Residents who live near the old Newton Airport on Stickles Pond Road are concerned that the auto auction and storage business that may potentially be built on the property will have major environmental, societal, and vehicular impact on their neighborhood. The land, which is listed on Andover Township tax maps as 248 Stickles Pond Rd., Block 151, Lot 21, is within the C-1 commercial zone for the town but has been empty and in regular disuse for some years, having most recently been used a staging area for major storm response following Superstorm Sandy. If approved, the property would become the newest location for national auto parts recovery and storage business, Copart.
Eileen Ibranyi is a long-time resident who resides directly across the street from the defunct airstrip, and she is rallying her neighbors to join her in protesting the auto yard.
“This is not a good use of such pristine land,” Ibranyi said. “It’s right near the Pequest, and what if these cars leak oil and gas and fluids? Wouldn’t the land be better used for a park or a solar farm or something else of value to the community?”
Ibranyi and many of her neighbors have taken to social media to gather support for their protest. Ibranyi has even started a petition to bring with her to the Andover Township Land Use Board, which was originally scheduled to hold a public hearing on the matter at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17 at the municipal building. The hearing has since been postponed, and a notice on the Andover Township website encourages residents to check back after next week, when a new date will be determined and posted.
Before the postponement was announced, Ibranyi expressed frustration over what she and others think was a rush to push the proposal through.
“I feel like they aren’t giving us enough time to prepare a defense, and they know that people like to celebrate St. Pat’s with their families; we have a lot of people of Irish heritage in the area,” Ibranyi said last week. “But we’re going to show them there’s strength in numbers. We need to tell them this is not the sort of activity we want in our neighborhood.”
According to a letter sent by attorney William Haggerty, who is representing the BHT Properties Group, applications have been made to the township to clear the land of all existing structures, put in asphalt access roads, and construct an automobile storage facility on the site. The runway would remain untouched for use as a road through the facility. All applications, site plans, and related paperwork are available for view at the town hall.
Citing additional concerns an increase in traffic on what’s already a busy road, and fear that such a large commercial auto operation would invite theft and lower property values, Ibranyi is urging all opposed to the auto auction to get in touch with her to sign the petition. She can be reached via email at Eileen@ibranyi.com.
Ibranyi said she believed that the postponement was due to the town being flooded with complaints and being unsure if they would need to move the venue of the meeting to accommodate all those that want to attend the hearing, whenever it is rescheduled.
“We need people to sign the petition and go to the meeting,” Ibranyi said. “We want the town to realize that what they’re gaining in taxes, they’re losing in value.”