Coffee company offers to mitigate emissions
NORTH EAST — Thursday, Feb. 23, saw the conclusion of Irving Farm Development Corp.’s public hearing for site plan approval for a coffee-roasting warehouse. The project is planned just north of the Main Street intersection on Route 22 in the village of Millerton. The hearing was continued from the previous Planning Board meeting two weeks prior, but it actually began on Dec. 20, 2010; last week’s session lasted 40 minutes.A major portion of the discussion centered on one of the warehouse’s main features — a pair of after-burners the corporation’s owners have volunteered to install to deal with odors and emissions.Planning Board member Bill Kish raised the issue of dealing with plant operations if one of the after-burners breaks down.“I was thinking about the after-burners, that we should have as part of a resolution that the plant will not happen without the after-burners,” he said. “Let’s say if the after-burners fail for some reason they wouldn’t operate the coffee-roasting facility until they are repaired.”“The idea behind that is fine,” said Irving Farm engineer George Johannesen. “However, New York does not require after-burners, and we’re not required to have them in the first place.”“The spirit of [installing the after-burners] was that it was to answer concerns raised [about emissions and odor control], so we can start out with them [to address those concerns],” Planning Board Chairman Dale Culver said. “If something happens to them, they’re going to go away?”If they break down, Culver said, they should be fixed.“Most industrial breakdowns happen,” Kish said. “To me, the real concern is the economic impact of saying, ‘Let’s operate anyway,’ and then people start getting mad.”“Our intent is not to start using them and then if they stop working, to stop,” Culver added.One of Irving Farm’s representative said there are concerns about getting parts in a timely manner if there is a breakdown. It was decided that 15 days would suffice to allow for parts to arrive; it was also decided the warehouse would not have to be shut down in the meantime.Public commentsThe public was then invited to speak; resident Pamela Michaud stood to address the board. Her first statement had to do with smoke and odor. She asked “what amounts of [volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and particulate matter] would be released?”Johannesen replied there is a 95 percent destruction rate of particulate matter, although he said he couldn’t give an exact number for nitrous oxide.“It’s fair to say the reason you don’t need an air permit is because it’s below the threshold,” Town Planner Will Agresta said, referring to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) ruling that no permit is necessary if the after-burners are installed.“It’s beneficial to point out that the applicants did offer to do the after-burners to mitigate any problems,” Culver said. “They brought it to us. It’s a good solution to that piece of the puzzle.”Michaud asked if a switch is necessary on the oxidizer control panel “at the point in the roast cycle when the control of emissions is desired.” She was told no switch is necessary as it operates automatically.She then continued her questioning.“Is there currently a growth boundary set for Millerton, beyond which development is discouraged or not allowed?” she asked the board. “Is there an imaginary line?”“It strictly depends on zoning,” Kish replied.“It’s how it’s zoned,” continued Planning Board member Leslie Farhangi. “It’s not up to us. The zoning code will tell you if it’s light industrial or how it will be zoned.”“Some density levels are set,” added Culver.As a parting comment, Michaud took aim at the Planning Board members’ intentions. “I understand members of the town Planning Board own residences quite close to the current plant, which is proposed to be relocated,” she said. “I would like to put into the public record that I believe this may constitute a conflict of interest for these board members.”None of the board members were involved with the submission of the Irving Farm application; at the meeting the statement was a non-issue. Culver commented on the matter the following day.“I would expect any board member who had a relationship to an application to recuse themselves,” he said, before adding a dose of reality. “You know, it’s really hard in a small town to have an application for something that one of the seven of us doesn’t live near. In all honesty, I think people forget that.”Back at the meeting, the board did address testing the after-burners after their construction. Johannesen said the equipment is “not inexpensive” and his clients will maintain it and ensure it remains operational, with or without town interference.Culver did request Irving Farm keep maintenance records of the equipment.“It’s best for both parties,” he said. “We’ll be able to review it if there’s a problem, or if there’s a perceived problem.”The topic of water was raised. A well will be drilled on site. No water will be used in processing coffee, although water will be used at the facility for employees. A checklist was reviewed after the hearing closed. According to Agresta, the plans will be revised to include a maintenance schedule (which will be made available to the town upon request), an equipment repair protocol and an initial manufacturer’s test. Attorney to the Town Warren Replansky will prepare a resolution including the above revisions; that resolution will be ready for the Planning Board’s next meeting, set for Wednesday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.