Irene stalls Ephratah’s bottler’s construction plans

Damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene throughout the state has stalled the permit approval process f

Damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene throughout the state has stalled the permit approval process for a water bottling plant proposed in the town of Ephratah.

Construction of the two 100,000-square-foot buildings is on hold as town and village officials wait for completion of a state Environmental Quality Review process and approval at the state level of other pending permits.

“A couple of the state agencies we have to get permits from are basically right now dedicating all of their efforts toward the floods,” said Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz. “And everyone understands and supports that. Unfortunately there is a consequence to that. The time frame for these applications to be reviewed is being set back a bit.”

California-based CG Roxane proposed in December to build the $20 million project on 30 acres off Old State and Murray Hill roads in the town of Ephratah. The company is in talks to purchase land surrounding the village of Canajoharie’s watershed for the plant, which could provide about $300,000 to $500,000 in revenues every year to the village.

A public hearing scheduled for Wednesday night in Canajoharie was canceled because the necessary paperwork at the state and local levels hadn’t come through in time, said village Mayor Francis Avery.

“The floods tended to slow down everything,” Avery said. “We were not affected, but obviously the [state Department of Environmental Conservation] and engineers have to deal with flood-related issued first.”

Fulton County officials asked Sen. Charles Schumer in early August for help in securing a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Northern Border Regional Commission that would help pay for necessary infrastructure revamps before the project could move forward.

CG Roxane needs to widen a half-mile stretch of road from the proposed plant site out to Route 29 to allow for approximately 25 truck shipments during the daytime as well as employee and supplier traffic. It also needs to widen a bridge that goes over the road and reconstruct the intersection of Old State and Murray Hill roads, Mraz said.

“This has been approved by the town, but it still needs approval from [the state Department of Transportation],” he said. “As you can imagine that’s a lot of money to complete those improvements and that is the basis of that application to help fund that cost.”

Mraz said the county filed the grant application at the end of August and sent a copy to Schumer’s office.

The commission awards grants to projects in northern counties in four states intended to alleviate economic distress and create jobs. The county will hear whether it qualifies for those funds some time next month.

The CG Roxane plant would create an estimated 34 jobs in the region, with that number increasing as production and sales increase, said Mraz.

Also awaiting completion is a state Environmental Quality Review by the town of Ephratah Planning Board, which is serving as lead agency for the project review.

Mraz said he expects the process to wrap up by the Planning Board’s October meeting.

The project requires a number of permits and approvals before construction can begin, including a state DOT highway work permit, historic resources survey, a bottled water permit from the state Department of Health, a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, and permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Mraz said the permits will be issued once the SEQR is complete.

Avery said he is unsure when a public hearing will be held now. Once paperwork goes through at the state level, he said he will know more.

“Everything is progressing nicely,” Avery said. “But we just have to wait because obviously the other people affected by the storm have to come first.”

CG Roxane Executive Vice President Page Beykpour was traveling Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

Town and village officials previously had worked with company owner and president Rick Moore, who resigned Sept. 12, according to his office.

Categories: Schenectady County

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