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Propane storage facility with nine 30,000 gallon tanks proposed for Kroemer Avenue

The Riverhead Planning Board opted last Thursday to delay a public hearing on a proposed propane storage facility, citing the need for more information.

“We just got the plans tonight. I haven’t even looked at these yet,” board chairman Stan Carey said as he called to table a resolution to schedule the hearing for Nov. 5.

Plans filed by Ray Dickhoff, on behalf of 48 Kroemer LLC, call for a 270,000-gallon liquid propane facility with nine 30,000-gallon tanks and a 26,448-square-foot industrial building on a four-acre property on Kroemer Avenue.

The facility would be allowed as a special permit use in the Industrial A zoning district, town officials said.

A key issue discussed during the board’s meeting was whether tractor trailer trucks would be able to navigate into the loading bays as the plans currently propose.

“It is really, really tight,” said town building and planning administrator Jeff Murphree, recommending that the plan be reconfigured to allow more room for circulation.

But Mr. Dickhoff said the designs aren’t intended for tractor trailer use. 

“It’s not the way we do business,” he said. 

Instead, Mr. Dickhoff explained that their own trucks, essentially pickup trucks with 12-foot beds, would use the loading docks to move tanks.

“It would be no problem whatsoever to back these trucks into that,” he said.

The facility would not be open to the public for retail or for refilling small barbecue tanks, he said.

According to Mr. Murphree, an existing building would be demolished and three abandoned railroad cars would be removed and donated to the railroad museum. “The subject property, for lack of a better word, is a mess at the moment,” he told the Planning Board.

Mr. Murphree also said the state Department of Environmental Conservation will require the developer to restore the northern third of the property with woods that have been cut down over the years.

A decorative stone wall and six-foot wrought iron fence proposed for the front of the property would need either to be reduced in height or to obtain a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals, he added.

In addition, town planners said they need more information on property screening, lighting, stormwater management and additional comments from the town’s fire marshal.

Architects also plan to revise a feature of the plans that currently shows Jersey barriers screening the propane tanks. Instead, said lead architect Martin Sendlewski, they’d like to construct more substantial concrete barriers that would be more visually appealing and also double as protection from vehicles on the site.

Planning Board member George Nunnaro asked if the fire marshal relayed any comments about putting a facility of this size in close proximity to a Paraco gas location.

“That’s a lot of propane between those two places right in that small area,” he said.

Mr. Sendlewski said the National Fire Protection Association has “extensive requirements” for such sites that will ultimately be reviewed by the fire marshal.

Mr. Carey also asked planners to look into how much propane is stored at the adjacent facility and recalled that Paraco was asked to spin their tanks to not face the property entrance. “[The fire marshal] wanted them spun so when the fire department had to go in they weren’t aimed right at the people going in there to fight any kind of emergency,” he said. “It appears to me that these tanks are facing almost in that direction.”

Mr. Sendlewski pushed back against the delay, noting that their application has already faced delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I don’t think these issues are of any consequence,” he said. “The purpose of a public hearing is to raise — ”

“Marty, we know what the purpose of a public hearing is and it’s our choice,” Mr. Carey broke in. “There are significant issues that need to be addressed and if these plans have to be revised for any of them, it’s a big change.”

Officials plan to meet with the fire marshal and, if the plans are updated in time, the project could be discussed again at the next Planning Board meeting Oct. 15.