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Deerfield Select Board approves sewer hookup for Bayer MaterialScience

The Select Board has agreed to allow Bayer MaterialScience, the high-performance plastics producer with a factory on the town line in Whately, to hook up to town sewer as long as it pays a fee and agrees to other conditions of use, such as disconnecting if it surpasses its allotted use.

The town will determine the fee and the amount of allowed sewer capacity the company may use and draft an agreement. Bayer does not plan to put industrial waste into the sewer.

The next hurdle for Bayer is getting permission to cross a road, and an acre of grass and brush owned by the Deerfield Economic Development Industrial Corp., which leads out to Route 116.

While the town owns the sewer, the development corporation owns the small parcel splitting the Deerfield and Whately industrial parks.

Bayer’s sewer hookup is part of a planned expansion that the company says will bring 18 to 20 new jobs and $1 million in salaries to the area. Bayer officials said the company is working on the final design.

The international plastics company would receive a 2-inch sewer line to accommodate its expected 500 gallons per day of waste and 6,300 gallons of water per day.

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.

Building Inspector Richard Calisewski confirmed the plant’s sewer usage would be the same amount as a small restaurant. The sewer would be for the plant’s bathrooms. Bayer is also willing at any notice to disconnect, Calisewski said.

Select Board members Mark Gilmore and Carolyn Shores Ness supported the request, while David Wolfram abstained due to a conflict of interest with work.

The Select Board’s decision is a reversal from the past. During the 1990s and early 2000s, Bayer, formerly Deerfield Urethane, made similar requests. Each time, the town turned it down, arguing it would not benefit town residents. And the issue continues to be contentious among residents and businesses along Routes 5 and 10 who still rely on private septic systems.

The history has not been lost on the Deerfield Economic Development Industrial Corp. At its Dec. 12 meeting, the development corporation unanimously agreed that the town should hold off on Bayer’s proposal until it determines what is required to meet the current and future treatment plant needs of Deerfield. The development corporation recommended the Select Board table action and bring the request to Town Meeting.

Member John Paciorek urged the Select Board to consider future economic development at the former Oxford Pickle plant property and the former Disston factory in the Deerfield Industrial Park that would require sewer treatment capacity.

A former selectman of 18 years, Paciorek reminded the Select Board that if the town runs over the 850 million gallons per day for 90 consecutive days, the state Department of Environmental Protection requires it to install an additional sewer treatment plant, which could cost millions.

On two or three occasions, the town almost hit that 850 million gallon threshold, Paciorek said. This was due to infrastructure problems in the South Deerfield plant, which the town addressed.

“This is premature to give it away, just because we’re good neighbors,” Paciorek said.

The Select Board countered that with nearly half the plant’s capacity available, a promise of new jobs outweighed any past conflicts.

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