Whately co. asks Deerfield for industrial park road access
SOUTH DEERFIELD — Bayer MaterialScience LLC, a worldwide producer of high-performance plastics with a factory in Whately, has asked for a hookup to Deerfield’s sewer system and road access to Route 116 through its industrial park.
At a recent selectmen’s meeting this week, Bayer shared its plans to expand its 140,000-square-foot plant to an additional 11 acres in the Whately Industrial Park, just over the Deerfield town line.
Bayer purchased the land, which abuts its current facility, from Fairview Farm owners Alan Sanderson, Alan Sanderson Jr. and Bradley Sanderson of Whately for $786,024 in December.
The company representatives, however, did not know the exact size of the future expansion or how much of the sewer system it would need.
“We don’t have a good answer for how much of the wastewater treatment plant we would use,” said Gary Griswold, a project manager. “We’re starting to research how much water we use.”
Griswold did not want to discuss specific sewer use, stating “we have to clear anything we give to the public through our lawyers.”
The company, however, does not require the sewer hookup or road access to grow and expand, General Manager Shaun Gaus said.
The company is seeking road access to increase public safety along residential roads, Long Plain Road and Pine Street, by diverting truck traffic through the Deerfield Industrial Park to Route 116, Griswold said.
The sewer hookup, he added, would help the company be more sustainable.
The selectmen did not make a decision this week because they want to consider the sewer issues further. And the Deerfield Economic Development and Industrial Corp., which decides on the road request, has only two of seven members, and would prefer to wait until the selectmen can appoint more members to replenish the largely dormant board’s ranks.
The question of road access and sewer connection between the two industrial parks has a long history between Deerfield and Whately, which lies in the nature of the parks.
The Deerfield Industrial Park was created in 1977 by the Deerfield Economic Development and Industrial Corp., which was given 40 years to develop the 75-acre park by the federal Economic Development Administration. The deadline runs out in 2017.
The park is owned by the quasi-municipal nonprofit, but it is maintained by the town.
While the Deerfield Industrial Park is connected to town sewer, Whately’s relies on a septic system.
In 1977, when Deerfield created its industrial park on former tobacco farm fields, it invited Whately to partner in the venture, but Whately declined to join.
Later in 1996, the Whately Industrial Park, owned by Sanderson, was created in almost a mirror image of the Deerfield park except while Whately placed new water lines along Long Plain Road and built an access road for the new business park, it did not build a sewer system.
Fairview Way in Whately runs straight up to the town line. Opposite it is Industrial Drive in Deerfield, which leads out onto Route 116.
Dividing the two roads is an acre or less of grass and brush owned by the Deerfield development corporation.
It is that parcel that Bayer MaterialScience wants to cross with a road. While the Deerfield Industrial Park has easy access from Route 116, to access the Whately Industrial Park, trucks and vehicles coming from Route 116 turn onto Pine Street and then turn onto Long Plain Road.
Eighteen years ago, Bayer made the same request, but at the time the company was known as Deerfield Urethane Inc.
At the time, in 1996, Deerfield Urethane had just moved from Deerfield to 9.5 acres in Whately. With the intent to double the size of the company, the manufacturer asked the development corporation for road access between Fairview Way and Industrial Drive.
Deerfield Urethane, along with Whately officials, argued that the expanding businesses of Deerfield Urethane and a new Berkshire Gas facility were increasing truck traffic along Pine Street and Long Plain Road.
The issue came back again between 2000 and 2004 when the Whately Selectmen and Deerfield Urethane repeatedly asked for road access and a neighborhood petition began circulating.
Each time, the Deerfield Selectmen denied the request, stating that the access road through the town’s park would not benefit their town’s residents.
The renewed request is also raising old political questions.
Highway Superintendent Shawn Patterson said there would be plenty of room for Bayer to hook up to the town sewer.
Chief Operator of the Wastewater Treatment Plant, Donald Chappell said the capacity of the South Deerfield plant is 850,000 gallons per day. Right now, the plant is running at 450,000 gallons per day.
“There’s plenty of room for new customers,” Chappell said.
Chappell said Bayer had told him the company needed the sewer hookup for two bathrooms and a break kitchen.
“That’s no big deal for us,” Chappell said.
Yet while Bayer is asking for a sewer hookup to Deerfield, some of the town’s residents and businesses are not on town sewer and rely on expensive private septic systems.
This issue angered town residents on septic systems when Bayer as Deerfield Urethane asked for a sewer hookup in the past.
Residents in the Central Village Zoning District in the South Deerfield area are connected to town sewer along with the Deerfield Industrial Park, Yankee Candle Co. and Channing Bete Co. But those in the commercial zone — properties along Routes 5 and 10 — use septic.