Schenectady County

Food supplier revives Rotterdam warehouse proposal

McLane Food Service’s proposal to build a massive 168,000-square-foot warehouse near Thruway Exit 25

McLane Food Service’s proposal to build a massive 168,000-square-foot warehouse near Thruway Exit 25A could be actively pursued again, but only if Princetown renews a special-use permit set to expire at the end of the month.

The food distributor that supplies fast-food companies such as Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Long John Silver’s is again exploring options to build a warehouse on property that it has the right to purchase. Right now, the company’s main base of operation in the Capital Region is in space leased from the Galesi Group at the Northeastern Industrial Park in Guilderland.

But the company’s lease with Galesi expires in 2015. And the 105,000-square-foot facility McLane now occupies isn’t suited for expansion, said David Spencer, the company’s general manager.

“Right now, we’re space-constrained and we don’t have any room to grow,” he said.

That means the plan the company scrapped amid the down economy more than five years ago is once again being considered. Developer Robert Iovinella said the company is considering sites around the region but is still expressing some interest in reviving the Exit 25 project, which was shelved shortly before it received all of the necessary approvals.

“They have several sites in the Capital Region they’re looking at,” he said. “Mine is one of them.”

Of course, there’s a bit of a hitch. Princetown’s approval for the project that straddles the Rotterdam border is set to expire at the end of this month.

Princetown’s Planning Board has been mulling a renewal for roughly three months now. Chairwoman Patricia Bishop said the town wants to take another look at the approvals that were given a five-year sunset clause in 2008 because the area surrounding the Thruway interchange with Interstate 88 has evolved.

For instance, the Pilot Travel Center on nearby Route 7 has expanded, as has Railex in the Rotterdam Corporate Park. Bishop said the result has been more truck traffic in the area nearby where the developer is proposing to build a 24-hour-a-day warehouse that could one day be expanded to cover 250,000 square feet.

“Everything has changed around it,” she said.

Bishop said new concerns have also been raised about the water pressure near the proposed warehouse. She said flow tests done recently showed a 20 percent decrease from the rates recorded when the special-use permit was first approved by Princetown.

Bishop said the Planning Board could decide on the extension sometime next month. She said the town will do its due diligence before taking action.

“We’re afraid it’s going to harm the community character here,” she said.

Rotterdam residents living in the developments near the proposed site on Feuz Road have taken advantage of Princetown’s special-use permit renewal process to voice their continued opposition to the warehouse. Many of them fear that the constant truck traffic and impact of a warehouse proposed for 27 acres near their homes will negatively affect their quality of life.

“They have nobody else to complain to,” Bishop said. “Rotterdam hasn’t taken another look at it even though it’s been five years.”

Indeed, there was no expiration date on Rotterdam’s approval of its portion of the project. Rotterdam Planning Commission Chairman Thomas Yuille said his town continues to support the development.

“I’d like to get something out there,” he said.

Iovinella said the potential impact of the project isn’t nearly as severe as some of its critics suggest. He said the warehouse would bring about 190 jobs to Schenectady County with minimal impacts on the surrounding community.

“It’s very clean operation,” he said. “We need these jobs in Schenectady County.”

Spencer said the company will likely decide its future in Guilderland over the next half-year. He said the company is exploring its options and the economy, but it would prefer to have a distribution center it owns.

“But at this point, we haven’t made any determinations on anything,” he said.

Categories: Business, News

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