Village looks to sue over loss of plant

The village Board of Trustees is considering the possibility of bringig a lawsuit in an effort to ge

The village Board of Trustees is considering the possibility of bringig a lawsuit in an effort to get some formal agreement that would help the village after Beech-Nut moves its operations to the town of Florida.

Trustee and Deputy Mayor Jeffrey Baker said he isn’t sure who the lawsuit would be against yet. The trustees authorized village attorney Norman Mastromoro to gather information for the possibility of filing an Article 78 lawsuit.

Hero Corp., which owns Beech-Nut, has already received the approvals and broken ground on a 550,000-square-foot plant in the Florida Business Park.

Beech-Nut is receiving more than $100 million in state incentives, but Baker contends that none of that money will be used to help Canajoharie.

Baker said while politicians have promised that Canajoharie will be taken care of, he wants to see some formal agreement in writing.

“We have nothing in writing,” he said. “We haven’t been guaranteed anything.”

The village has hired Delaware Engineering of Albany to determine the financial impact on the village once Beech-Nut leaves.

Baker said the village built a water and wastewater treatment facility to accommodate Beech-Nut’s needs. He said Beech Nut uses between 60 and 70 percent of the village’s water.

He said there is still debt left on the infrastructure, which will cause village residents’ taxes to increase once the company leaves. He also anticipates that some workers at the water and wastewater treatment plants will lose their jobs.

School taxes will also be affected. Baker estimates that the residents will have to absorb about $186,000 per year for school taxes.

“Whoever makes these decisions have decided that it would be beneficial for everyone to move Beech-Nut, and I understand that,” he said. “I agree that part of the county will benefit, just not this part.”

An Article 78 lawsuit is a civil proceeding brought against a municipal officer, body or agency to challenge a decision.

Mastromoro said in this case, the village would probably argue that the environmental impact statement should not have been accepted because it didn’t fully identify the adverse economic and social impacts Beech-Nut’s move would have on Canajoharie.

“We know that by environmental impact we mean more than just air and water but also economic and social impacts,” Mastromoro said.

The impact statement was accepted on April 22 by the Florida Planning Board, which acted as lead agency on the project.

“The citizens of Canajoharie and the board all want the same thing,” Mastromoro said. “This has been a long-term marriage that is breaking up, and there should be some sort of alimony or maintenance payment.”

Ken Rose, director of Montgomery County planning and development, said he has been advised not to comment on this issue.

Mastromoro said he is waiting to file anything until after Tuesday’s meeting of the village trustees.

Categories: Schenectady County

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