Early Bull stone house will be preserved 'Stop industrial creep': Hamptonburg Town Board disappoints developers seeking industrial zone for warehouse project
Hamptonburgh promised that the 18th-century Booth house, pictured, will be spared in any development plan (Photo by Ginny Privitar)
By Ginny Privitar HAMPTONBURG — Local historians and members of the Bull Family are concerned about an early stone building on a property in Hamptonburgh, next to a site being rezoned to accommodate warehouses. Members of the Hamptonburg town board confirmed their intention to spare the 18th-century Booth house in any development plan. One member did note that the house was in a dilapidated condition. Councilman Marcus Horrego said the board had received letters from historians, "but they're not here." After the meeting, one resident, farmer Tom Owens, said, “I have no problem with warehouses.” He said he would much prefer the warehouse to a housing development, but that was the minority view at the meeting. The audience cheered the board's decision and thanked members after the meeting was adjourned. The stone house was built by William Bull, who arrived in Orange County in 1715 and was married to its first settler, Sarah Wells. This year is the 300th anniversary of the wedding of William Bull and Sarah Wells wedding — the first settler wedding in the area. Bull, a mason, built the stone house for his in-laws, Charles and Mary Booth, in 1740. Bull also built Knox's Headquarters in Vails Gate, which was used in the Revolutionary War. Booth came to Orange County from an early settlement on Long Island. Three of the Booth children married three of the Bull children, and the descendants of both families are still in the county today. The Bull Stone House in Hamptonburgh is the original family homestead, also constructed by master builder William Bull, and now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The Booth homestead was documented in 1975 by the New York State historic preservation division of the park system as a house in danger of threat by developers. A stop to industryThe Green Acres Development Group sought to rezone to industrial use 92 acres out 300 located across Route 416 from Thomas Bull Memorial Park. Nearby are other warehouses and businesses in an existing industrial zone, including McKesson, Carlisle and PharmaCann. Medline Industries, a hospital supply company that has outgrown its present facility in Wawayanda, would be a tenant in the 1.2-million-square-foot warehouse on the 92-acre parcel. The developer presented plans showing a reduced build area from previous plans. It would preserve 268 "green forever" acres of the total 300, he said, and the owner, Zvi Siegel, would turn the preserved land back to the township. They hoped to have the town board start the process and then refer them to the planning board to begin the environmental review. They said the warehouse, a clean facility, would be buffered on three sides by land and, where necessary, an 18-foot berm topped by trees. The parcel is bounded by Route 416 on the west and a current industrial zone on the north, and heads toward Quarry Road on the south side. The advocates for Medline stressed that it would be a low-impact facility that would bring revenue to the township, as well as 200 more jobs. A housing development would cost more in services, they argued. Town Supervisor Bob Jankowski had earlier told The Chronicle that, under the revised plan, the Booth house would be preserved and access to it improved. He made a motion to rezone the 92-acre portion from residential to industrial, but it was not seconded. Most of the audience clapped and cheered. Disappointed, the developers and associates asked that the town just look into their plans and hold to promises they made during the environmental quality review phase. Jankowski asked his fellow board members if any had a change of heart, and all said no. "The benefits to the town have become greater along the way" over the original plan," Jankowski said, "but the board's position has solidified greater and greater along the way" against the project. Again there was cheering and clapping from the residents, some of whom wore green "Stop Industrial Creep" signs. Jankowski said he took most interest in what the residents of Quarry Road had to say, because they would be most affected. Some residents complained about noise and trash from warehouses, while others said they heard nothing. Most were against more industry in residential areas. Board members reflected the view of their constituents. Councilman Richard Cocchiara said he was concerned that, if Medline outgrew its facility in another 10 years, what would move in there then?