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April 4, 2013

 

Yogurt plant gets final approval

Construction expected to begin in June as town grants aquifer permit

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

CORTLANDVILLE — Citing a lack of negative environmental impacts, the Town Board granted an aquifer protection permit Wednesday for the Byrne Dairy yogurt plant, the final approval before ground-breaking in June.
The town reviewed a past State Environmental Quality Review form, which guides any development in the park. No further SEQR was needed for approval of the first phase of construction since it would not use more than the 115,000 gallons of water a day allowed in the SEQR for the park.
Town Attorney John Folmer read off a list of findings by the Cortland County Industrial Development Agency in February 2006, as the lead agency for the SEQR form.
This was the initial study for the industrial park when it was first conceived so there was nothing standing in the way of granting an aquifer protection permit Wednesday, town officials concluded.
The board also had a public hearing on a $750,000 state Economic Development Community Development Block Grant that is expected to be awarded in coming months for equipment costs at the plant.
Thoma Development Program Manager Ann Hotchkin said the town has had success receiving these grants. The $750,000 is the maximum amount that can be applied for. The town is also providing a $180,000 loan toward the project out of the town’s community development fund. This is a revolving loan fund that the town has from the payback of interest on past loans for other projects.
Cortlandville Town Supervisor Dick Tupper said Cortlandville is lucky to have the $30 million plant in the community and praised Byrne Dairy for handling issues and answering questions as they arose, moving the process along quickly.
The SEQR findings show that there are no significant impacts to the land, the nearby protected bog owned by Lime Hollow Nature Center or any protected waterways, among other things. Since the land is designated for an industrial park, the project does not impact open spaces, agricultural land or the quality of the community, Folmer said.
The approval carries with it the expectation that Byrne Dairy will address issues like increased water usage and stormwater management, in future phases of the project.
Tupper said that since in the future the plant could possibly exceed the permitted 1 million gallons of water taken out of the aquifer daily, Byrne Dairy would have to eventually apply to raise that limit. Also, road ownership issues have to be worked out since it is a town road and Cortlandville will likely turn stormwater management over to Byrne Dairy.
“When they finally get started on construction we’ll sit down and talk about the road and whether we should own the road,” Tupper said.
Byrne Dairy general counsel Jim Goshier said he expects with ground-breaking in June the plant could be producing yogurt by the end of this year. He said he was pleased the town was acting as a sponsor for the community development funds.
The money would largely go toward purchasing equipment at the plant, which total about $16 million.
A 40,000-square-foot yogurt plant, a 10,000-square-foot cheese plant and a 10,000-square-foot agritourism center will be built in the first phase as well as an amphitheater.
Goshier said 78 positions would be created in the first three years, not including about 20 more agritourism jobs.

 

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