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Deerfield board denies request from Bayer MaterialScience for sewer hookup

DEERFIELD — The Deerfield Economic Development and Industrial Corp. does not want to give up town sewer capacity to any outside business.

The board last week denied a request by Bayer MaterialScience LLC, a high-performance plastics producer with a factory on the town line in Whately, for a hookup to Deerfield’s sewer system.

The main factor in the board’s decision is the town’s future economic development. The recently reactivated board owns the 75-acre Deerfield Industrial Park off Route 116 and is charged with boosting economic development in the town and within the 36-year-old park.

It wants to preserve excess sewage treatment capacity for future Deerfield industrial growth, board member John Paciorek said. “The sewer is still absent in commercial and residential areas.”

The seven-member board — John Ciesla, Paul Olszenski, Robert Decker III, Frank Sherburne, Rick Andriole and Ralph Healey in addition to Paciorek — voted without dissent to recommend the policy to the Select Board. Olszenski was absent from the meeting.

In August, Bayer MaterialScience asked the town for a sewer hookup and a road extension through the Deerfield Industrial Park. Whately has no town sewers and Bayer currently uses a septic system.

Bayer is in the Whately Industrial Park, which is owned privately by Whately farmer Alan Sanderson. The Whately park abuts the Deerfield park in almost a mirror image.

The request is part of the company’s plans to expand to 11 acres in the Whately park abutting its facility. The plastics company would need an easement from Deerfield for both requests. The economic board did not decide on the request for a road extension.

Deerfield has two wastewater treatment plants, in South Deerfield and Old Deerfield.

According to chief operator of the plants, Don Chappell, the South Deerfield plant is running at about half of its capacity since the Oxford pickle factory closed in 2006. The Old Deerfield plant is also running at half capacity.

The design flow of the South Deerfield plant is 850 million gallons per day.

If the town runs over the 850 million gallons per day for 90 consecutive days, the state Department of Environmental Protection requires it to put in an additional sewer treatment plant, which can cost up to $20 million, Paciorek said. When the Oxford factory was open, the town came close to exceeding its flow capacity, he said.

“That’s my reason for caution. We don’t know what will go into the Oxford site or the industrial park,” Paciorek said.

Much of the available capacity is due to closed businesses, the board said.

In the past, the Oxford pickle plant on Jewett Avenue and Disston Co. toolmakers in the industrial park used much of the sewer capacity. When they were shuttered, that capacity increased, but the economic board cannot predict what type of businesses could someday replace the former factory sites.

“We’re here for economic development,” said Healey. “We’re OK right now on sewage. But we have no way of knowing what type of businesses will come in that will push it over the edge.”

Meanwhile, one of the most significant buildings in the park is up for sale after a foreclosure.

According to a legal notice, a 275,000-square-foot building at 5 Industrial Drive West, which was owned by Deerfield Plaza LLC, will be sold at public auction at 11 a.m. Oct. 28.

The site was the home of Disston for 15 years until it moved its operations and 50 employees to Chicopee last June. The minimum bid is set at $75,000.

The board also believed town residents and businesses that are not on town sewer and rely on expensive private septic systems should be connected before any from outside.

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. Those in the commercial zone — properties north along Routes 5 and 10 — use septic.

The board’s decision follows a long history of denials from Deerfield to Whately businesses wanting to tap into the sewer system. In 1996, Bayer made the same request, but at the time it was known as Deerfield Urethane. Over the years, the company continued to ask for sewer and road connections.

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