Points Of Opposition
Carvana was recently listed as a Fortune 500 company and that is great news (for them). Recently they have been looking for a plot of land to place their newest facility, a 200,000 square foot processing building and rejuvenation center. They will be using this facility to store used vehicles that have been purchased at auction and other smaller car dealerships. Upon arriving at this facility they are washed, detailed and repaired. They are then stored on site until purchased online, at which point the vehicle is loaded on a car hauler and taken from the facility. In theory this is all good and sounds like a great business plan, however there is a glaring issue with the location. That's where the opposition comes in.
They are looking to put this facility on one of the tobacco fields in the heart of our town! For those that do not know Southwick is a small farming and recreational town and does not contain any other business even remotely close to the size and scale of this proposal. Below are some of the facts we have obtained about this project and why we are in opposition.
1.) Water Usage
This is a very large one! Carvana stated at the June 29 planning board meeting that they would draw up to 25,000 gallons of water a day! They also stated that if there was an issue getting that water from the town water supply, they would drill wells. Wells in Southwick dry up all the time due to lack of rainfall, another side effect of simply drilling a well is you do not know who is using that well. Some of our town residents ONLY receive well water and are not in any way connected to the municipal water system. If Carvana drills into a well being used for this purpose any residents connected will have no water! For people that are on municipal water, they know there is a currently a moratorium on water usage as of last year and restrictions have been placed on water usage for for the majority of the last 5 years. Water usage is restricted to residences and fines are enforced on residents that exceed their water limits. It has also been stated at the water commission meeting that the town does not currently have the means to provide water for a project this large.
Since this property would ultimately end up being a storage area for both damaged and "rejuvenated" vehicles we MUST think about the real possibility of contamination to the soil, our water supplies, and neighboring properties due to runoff from rainwater and fluids seeping into the ground. It is rare to have a car leak no fluid at all, there will be an estimated 8,000 vehicles on this lot at any one time. Coolant, oil, fuel, and any solvents that are used on these vehicles during the time they are at this facility will have the possibility of seeping into the ground and causing major implications to the town of Southwick for the unforeseeable future.
3.) 200,000 sq ft building 137 acres of land
The proposal and their plans call for a 200,000 square foot 26' tall concrete building to be built on the property. The total footprint of the entire property would be 137 acres of which 67 acres would be paved over. Not only would this building be an eyesore for the town, as it is at minimum 3 times larger than any other industrial building in Southwick (or any buildings for that matter) they also would like to place all of this smack in the middle of prime farmland. As everyone knows, farmland is disappearing throughout the entire country at alarming rates due to industrialization. No farms means no food, we would like to preserve our farmland for future generations to enjoy. If we are not able to preserve the entire farm surely there would be something more beneficial that can be done with the land for the residents of Southwick.
4.) Traffic nightmares & infrastructure breakdown
We already have a lot of traffic to contend with in this small town as we get much traffic passing through from the surrounding towns since 10/202 is the main road. All residents and many that pass through know all too well how hard it is to make a left turn onto 202 now, I have personally had to wait upwards of 10 minutes to do just that. If this facility is allowed to be constructed there will be an additional 2,600+ vehicles making daily trips. These vehicles include those being test driven after being repaired, 600+ employees arriving/departing for the day as well as 90+ car haulers transporting vehicles to/from the facility daily. With the construction ongoing on the bridge to Westfield and the new rotary that was added in Granby, the only route the car haulers would be able to go is down Route 57 to Agawam. Crossing our bike path and passing all of our schools in the process. Also if there is another town event planned such as Motocross forget trying to get anywhere in town. There is also the next issue with wear and tear on our roads, by adding such a large number of vehicles to our road system this will need to lead to much faster wear and more maintenance.
5.) Light pollution
As with all business lighting is a must for security and operational safety. A facility such as this would need plenty of lighting, enough to make a huge impact to our night sky as well as provide issues to some of the wildlife in our town. Southwick residents are treated at night to a sky that is not saturated with light pollution, such as many of the surrounding towns, because of this we are able to see stars in our night sky when looking up. Reps for Carvana stated that they will be using energy efficient, downward facing LED's. While this is good for energy usage, this is not the issue that was raised. LED's also bring another issue that other light sources do not. LED's have been scientifically proven to cause a lot of electrical noise. This noise has been known to affect radio signals from devices such as communication radios, transmitters, WiFi routers, cell phones etc. Which would not have been an issue with other lighting. Also there is no way around the fact that there WILL be more light pollution with Carvana then there would be if Carvana was not here.
6.) Disaster preparedness questionable
Have you ever seen a car fire? Maybe you were driving down the highway or on a rural back road and passed a burning vehicle on the side of the road. Vehicle fires are among the most difficult fires to put out for many reasons which include fuel, electrical components, solvents, and of course the mostly plastic interiors and exterior panels that make up pretty much all vehicles today. Any one of these elements burning on their own would cause issues due to the toxins and pollutants being put into the air that we all would be breathing. Please picture this scenario for a moment. A small fire starts at Carvana in Southwick, it began due to a minor fault in one of the cars electrical systems. That car becomes fully engulfed in flames, it would not take long for the fire to spread to other vehicles on the lot since they would only be 1 to 2 feet apart. All the surrounding fire departments are called, they all make use of one of the 12 to 15 fire hydrants surrounding the property. They turn on the water and it drips out of the hoses. What is going on? There is no water pressure since it was stated earlier the water commission already mentioned that out current water system cannot support a project as large as Carvana. Worse case scenario, but it should be planned for. 8,000 vehicles would burn for a very long time (days to weeks). Not only would that be an ecological disaster but during that time Southwick residents would not have any access to water unless of course there is a well on a residents property.
7.) Very Shady Company
Carvana has been accused of insider trading (article here), have losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, their own annual report states they do not expect to male a profit for years to come. During a Save Southwick rally a fully wrapped Carvana car drove through the rally numerous times flipping the middle finger to the protestors and taking cell phone video while driving the car. This was picked up by the Westfield News here. Not only are they questionable as a company they do not care about Southwick or its wonderful community and will not do anything to improve Southwick.
If you would like to call the list above the cons to having Carvana in Southwick, we should probably list the pros as well. I have provided an extensive list of all the pros to having this company here.
1.) 600+ New Jobs
Carvana stated that they will be offering 600+ new jobs that would be available. These jobs would consist of mainly minimum wage jobs that are undesirable to residents of Southwick.
2.) $900,000 tax revenue
According to a Southwick Select Board member’s comments, Carvana could generate roughly $900,000 in tax revenue for the town on a yearly basis. While this may sound great at first we also need to consider the following. Due to the fact that Carvana is built we would need to employee more police, fire and medics. We would also need to do more maintenance on our roads due to the massive traffic from such a facility. In the end it would not be worth it and residents would never see a benefit to such a company in town.
Also, from our research, the highest amount of property tax collected by other jurisdications with Carvana facilities, is approximately $400,000. Carvana doesn’t pay the tax. Their landlord does. Carvana leases the properties used for the Inspection and Reconditioning Centers. The town would be assessing taxes to the, as yet, unnamed new owner of the properties and attempting to collect from them.
$900,000 vs $400,000 is quite a vast difference.
This is why we are opposed to Carvana coming to Southwick and why we feel you should be as well. If you are also opposed to Carvana coming here please feel free to donate to help with our cause or visit our Facebook page to find out how you can volunteer to assist your time to help us keep this dreadful company out of out beautiful town.