Barn Road, which is twice as large as the usual range for such mailings.
Randall said only three residents attended the first public hearing to express their concerns about how safe the tanks would be, and a similar number attended the second hearing.
Concerned members of the public are encouraged to attend the town’s future meetings. The meetings are held via Zoom and streamed on YouTube, and those who wish to speak at privilege of the floor can contact the town for permission.
“We very much encourage people to stay tuned,” Randall said. “We post all of our agendas on the website there so they’re accessible, and, of course, we also invite people to view the meetings on YouTube and join in for the public comment as they wish to via Zoom.”