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Whately Planning Board will continue Bayer site plan review

WHATELY — The Planning Board stopped short Tuesday night of approving local thermoplastic company Bayer MaterialScience’s site plan for a proposed expansion of its factory in the town’s industrial park.

Instead, the board decided to continue the public hearing on Aug. 19, citing a lack of response to requests for comment from the Board of Health and Police Department.

The board also asked the company to address concerns that Fire Chief John Hannum expressed about the placement of fire hydrants in the design and to speak with the Highway Superintendent Keith Bardwell about how water drainage on the property will be handled when the ground freezes and becomes impermeable.

Additionally, Isabel Jurk, a Whately resident whose property abuts the factory, requested that she be given time to have her own engineer review the placement of one of the design’s two large drainage catch basins, which would be located right next to her property line.

Jurk said she was concerned about the possibility of the basin overflowing and causing water damage to her property, and wanted to ensure that it would be deep enough to prevent that.

Jurk owns Animal Eye Care of New England, a veterinary optometry practice, which operates on the property.

“I was very pleased to look at the plans and see that I’m facing the basin and not a parking lot, but I’m concerned about the sheer size of the basin and where the water will flow,” Jurk said. “I put everything I own into that property and I want to alleviate any fears I have about the basin being so close.”

Jurk, representatives from Bayer and members of the board agreed that a week would be enough time to have her engineer look at the plans.

According to Project Engineer Michael Petrin, of Westfield-based civil engineering firm Tighe & Bond, Bayer first built the Whately factory around 1997, when it was known as Deerfield Urethane. In 2006, it expanded the building by 40,000 square feet to accommodate new equipment.

Bayer representative Gary Griswold said the new expansion is needed because the company continues to outgrow its existing space.

“We’ve grown, consolidated equipment, and filled up the expansion, so now we’re looking to expand more,” Griswold said.

The expansion will add 94,485 square feet to the south side of the factory and will be used to accommodate additional employees and production lines. Petrin and Griswold estimated that the expansion would allow the company to hire about 20 new employees. The company previously said the expansion would bring $1 million in salaries to the area.

The planned expansion has been relatively controversial over the past year. In January, the company asked Deerfield’s Board of Selectmen to allow it to hook up to the town sewer system. The selectmen agreed in February to allow the company to use the system, on the condition that it pays a fee and agrees to disconnect if it exceeds its alotted capacity.

According to Deerfield Selectman Mark Gilmore, the company has not come back to the board yet to discuss an agreement.

Additonally, Bayer has sought permission to cross a road and an acre of land owned by the Deerfield Economic Development Industrial Corp. that connects to Route 116. DEDIC Chairman Paul Olszewski said that the corporation has not been approached by Bayer yet.

Petrin said that the company will approach the DEDIC board after it finishes the sewer connection discussion with the Board of Selectmen. In the meantime, he said, the plan is being designed to accommodate an on-site septic system and leech field.

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