Explosive reaction to propane tank proposal in Lake Placid

Lake Placid police attend a North Elba Joint Review Board meeting Wednesday at the town hall to make sure the crowd stayed civil during a meeting about a propane tank proposal. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

LAKE PLACID — The Hurley Bros Inc. proposal to install a 36,000-gallon propane storage-filling station on Old Military Road has been met with plenty of negative reactions from residents in that neighborhood.

About 40 concerned, some furious, locals showed up to the North Elba Joint Review Board meeting Wednesday to air their grievances. It wasn’t a public hearing, but many people gave their input and raised their voices, saying the propane tank would create dangerous traffic and infrastructure issues, disrupt the viewshed, produce too much noise and be disrespectful to the adjacent Lake Placid Synagogue Cemetery.

The proposal

Hurley Bros’ plan is to build a storage tank 53 feet long and 11 feet in diameter to have their own propane filling station. Right now, they rent propane tanks at a Hyde Fuel facility in Ray Brook and have only oil tanks at their location on Station Street in Lake Placid. The project would also include cutting down a few trees, laying a gravel road and building a 6-foot by 8-foot mini barn to house electrical panels. Hurley Bros could add more tanks in the future, but that’s not part of the current plan.

Nearly 40 people show up to a North Elba Joint Review Board public meeting Wednesday at the North Elba Town Hall, many in protest against Hurley Bros Inc. proposal to build and propane storage-filling station on Old Military road. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

The plot of land is at 132 Old Military Road, next to the Lake Placid Synagogue Cemetery and adjacent to The Balsams, a community of condominiums. The tank itself would be 80 feet from The Balsams property line. According to the Lake Placid-North Elba land use code, fuel sale and storage is allowed in the Old Military Corridor as long as it gets board approval.

Hurley Bros co-owner Bill Hurley is also chairman of the review board, so he has recused himself from the decision making. His brother, Mike Hurley, is leading the proposal.

Joint Review

The board didn’t make any decisions Wednesday night. Instead, they discussed the propane tank in regard to the State Environmental Quality Review Act. They reviewed a list of questions as to how the propane tank would affect environmental aspects such as noise, viewshed, water quality and plant and animal life. Acting Chairman Chip Bissell said the next steps would likely be getting input from the state Department of Transportation and a letter from the local fire department, saying they could handle any accidents at the site.

During the meeting, Bissell brought up the 2011 revision of the North Elba Land Code, saying the town worked on it for years, and he wished the public had more concern in its creation, because it seems not many people agree with it.

Public comment

There was a public hearing on the matter March 6. Few attended. People can still send in letters to the North Elba Building Department, but the period for public comment is closed. Some folks at Wednesday’s meeting said all the planning for this project was done in secret and behind closed doors. However, a notice was published in the Feb. 21 edition of the Enterprise, and the review board’s calendar is available at northelba.org.

One long-time resident, Anthony Lawrence, of Bear Cub Road, became angry with the whole project.

“We had a public hearing a month ago,” Bissell said.

“I don’t care what you did in secret,” Lawrence responded.

“It wasn’t in secret. It was in the paper,” Bissell said.

“I never got any notice. I’ve been a life-long resident there, and I never got any proper notice,” Lawrence said.

In a phone interview Thursday, Lawrence said, “I complain about things.

“If there’s not a public protest then the process will slide through and be a detriment to the neighborhood.”

Lawrence, who said he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the gas industry, said this is one of the worst proposals he’s heard in his lifetime.

“I’m not opposed to the Hurley Bros expanding, but there’s got to be other sites that could work better.”


In a previous article, Mike Hurley responded to many of the concerns locals had. He said an emergency engineer expert looked over the plans for the tank and that there was a one in 37 million chance of something catching fire.

“There are backups all over to make sure nothing goes wrong,” he said.

In regard to traffic, Mike Hurley said the site will be empty 97% of the time, In the proposal to the board, Mike Hurley wrote, “Currently we receive 50 tractor-trailer loads a year, usually between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., but on occasion later into the evening. We load between 280 and 300 bobtails a year between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. during busy times. Normally not after 5 p.m.”

If the project is approved, Mike Hurley said tractor-trailers would make deliveries once a week in the summertime, but more frequently in the winter.

“That hill is dangerous. Everybody knows that hill is dangerous,” Lawrence said at the meeting. “It’s still as dangerous today as it was back in 1950. It is a hazard, and there is going to be a massive wreck there if trucks are coming and going from that location. That is insane. It’s absolutely insane — an insane asylum.”

At one point, the board suggested Lawrence lower his voice or they would have to call the police.

“Send the police up here and have them arrest me,” he said.

Five village police officers showed up after that, but no action was required and Lawrence left shortly thereafter.

As for the viewshed and noise concerns, during Wednesday’s meeting, Mike Hurley said the noise when the propane tank is being filled or filling a truck will be as loud as a lawnmower, around 88 to 91 decibels. Pictures were provided to the board with renderings of what the tank would look like, mostly covered by trees from the woods by The Balsams. However, folks who live on the second floor still had problems with it.

Mike Hurley said he wasn’t sure how many people live at The Balsams year round, but he didn’t expect many to be in town during the winter. A couple of people in the audience raised their hands and said, “full-time resident.”

Melissa Furnia, a local volunteer EMT, doesn’t live on Old Military Road, but her parents do.

“My parents live on the hill, the middle part of the hill. It’s a blind spot,” she said. “Big trucks are already coming in doing 50 (mph) up that hill and come down, and when you try to pull out, I don’t know if anyone else lives on that hill, it’s like, ‘Please, sweet Jesus, get me out of here.'”

Furnia also works on the medical crew at the Olympic Jumping Complex.

“A lot of kids all summer, spring and fall on their little, tiny skis — they train up and down. They go all the way from the (Olympic Training Center) to the John Brown Farm. That’s the loop that they do. They’re running. It’s early. It’s at night. It’s all over the place, and to have big trucks — I don’t care about the decibels. I don’t give a sh#t about that. I’m talking about the safety aspect.”

Mike Hurley didn’t provide any further comments after the meeting.