Democrat Photo by Nathan Mayberg
FROM THE LEFT, Michael Sullivan, president of the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development; Kazunori Kameyama, CEO of Yukiguni Maitake Manufacturing Corporation of America; Richard Calogero, an engineer with the Chazen Company; and Charlie Bazydlow, an attorney for Yukiguni, await a decision by the Town of Mamakating Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday night.
By Nathan Mayberg
WURTSBORO March 2, 2004 The fate of the mushrooms has been put on hold.
On Thursday, the Town of Mamakating Zoning Board of Appeals decided to wait for the environmental process to take its course before they granted variances to the proposed Maitake mushroom plant.
Local environmentalists of the Basha Kill Area Association had been fighting for a halt in the proceedings of the ZBA until the Planning Boards SEQRA process had been completed. This process will include a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) by the company, Yukiguni. Company officials do not expect to begin their DEIS until the spring.
Members of the Basha Kill Area Association were pleased with the boards decision to wait until the SEQRA process was over. However, some of them had reservations about the current state of the project.
Richard Morris of Summitville felt that the height of the building (80 feet) and its 47-acre property would be a disruption to the environment visually as well as physically.
However, the ZBA unanimously voted to approve preliminary findings stating that the board had seen nothing which would prohibit them from granting the proposed height variance of 35 feet higher than the law allows, a 10 percent increase in lot coverage, and a 14-loading dock reduction.
Board member Jim Barnett stated that the board "feels that this is an exciting proposal." Barnett asked company officials about their various requests, such as, "Will you make your best effort to reduce generator noise? to which lawyer Charles Bazydlow said yes.
Company officials further explained that they would use an electric coolant system for their mushrooms by installing water and air conditioning units.
Barnett asked if the company would agree to pay a $1 fee for every 1,000 gallons a day the company exceeds its allowance of water. President and CEO of Yukiguni Maitake Manufacturing Corporation of America Kazunori Kameyama answered that the corporate board in Japan would have to approve such a requirement.
The company estimates that it will use approximately 430,000 gallons of water a day on average. Kameyama said that number could rise to 500,000 gallons of water on the hottest days of the summer.
Regarding the boards decision, Morris felt that "they conveniently skirted the issue."
He added, "If they grant such variances, it opens a Pandoras Box."
Morris noted that he has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to the town planning department for all variance approvals over the last 20 years.
He pointed out that Kohls distribution warehouse is half the size of the proposed mushroom plant and still can be seen from most elevations. And the proposal by the mushroom company to plant trees to hide the factory is not acceptable for Morris.
"Do you know how long it takes a pine tree to grow? They grow a foot a year, he commented.
He is also not pleased with the high consumption of water the plant will take in.
Kameyama said he was "satisfied with the decision. . . . I will seriously and sincerely face questions from the planning board.
Michael Sullivan, president of the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development, said that the plant would be "the first major project that really incorporates technology."
"This will be the first project that will establish our credentials as a home for high-technology industries, he explained. No company that is involved in any type of industry likes to be the first one in an area because they are skeptical of the labor force, infrastructure, and government relations. Once you get a company from a particular high tech industry, it is easier to get the second one.