Tommell is proposing a trucking terminal, says ZBA chair

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

New Scotland Zoning Board Chairman Jeffrey Baker said Tommell Livestock, LLC is no longer asking for a commercial garage, it’s asking for a trucking terminal.

NEW SCOTLAND — On Aug. 25, the zoning board here took a closer look at the request from Tommell Livestock, LLC to renew a use variance previously granted to the prior owner of the property, Charles Schufelt.

The zoning board denied the request last year so Tommell sued the board and the town’s building inspector, Jeremy Cramer. In July, after finding “no rational justification” for the board’s  “disparate treatment” of Tommell’s use-variance application, Albany County Acting Supreme Court Judge Kimberly O’Connor annulled and “remitted back to the Board for reconsideration” the application. 

As Jeffrey Baker, the zoning board’s chairman, read the description of the action, he said what stood out was that the board “was kind of missing the point here.”

The application was no longer a renewal of the use variance it had previously granted Schufelt because what Tommell was proposing was not just a commercial public garage that Shufelt had wanted.

Baker said the company is instead proposing to use the property as its primary location for business — for it to be the place where all of its vehicles will be kept; where the company will make its runs from, as it does its normal business of transporting agricultural materials and livestock. These uses would be in addition to operating the public garage.

What Tommell is proposing, Baker said, “Is a different animal.”

The scale and scope of Tommell’s operation were the issue, Baker said, stating that both were far larger than what was originally proposed. When Shufelt was granted the use variance, it was limited in its scope to only a few employees and a limited number of vehicles that would be stored there.

Shufelt’s use variance said only four vehicles could be kept outside the garage; Tommell expects to store eight to 12 of its vehicles on the property.

Baker said what Tommell was proposing was effectively a trucking terminal. 

A public garage and trucking terminal both have definitions in New Scotlands’ zoning code, Cramer said. 

A trucking terminal, according to the code, is “an assemblage area for trucks with or without facilities for maintenance or repair, or with or without structures to support the transfer (loading and unloading) of materials or goods for delivery to other sites or for customer pickup.” 

The trucking terminal definition fits better with the intended use of what Tommell was proposing, Cramer said, as opposed to the public garage, which is strictly for the repair of vehicles. 

Among the things Baker told the Tommells’ lawyer he is looking for at the next meeting are a list of all DMV-registered vehicles that would be kept at the site; the business’s hours of operation; the number of employees working at the shop; and a site plan where everything will be located, including berms for stormwater control.


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