Neighbors object to Hurley Bros plan to build propane facility on Old Military Road

The plot of land at 132 Old Military Road in Lake Placid where the Hurley Bros Inc. fuel company would like to install at 36,000-gallon propane storage tank is seen Thursday. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

LAKE PLACID — The Hurley Bros Inc. fuel company is looking to install a 36,000-gallon propane tank-filling station and possibly more on Old Military Road.

Hurley Bros’s 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.

“This isn’t a new venture,” co-owner Mike Hurley said. “The town does water, sewer and electric. It’s my job to provide fuel.”

The period for public comment is over, and the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board will meet to discuss and possibly decide whether to approve the project at the North Elba Town Hall Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Because Hurley Bros co-owner Bill Hurley is also chairman of the review board, he has recused himself from the decision.

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.

The land is still owned by Andre Karl. If the project is approved by the review board, Mike Hurley said he will purchase the land from Karl and the site work could begin this year, but the tank probably wouldn’t be installed until 2020.

Many residents of The Balsams submitted letters to the Lake Placid-North Elba Code Enforcement Office saying they disagreed with the project because of safety, traffic, noise and viewshed concerns.

David and Laura Cushing wrote, “A storage tank of that size is seemingly without certain potential safety risks. Will Hurley Bros provide information on what a ‘worst case’ scenario could be there was some type of accident, fire or explosion at the facility?”

Mike Hurley said the chances of a leak leading to a fire or an explosion are slim.

“We had an emergency engineer expert look it over, and the chances of something catching fire is one in 37 million,” he said. “There are backups all over to make sure nothing goes wrong.”

Linda and Bill Ainsworth wrote, “This propane storage facility location near the blind crest of the (Old Military Road) hill seems obviously dangerous for dealing with entering and exciting propane fuel trucks. Don’t tractor trailers often take wide turns frequently crossing into the other lane? Limited visibility and icy road surfaces on a hill in the winter? Athletes running and cycling along the road? Ambulance traffic to the new ER facility just down the road?”

Mike Hurley said it won’t be often that trucks will go in and out of the site.

“It’ll be empty 97% of the time,” he said. “It’ll be busier in the winter time, obviously, but we’ll do about 60 transports a year.”

In the proposal to the review board, he 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.”

In a letter on behalf of The Balsams at Lake Placid Homeowners Association, K. Jon Runstrom wrote, “Any lighting, the noise of construction and general truck traffic is certain to disturb the typically serene and tranquil nature of the Balsams.”

Photos submitted to the review board show how the propane tank could affect the viewshed from different angles. They were taken in the middle of the winter when vegetation is at its lowest. From the photos, the tanks can be seen from the woods near The Balsams, but trees block much of the site.

In regard to sound, Mike Hurley said his company checked what the decibels would be like at the filling station and said it shouldn’t sound much louder than a lawn mower to residents at The Balsams.

Though the tank is 36,000 gallons, Mike Hurley said it’s carrying capacity is 30,000.

“There are some sites that have seven or eight of these tanks,” he said. “This is small potatoes.”