Skip to main content

HP Hood

Updates on city water issues: contesting a well use, lead waterline survey, expansion delay

By Joanne Beck
spray park 2014
File Photo of the spray park at Batavia's Austin Park, where water usually seems plentiful.
Photo by Howard Owens

If you haven’t heard or been paying attention, there's been increased focus on water in Genesee County, from drought in some areas causing residents to drive several miles to haul water to their homes and a $150 million Phase 3 water project being mapped out for funding and the physical work, to appeals for citizens to use water judiciously in the face of potential shortages.

The city fire department had to curtail its hydrant flushing this week due to hot temperatures to conserve water. 

City management is dealing with other issues as well, which have been dragging on for the last two years. Here are a few updates:

Seneca Power Partners sought to draw water from a city well, while both Seneca and city management argued their cases to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in 2022. City Manager Rachael Tabelski said the case is still ongoing.

After a more than four-month review process of paperwork and supporting documentation from the applicant, Seneca Power Partners, and from city, town and county management and legal sources, the DEC has opted to grant Seneca a permit to “add Well D at the Batavia Well Field as a new permanent source of water supply.”

The permit has been granted for five years, with the option for Seneca Power Partners to reapply when that time is up.

“We have the same concerns we had when we issued the letters of concern (in July),” Tabelski said. “We outlined our concerns to the DEC, and we will meet with DPW and our legal counsel to determine the next steps.”

At the time, Tabelski wasn't quite certain how the DEC arrived at its decision, given some confusing supporting information. 

“It is my understanding that Seneca Powers’ Application with the NYS DEC to draw water directly from the aquifer is still under review,” she said. “The city, county and town of Batavia continue to work together to prevent this draw of water because the aquifer is a historical low. The aquifer is the city’s primary drinking source of water, which must be protected. Depending on the demand of water and the termperatures we could see shortages in water for customers, and we encourage water users to continue conservation techniques.”

In short, the permit authorizes the withdrawal of up to 698,400 gallons per day, or a total of  26 million gallons per year of water for the purpose of system maintenance, boiler make-up water, and non-contact cooling to support the generation of electric power in accordance with the terms and conditions of this permit. Water will be withdrawn from a new groundwater supply, Well D, located at the Batavia Power Plant.

Given the tenuous condition of the city’s and county’s water supply — with the county issuing similar appeals to taper water usage each summer — The Batavian asked if the city has or is formulating a plan to counteract future potential water shortages.

“The City purchases water from the county but we see ourselves as a partner to the water issues that the county is facing.  We work constantly to assist the county with projects at the Water Treatment Plant to increase water production closer to the permitted level at the plant," Tabelski said. "Over $4 million has been invested in the last four years to make improvements at the Water Plant.

 “In 2022, a WIIA (water infrastructure improvement) grant was secured by the City and County to complete these projects.  At this time, the Batavia Water Plant produces water and services the entire center region of Genesee County."

The Batavian had also asked about the status of the lead survey, however, City Council approved another measure toward this goal during Monday’s business meeting to identify lead water lines in homes.

As a result of a recently passed Lead and Copper Rule, the city will inventory 400 water service lines throughout the city to determine where any lead lines are located. The city issued a request for a proposal to conduct the inventory and made water meter replacements were needed, Water and Wastewater Superintendent Tom Phelps said during Monday’s meeting.

Out of five company bids, a decision was made not to proceed with replacing the meters due to the cost of completing the project, he said. Electro Scan Inc. was the lowest bidder for the inventory portion, coming in at $375,000. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of September, he said. 

“We will not be using an intern for this project as the timeline for the Lead and Copper Rule Planning is due in October.  Once we have this data collected, the city will be able to use predictive modeling to gain more insight into the actual number of lead lines and prepare our plans for replacement,” Tabelski said.  “Currently, we have 28 public sector lines identified as lead, 4,054 unknown, and 0 residential/commercial lines identified as lead, with 5,645 unknown.  We need assistance from the community to help us identify lead lines and funding to start replacement.  

"A video was recently released to the school district, and we continue to encourage residents and building owners to fill out our survey online that feeds directly into the City’s GIS system for identification, which can be found here: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/40d14e33590842a088144a45cb1eee6c .”

