After street protests against ‘awful’ trucking warehouse plan, Newtown reserves movie theater for audience


NEWTOWN – The Edmond City Hall theater seats 500 people, and while planners don’t expect many residents to show up Thursday for a hearing on an 8-mile trucking warehouse proposal acres, leaders want to be ready after a week of street protests.

“It’s the biggest thing to ever hit Newtown – it’s a massive, massive project,” said Donald Leonard, a volunteer organizer who helped collect 500 names on a petition and mobilized 200 people to participate in a public hearing on the trucking warehouse in April. Leonard is also behind a series of protests this week on Main Street and at the site of the proposed warehouse.

“To put this in the middle of a residential neighborhood ignores the fact that there are serious impacts on all residents who live in the area,” Leonard said. “We are trying to fight back. We don’t want that in our garden.

Leonard refers to plans by a Manhattan-based investor to build a 345,000 square foot trucking warehouse on 105 acres at Exit 9 of Interstate 84 that would include 75 truck docks, 50 trailer bays and 360 parking spaces. Wharton Industrial’s proposal to build on the environmentally sensitive site received a permit in March from the Newtown Wetlands Commission.

The final step in the approval process involves review by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, which will continue its public hearing on the warehouse proposal in an unusual location – the City Hall Theater in ‘Edmond on Main Street.

“It’s been in the papers a lot and the awareness is there. It’s a big project,” said George Benson, Newtown’s planning director. “It’s something we expect people to come out for. We did not expect so much. »

A resident who lives on Woods Lane near the proposed warehouse said it was clear why many of his fellow Newtowners oppose the plan.

“It’s a horrible proposition,” Ken Breen said. “Wharton can’t tell us how many trucks there will be…and their traffic study was done during the pandemic.”

Wharton’s consultants, meanwhile, say the warehouse proposal is “considerably less intense than virtually any other previous proposal on this site.”

A Wharton traffic consultant told a crowd of naysayers at a public hearing in mid-April that 59 vehicle trips would be added to the Hawleyville Road site during the morning rush hour, and 66 new trips by car and truck would be added to Hawleyville Road during evening rush hours. .

An independent consultant hired by Newtown to review Wharton’s traffic study is expected to report on Thursday.

Wharton’s consultants added that the developer would install an 8ft by 300ft noise fence at the southern boundary of the property, and that “no adverse acoustic impact is expected from this project”.

The grassroots group Leonard helped form, Newtown Neighbors, disagrees. The group hired its own attorney and an engineering consultant to challenge Wharton’s plans. The group held rallies to get their message out to other residents, including a rally outside Edmond Town Hall on Saturday that drew 100 people.

“We would ask the Planning and Zoning Commission to deny the application due to traffic, lack of emergency services, noise, light pollution and environmental impact,” Leonard said. “We don’t want them looking for a way to reduce it – we just don’t want to, period.”

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