Schenectady County

Distributor drops plan for center

McLane Food Service Inc. has scrapped plans to build a distribution center proposed for 27 acres str

McLane Food Service Inc. has scrapped plans to build a distribution center proposed for 27 acres straddling the towns of Rotterdam and Princetown, citing overall project delays and a recent economic downtrend.

Members of the Princetown Planning Board were expected to address the project’s site plan, special use permit and subdivision applications Thursday when they received notification the company had canceled its plans. Planning Board Chairwoman Patricia Bishop said the notification came through project engineer Joe Bianchine of ABD Engineers after the town requested McLane address several concerns raised by area residents.

“They just said that at this time they were canceling the project,” she said Friday. “We were all surprised.”

McLane’s had proposed moving its distribution center in Guilderland to a 168,000-square-foot facility they proposed to build on a former gravel pit off Feuz Road. Bart McKay, a spokesman for McLane, said the project faced delays on several levels that made building a new distribution center unfeasible.

“The added cost associated with enduring these delays was not one we wanted to bear,” he said. McKay said the company hasn’t decided whether it will move the project to another location or if it will be abandoned altogether. He said the need for additional space forecast when the project was proposed in 2005 didn’t seem as imminent given recent economic trends.

“Certainly for the time being, we’ll stay where we are,” he said.

The project had already received all its necessary approvals from Rotterdam and was awaiting a decision from Princetown. Rotterdam Planning Board Chairman Lawrence DiLallo expressed dismay the company pulled its application altogether, rather than complete the process they started nearly three years ago.

“They were so very close,” he said.

DiLallo said many of the conditional approvals granted for the project, such as the property’s change of zoning, will likely become null. Developer Robert Iovinella would have to bring in a project to the area nearly identical to McLane’s, according to DiLallo. “[The zoning change] applies specifically to McLane’s project,” he said.

Iovinella first proposed the project nearly three years ago on 15 acres in Rotterdam and 12 acres in Princetown. The project would have significantly expanded the company’s storage space and included a 12,800-square-foot truck repair building.

McLane distributes mainly to fast food companies such as Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Long John Silver’s. The company now employs about 135 workers at its Guilderland plant and intended to add up to 40 more jobs after the expansion project was completed

But many residents living in the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed site argued a 24-hour seven-day distribution center would disrupt their quality of life. Others feared the large volume of truck traffic brought by the development would create a dangerous situation at the nearby Interstate 88 interchange.

Issues with runoff from the company also generated complaints from residents. Some worried such a large project operating on a septic system could both exacerbate ground water issues in the area, as well as create runoff problems in the nearby Normans Kill.

Mariana Lawler, a resident of the Country Walk Estates, was glad to hear McLane had pulled their plans. She said the project simply didn’t fit the character of the area.

“It was just an inappropriate use for the land it was going to be placed on,” she said Friday. “In another place, where there were more industrial buildings and it wasn’t so residential, I’m sure it would have been fine.”

Supervisor Steve Tommasone said the failed project shows the need for Rotterdam to continue its push to establish infrastructure and planning for the area. Had a sewer line and the proper zoning been in place, he said the time needed to pass such project would have been significantly shorter.

“Perhaps it would have been planned differently from the outset,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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