On a related note, a $120 million expansion project at HP Hood was temporarily halted by the city earlier this year because the town of Batavia had been exceeding its wastewater limits and related wastewater facility agreement. That remains on hold, Tabelski said.

“The City continues to remain hopeful regarding the finalization of the updated Wastewater Facility Agreement with the Town of Batavia.  Once the agreement is executed the city will rescind the SEQR challenge to the Hood project specific to the town’s sewer capacity,” she said.  “It’s vitally important, fair, and equitable for both city and town residents that the agreement reflects the town’s current usage of sewer and that the percent of town usage is purchased via a capacity purchase agreement. 

“Once the agreement is executed, both the town and city have agreed and look forward to moving forward with an expansion study of the Wastewater Treatment Plant for the potential for increased capacity,” she said. 

 Tabelski sent the town Planning Board a letter on March 13 notifying the group that the city had not been informed in a timely manner that the town had been established as lead agency for the proposed expansion of process lines at HP Hood on Feb. 13, 2024, and the city did not receive word of that until March 4. The city, therefore, objects to the town acting as the lead agency, Tabelski said.

In addition, ”due to violations of the town’s contracted wastewater capacity limit, the project cannot proceed,” Tabelski said in the letter. 

City of Batavia puts hold on Hood project due to town exceeding wastewater capacity, taking lead role

By Joanne Beck
HP Hood expansion pic
2023 File Photo of HP Hood in the Agri-Business Park in Batavia. Photo by Howard Owens

The city of Batavia has temporarily halted a $120 million expansion project with HP Hood in the town of Batavia due to “violations of the town’s contracted wastewater capacity limit,” and both municipalities are working to rectify the situation, City Manager Rachael Tabelski says.

Tabelski sent the town Planning Board a letter on March 13 notifying the group that the city had not been informed in a timely manner that the town had been established as lead agency for the proposed expansion of process lines at HP Hood on Feb. 13, 2024, and the city did not receive word of that until March 4. The city, therefore, objects to the town acting as the lead agency, Tabelski said.

In addition, ”due to violations of the town’s contracted wastewater capacity limit, the project cannot proceed,” Tabelski said in the letter.

When asked for further comments in an interview, Tabelski said, “As we are in active negotiations with the town regarding a new purchase capacity agreement, I’m going to respectfully decline an interview at this point.”

She did provide the two-page letter sent to the planning board, which includes background about the apparent increased wastewater discharge that was “identified as part of the state environmental quality review (SEQR) for the project application and 2021 SEQR amendment for the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.” 

“The city was never furnished a copy of the 2021 GEIS (generic environmental impact statement) amendment and is an involved agency,” Tabelski said. 

In 1983, the city and town entered into a wastewater facility agreement that outlined ownership and operation of the new treatment plant. In February 2015, they entered into a wastewater facility agreement and a wastewater metering agreement. The city currently owns 84.55% of the total plant capacity, and the town owns 15.45%. 

Due to ongoing development in the town, including the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, the town’s sanitary sewer flows are exceeding the contractual limit of .85 million gallons per day (MGD) or 15.45% of the total capacity, Tableksi said. 

Each city and town resolution in May 2023 identified the parties’ mutual concerns about potential increased flow resulting from the Kings Plaza pump station project, and the average sewer flow was 1.2 MGD. In fall 2023, the town advised the city that HP Hood was expanding but that it was only the warehouse and would not create additional demand for water or sewer capacity. Hood already discharges 1.1 to 1.2 MGD. By the end of 2023, the town’s average sewer flow had increased to 1.33 MGD, Tabelski said. 

“This is well in excess of the town’s contractual limit of .85 MGD,” she said. “Consequently, the town has no capacity to allocate to expansion of HP Hood or any other facility at this time.” 

The city also cannot permit increased sewer flows from the town of Batavia until the wastewater treatment plan expansion study is complete, she said. 

“The city and town still need to enter into a proposed wastewater agreement that was circulated in January 2024. However, this agreement will still not allow for increased discharge beyond 1.2 MGD. This pending agreement will be the town’s limit for wastewater discharge.”

As for its objection to the town being lead agency for the Hood project, Tabelski said that “the town has failed to accurately and timely inform the city about the expansion of wastewater capacity demand at the Ag Park.”

