COLONIE — An Amazon last-mile delivery hub off Route 9 moved through the second step of the planning process last week after about an hour-long discussion.
The plan would renovate the now vacant Precision Valve Automation building on Mustang Drive to accommodate the 24-7 Amazon delivery operation. It would see some 14 tractor trailers come to the site loaded with packages from regional distribution sites like the one recently built in Rensselaer County.
Between 100 and 120 Amazon employees would unload the packages and then load them onto vans driven by about 150 independent contractors who would take them to their final destination, which is located within 45 minutes of the facility, Daniel Fuchs, the senior manager for entitlements at Amazon, told the Planning Board.
The tractor trailers and vans would enter and leave on a staggered schedule. The vans would leave the site — in shifts of 36 — between 10 and 11:30 a.m. and return between 7 and 9 p.m. The shifts are structured to avoid travel during the peak morning and afternoon travel times to avoid adding to the congestion and to make deliveries quicker by missing heavy traffic.
“Our operations clock is intentionally set to avoid morning and afternoon rush hours in the surrounding communities so we will not putting additional traffic on the road during those high travel peak hours of the day,” Fuchs said. “It is a typical operation for us. We have 100s of these throughout the country and we are developing 100s more.”
When the plan was initially proposed in March, three lots necessary to accommodate the operation would have been left separate. Under the latest iteration, the lots are combined to avoid the need for an Open Development Area, which is necessary for land not directly accessible to a major thoroughfare.
The PVA building constitutes some 10 acres of the site while the Birnie Bus site is about 6.8 acres on Green Mountain Drive and there is a little more than a half-acre of greenspace on Fonda Road.
All told, as proposed, the site plan falls below the required 35 percent of greenspace, said Joe Grasso, the Town Designated Engineer for the project. It would require a wavier and Amazon will need to pay mitigation fees, which are formulaic and in this instance would cost some $92,000.
Two other waivers are being requested: to allow parking in front of the building and to construct 40 less parking spaces than the square footage and building use dictates.
The Planning Board had concerns about keeping the van drivers off Falcon Road and making sure they instead use Fonda Road where there is a traffic signal at the intersection of Route 9.
“They are independent contractors but we do have some control and if they violate our rules and guideline they get points and too many points will impact their ability to work with us,” Fuchs said.
The nearest like facility is in Amsterdam. Amazon had proposed to build a last-mile facility off Central Avenue in the Village of Colonie but that plan fell through. The Business Review reported that Amazon will be leasing the building from PVA. Earlier this year, PVA announced it was moving about a four miles north to 6 Corporate Drive in Halfmoon, the former home to an indoor soccer facility.
It will need to come back before the Planning Board at least once more before construction can begin.