Hearing held on Beech-Nut plans

One person offered comment during a public hearing Tuesday regarding financial incentives the Montgo

One person offered comment during a public hearing Tuesday regarding financial incentives the Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency is offering the Hero Group to build a new Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp. baby food factory in the Florida Business Park.

The IDA is offering a total of $80.93 million worth of incentives for the Switzerland-based Hero Corp. to build an estimated $124.8 million plant that will house an approximately 600,000-square-foot state-of-the-art manufacturing operation and 35,000 square feet of corporate offices at the site west of the Target Distribution center.

Fred Miller, executive director at the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission, said he supported the initiative to preserve about 350 jobs in the county. Nearly 335 workers are employed at the Canajoharie plant and about 20 more at a warehouse operation in Fort Plain, which would also relocate to Florida under the plan. Beech-Nut also anticipates creating 135 new positions at the Florida plant, which officials hope to open by 2010.

But Miller, who runs an agency responsible for thousands of dollars in historic restoration of Canajoharie buildings, asked officials to keep in mind the village, which would lose the jobs and activity when Beech-Nut departs.

“We also strongly support the stabilization of the village of Canajoharie,” Miller said.

The incentives include a 20-year payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, agreement, tax breaks through the Amsterdam-Florida-Glen Empire Zone and low interest loans, according to an outline of project costs and incentives from the county’s Economic Development office.

The PILOT agreement would relieve the company from paying $2.5 million in property taxes for the first 13 years through rebates from the county IDA and from the state.

During each of the remaining seven years of the agreement, Montgomery County would receive $976,000, the Greater Amsterdam School District would receive $1.464 million and the town of Florida would receive $60,000, according to a draft PILOT agreement.

Montgomery County Economic Development Director Ken Rose said the Hero Corp. is spending at least $100 million on the project.

Several permits and approvals are required before construction can start.

The project requires site plan approval from the town of Florida Planning Board, which hired C.T. Male Associates P.C. of Latham to review the site plan and a subdivision request. The town’s consultants, in correspondence on the site plan, asked that more technical detail be included in the plans and requested a draft spill prevention control and countermeasures plan be submitted.

The consultants also requested data to demonstrate the sufficiency of a proposed storm water management system.

Rose said responses to the town’s request were sent this week for review by the town.

The project also requires permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Rose said meetings are being held this and next week with the DEC to discuss changes in the habitat management plan related to endangered and threatened species.

The public comment period for the U.S. Army Corps of engineers’ Clean Water Act permit ended Monday. The agency reviews public comment before deciding whether to conduct a public hearing on the project before issuing a permit.

The project will also require permits from the state Department of Health and the city of Amsterdam for water and sewer services. Rose said the permits can be obtained based on engineering plans for the water and sewer extensions.

Funding for the water and sewer service extension has not been secured yet for the project, Rose said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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