“In addition, the town is in breach of the wastewater agreement with the city by discharging in excess of .85 MGD,” she said. “A lead agent under SEQR is responsible for thoroughly and accurately evaluating the potential environmental impacts prior to making a determination of significance on the action.

“The town’s excess wastewater discharge beyond contract limits threatens the city’s discharge limits and has the potential to exceed the city’s (State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit,” she said. “As a result, the city objects to the town’s lead agency designation for this action under SEQR.”

The Batavian sent questions on Wednesday to Planning Board Chairwoman Kathy Jasinski about why the town exceeded its wastewater capacity and what the town would do to rectify the matter so that it could proceed with the Hood project, which has received the blessings of Genesee County Economic Development for the $120 million expansion. 

Jasinski replied on Friday, referring The Batavian to the town engineer. The Batavian has sent questions to Steven Mountain and received an auto-response that he will be out of the office until March 27.

The Hood expansion is to be 32,500 square feet and pledges to create 48 new jobs while retaining 455 full-time equivalent jobs at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. This project accommodates its automatic storage and retrieval system refrigerated warehouse. It will also include new batching and processing systems and other upgrades, which will allow the company to increase capacity and begin a new production line.

HP Hood’s investment is projected to result in a local economic impact of $49.87 million in wages and tax revenue. The GCEDC approved sales tax exemptions estimated at $4.52 million, a property tax abatement estimated at $549,705 based on an incremental increase in assessed value, and a mortgage tax exemption estimated at $536,000, bringing the value of the proposed financial agreements to approximately $5.6 million. 

GCEDC’s board recently approved the Hood financial package, prompting The Batavian to ask if the agency was aware of the wastewater situation and request comment about the city’s action to put a hold on the project.

“We are aware that the city and town of Batavia are continuing discussions regarding the current capacity at the wastewater treatment plant as our communities plan for the future,” Director of Marketing and Communications Jim Krencik said. “The GCEDC Board of Directors approved incentives that directly support HP Hood’s warehouse expansion. All IDA incentives cannot be approved until the completion of a project’s SEQR.  The non-warehouse project is currently under the SEQR review by the town. Soliciting comments and feedback from interested and involved agencies, such as the city’s letter, is the first step in that process.”

In her conclusion, Tabelski said the city is willing to consider “other mitigation options to decrease wastewater discharge by the town” so that it can remain within the contractual limit.

“Unfortunately, until such wastewater reduction options are implemented by the town, there is no wastewater capacity,” she said. 

HP Hood $120M expansion moves ahead with the support of GCEDC

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors approved a final resolution for HP Hood’s $120 million proposed expansion project at its meeting on Thursday, March 7.

The 32,500 sq. ft. expansion project pledges to create 48 new jobs while retaining 455 FTEs adding to 1,000+ professionals in the food processing industry and cluster with over 1.2 million sq. ft. of food and beverage facilities at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. 

“The dairy hub of the northeast at the Genesee Valley Agribusiness Park has built itself upon the qualities of our workforce, our dedicated farming families, and our strategic location close to major consumers,” said GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde. 

“The economic infrastructure generated by shovel-ready sites and workforce development programs has set up HP Hood and our robust food and beverage industry for sustained success.”

HP Hood’s expansion accommodates its automatic storage and retrieval system (ASRS) refrigerated warehouse. The project will also include new batching and processing systems and other upgrades which will allow the company to increase capacity and begin a new production line.

“The addition of another generational investment will result in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park delivering more benefits to our community and agricultural sector,” added Hyde. 

Genesee County’s shovel-ready sites have been designed and strategically located at key transportation routes with access to population centers across the Northeast and Midwest and infrastructure corridors, including access to low-cost hydropower.

HP Hood’s investment is projected to result in a local economic impact of $49.87 million in wages and tax revenue. The GCEDC approved sales tax exemptions estimated at $4.52 million, a property tax abatement estimated at $549,705 based on an incremental increase in assessed value, and a mortgage tax exemption estimated at $536,000 bringing the value of the proposed financial agreements to approximately $5.6 million. For every $1 of public benefit, HP Hood is investing $16 into the local economy.

