Project’s impact on town studied

A weekly bird survey is ongoing as part of the permitting process for Beech-Nut’s plans to build a n
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A weekly bird survey is ongoing as part of the permitting process for Beech-Nut’s plans to build a new baby food processing facility in the Florida Business Park in Montgomery County.

Several documents are now publicly available detailing the potential impact of the project, and a public hearing is scheduled for early next month on the new Beech-Nut factory’s potential impact.

County Economic Development Director Ken Rose said the draft environmental impact statement prepared for the project is available on the Web site of the Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency at www.mcida.org.

According to the DEIS, there are two rare or endangered species that could make use of the proposed site off state Route 5S adjacent to the Target Distribution Center.

Department of Environmental Conservation personnel spotted a Northern Harrier at the site during an October 2007 field visit, according to the documents.

A spokesman for the DEC could not be reached for comment Monday.

The DEC also raised concerns about the possible presence of the Short-eared Owl, another species considered threatened in New York, which lives in similar terrain as the Northern Harrier, a type of hawk.

Both the Northern Harrier and the Short-eared Owl are among subjects of a joint project between Audubon NY and the DEC. A landowner incentive program being operated in specific areas statewide is set to pay landowners not to mow their grasslands until late in the fall to help these birds lay eggs in the grass.

The local bird survey, which entails weekly site visits by biologists, is under way to determine the extent of impact on the threatened birds’ habitat at the site, according to the SDEIS. Any mitigation efforts required will depend on the results of that study, according to the report.

A public hearing is scheduled on the supplemental draft environmental impact statement, or SDEIS, for Feb. 2 in Florida Town Hall, Rose said. The time of the meeting was not yet announced Monday.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation, one of several regulating agencies reviewing the project, is asking for public input by Feb. 15.

The DEIS, prepared by Clough Harbour & Associates LLP of Syracuse, reviews potential environmental impacts on wetlands, traffic, air quality, noise, community services, utilities and infrastructure and cultural resources.

Traffic studies estimate the facility would generate 168 trips to the facility between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., and 336 trips between 3:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. According to the SDEIS, the traffic levels are not expected to require improvements or mitigation.

No air quality or odor emissions above governmentally acceptable guidelines are expected from food production at the facility. In terms of noise, the factory is projected to produce sound levels rated at 4, two units below the state DEC’s goal of 6, according to the SDEIS.

The new Beech-Nut facility is expected to use about 881,744 gallons of water per day and produce 477,028 gallons of wastewater daily. The new water usage represents a reduction of 114,000 gallons daily compared to the current facility in Canajoharie, according to the SDEIS.

A historic resource investigation of the site turned up no archaeological resources, according to the SDEIS.

In terms of being able to see the plant once it’s built, the greatest impact would be to the Mohawk Hills subdivision, a new housing development located just to the east of the proposed project.

Light-reduction lighting fixtures and trees and other plants will be used along the property line to reduce the ability for neighbors to see the facility, according to the SDEIS.

Truck traffic will increase during construction as materials and contractors go in and out, and the project will require heavy machinery for site clearing, grading, building construction, paving and landscaping, according to the SDEIS.

Sweeping, cleaning and watering will take place to minimize “airborne fugitive dust” that would be created during construction, according to the impact statement.

The lead agency for the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement is the Town of Florida Planning Board, which will announce a Feb. 4 public hearing. Details on the hearing were not immediately available Monday.

The Department of Environmental Conservation is reviewing the project for permits related to air quality, water supply, wetlands and clean water act water quality certification, according to DEC spokesman Rick Georgeson.

Copies of application materials can be found within the DEIS and also at the Florida Town Hall, Amsterdam Free Library and Fort Hunter Free Library, according to the DEC.

These documents can also be accessed on the Internet at www.cha-llp.com/beechnuteis.

People looking to comment to the DEC on the project are asked to submit comments in writing to the following address: James J. Eldred, NYSDEC Region 4 Headquarters, 1130 North Wescott Road, Schenectady, NY 12306.

Categories: Schenectady County

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