gets go ahead
By Dan Hust
WURTSBORO Tuesday’s unanimous approval of Yukiguni Maitake’s site plan means the mushroom factory is one step closer to completion.
It technically was at this point once before, but then Yukiguni decided to downsize the plant, cutting in half its capacity and instituting a “quasi geothermal” system that would return to the ground the sometimes vast amounts of water needed to grow maitake mushrooms.
As a result, the amended site plan needed reapproval by the Mamakating Planning Board (though some residents argued the process should restart in its entirety). Last week, the planning board voted 6-0 (with one member absent) to once again grant conditional site plan approval.
According to Yukiguni attorney Charles Bazydlo, that approval is predicated on the company receiving a water withdrawal permit from the Delaware River Basin Commission and SPDES and wetlands disturbance permits from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.
Afterwards, the planning board is expected to fully sign off on the site plan, enabling Yukiguni to seek a building permit for the construction of the 900,000-square-foot, 64-foot-high factory.
“I’m hopeful we’ll have everything secured ... by early spring,” Bazydlo remarked.
He’s also hopeful the Basha Kill Area Association (BKAA) won’t be pursuing any more litigation regarding the company’s plans, but it looks like another fight is looming.
The BKAA lost a prior court battle, but BKAA President Paula Medley confirmed yesterday that “we are in the midst of preparing a lawsuit.”
BKAA attorney Alex Smith acknowledged that they can’t reargue what has already been settled by the court, but considering the substantial changes made to Yukiguni’s site plan, he said there is room to make a case that the township should have required a supplemental environmental impact statement.
Smith said the suit will be filed by January 24 in order to adhere to the 30-day requirement to take action.
Mamakating Supervisor Bob Fiore, who sat on the planning board when Yukiguni was originally making its way through the permitting process, said he’s supportive of the project as long as Yukiguni “clearly and openly” complies with all of the town’s conditions and laws.
Nevertheless, he expects the project to continue to be a source of rancor with some residents.
“I think it will remain divisive by virtue of its sheer mass,” Fiore predicted. “It’s a large building sitting in the midst of a bucolic setting.”
He hopes that, over time, the facility expected to employ more than 100 will have a long-lasting, positive economic impact on the township and surrounding areas.