GCEDC board to consider assistance for HP Hood 32,500 square foot expansion

By Press Release
hp hood
H.P. Hood plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, Batavia.
FIle photo by Howard Owens.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider a final resolution for HP Hood’s $120 million proposed expansion project at its meeting on Thursday, March 7.

Announced by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul last fall, HP Hood plans to expand its footprint at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. The project includes the construction of a 32,500 square foot expansion to accommodate its automatic storage and retrieval system (ASRS) refrigerated warehouse.  The project will also include new batching and processing systems and other upgrades, allowing the company to increase capacity and begin a new production line. 

“The agricultural sector is a backbone of our regional and state economy, as evidenced by the significant investment and jobs provided by companies such as HP Hood, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, and O-AT-KA Milk Products, among many others,” said GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde. The sector's growth here is the result of the Genesee Agri-Business Park, which was constructed in 2011 and is now almost at full build-out.”

The expansion would create 48 new jobs while retaining 455 full-time positions as part of the company’s 1,200 employees throughout New York State. Investments at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park have resulted in a cluster with over 1.2 million sq. ft. of food and beverage facilities employing over 1,000 professionals in the food processing industry, the leading employment sector in Genesee County and GLOW region.

GCEDC officials tout proposed HP Hood expansion as 'significant milestone'

By Press Release
hp hood
The HP Hood facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in May 2023
Photo by Howard Owens.

Press Release:

The proposal reviewed by the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) for HP Hood’s $120 million expansion at its September 7, 2023 board meeting marks a significant milestone for the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in the town of Batavia. 

Since opening in 2011, the Ag Park and supporting infrastructure have generated investments of approximately $607 million by HP Hood, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Marktec Products, and O-AT-KA Milk Products that have resulted in a cluster with over 1.2 million sq. ft. of food and beverage facilities set to employ over 1,000 professionals in the food processing industry, which is the leading employment sector in Genesee County and GLOW region.

HP Hood’s investment also marks another $100+ million project in Genesee County, and the fifth largest in the county’s history, four of which have been announced in just the past year. 

These projects include Plug Power’s expansion announced by New York State Governor Kathy  Hochul in 2023 in which the company will be investing an additional $377 million on top of the $290 million investment Plug Power announced in 2021 at Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP). Also in 2023, Edwards announced a $319
million project at STAMP and Horizon Acres Associates announced a $142 million multi-phase development in the town of Pembroke. 

“Our success in regional economic development is the result of the collaboration with our public sector partners as we have worked through the years to prepare sites such as the Agri-Business Park and STAMP so that they are industry-ready with high-capacity utility infrastructure in order to market these assets to companies and in turn the new jobs and investment they are making in our community,” said Steve Hyde, GCEDC President and CEO. 

“Genesee County’s commitment to growth allows companies to start construction almost immediately which sets them up for sustained success as they expand operations, and we are witnessing that first-hand through HP Hood’s recent investment announcement.” 

HP Hood's expansion at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park includes the construction of a 32,500 sq ft building to accommodate the addition of new batching and processing systems, along with other upgrades that will allow the company to increase capacity and begin the production for a new product line. The expansion project will create 48 new full-time positions while retaining 455 employees. 

“From HP Hood’s initial investment of $205 million and 230 jobs announced in 2017, both of those numbers have nearly doubled; the food and beverage sector continues to grow and shows no signs of stopping,” added Hyde.

A 2019 SUNY Rockefeller Institute of Government study reported the economic output of labor income and value added by businesses in Genesee County’s shovel-ready sites at $809 million – 16% of the total economic output of the county. The study projects that the existing shovel- ready sites could support an additional $4.9 billion of economic output at full capacity.

Genesee County’s shovel-ready sites have been designed and strategically located at key transportation routes with access to population centers across the Northeast and Midwest and infrastructure corridors, including access to low-cost hydropower.

GCEDC board to consider Hood expansion to create 48 new jobs

By Press Release

Press Release:

As announced by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, HP Hood plans to invest $120 million to expand its footprint at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in the town of Batavia.  The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider an initial resolution for the proposal expansion at its meeting on Thursday, September 7th.

The $120 million project includes the construction of a 32,500 sq ft expansion to accommodate its automatic storage and retrieval system (ASRS) refrigerated warehouse.  The project will also include new batching and processing systems and other upgrades which will allow the company to increase capacity and begin a new production line.

 The expansion would create 48 new jobs while retaining 455 FTEs, more than doubling the company’s initial employment commitments in 2017. HP Hood’s project is the fifth $100+ million project in Genesee County in the past three years, including Plug Power’s expansion and Edwards Vacuum announcements at STAMP and Horizon Acres Associates in Pembroke in 2023, and Plug Power’s initial project at STAMP in 2021.

 “Since 2011, the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park food and beverage industry has attracted over $600 million of private sector investment supporting over 1,000 jobs,” said GCEDC President and CEO Steven Hyde. “This investment and jobs has generated significant benefits for our community as Genesee County and Batavia are truly the leading dairy-processing hub of the Northeast.”

The GCEDC will consider sales tax exemptions estimated at $4.52 million, a property tax abatement estimated at $549,705 based on an incremental increase in assessed value, and a mortgage tax exemption estimated at $536,000 bringing the value of the proposed financial agreements to approximately $5.6 million. For every $1 of public benefit, HP Hood is investing $16 into the local economy resulting in a local economic impact of $49.87 million in wages and tax revenue.

The GCEDC board will also consider a final resolution from Oak Orchard Solar 3 LLC for a 5 MW community solar farm in the town of Batavia. The $9 million project is projected to generate $4,000/megawatts (AC) annually + a 2% annual escalator of revenues to Genesee County and the Elba Central School District, along with a host agreement with the Town of Batavia.

HP Hood in Batavia planning expansion

By Howard B. Owens
HP Hood Ag Park
The HP Hood facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in May 2023
Photo by Howard Owens.

Press release:

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced that dairy product manufacturer HP Hood will grow its operations in Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. The project will include the addition of new processing systems, along with other upgrades, which will allow the company to increase capacity for the production of additional extended-shelf-life (ESL) beverages at the Batavia facility. As a result, the company has committed to creating up to 48 new jobs at the manufacturing facility. To date, the company has created more than 400 jobs at the site and currently employs close to 1200 statewide. Hood purchased the on-site, 363,000-square-foot plant in 2018 from the Dairy Farmers of America for $60 million and soon after expanded the facility by another 100,000 square feet. HP Hood is the agri-business park’s largest landowner.

“This continued commitment from one of the nation's most prominent dairy companies will create top-quality jobs and spur new investment in the Finger Lakes," said Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight. "Agriculture and food processing are key pillars of the region’s economic development efforts, and HP Hood’s latest investment shows that our multi-pronged growth strategy is working." 

ESD is assisting the forward-thinking project with up to $1 million through the performance-based Excelsior Jobs Tax Credit Program in exchange for job creation commitments. The total project cost has been placed at $120 million. Genesee County is also considering providing incentives for the project. Greater Rochester Enterprise also assisted with the expansion effort. Construction on the planned updates is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2025.

Headquartered in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, HP Hood has five New York State production facilities in Batavia, Vernon, Oneida, Arkport and Lafargeville. Founded in 1846, today, Hood is one of the largest branded dairy operators in the United States. The company’s portfolio of national and super-regional brands and franchise products includes Hood, Crowley Foods, Planet Oat, Heluva Good!, LACTAID®, and Blue Diamond Almond Breeze®. The company’s annual sales are more than $3 billion. 

Gary Kaneb, President and CEO of HP Hood LLC, said, “Our investment in the Batavia facility is being driven by the continued growth of ESL dairy and non-dairy beverage categories. We are grateful for the support of Empire State Development as Batavia continues to be a strategic site for the expansion of our ESL manufacturing capabilities.”

The Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park is located at the heart of the Buffalo-Rochester Tech Corridor. For additional information about the park, visit: http://gcedc.com/agpark.

New York State has a robust, thriving agricultural industry and is home to almost 3,500 dairy farms and 620,000 cows. New York’s dairy industry is also the State’s largest agricultural sector. The majority of farms are family-run operations, supporting the framework of the State’s agricultural economy.

NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “HP Hood’s expansion in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park is good news for New York’s agricultural industry. Not only will this effort create new jobs and support hundreds of existing jobs in the Finger Lakes region, but it will also ensure that consumers, far and wide, can continue to enjoy the delicious, local, award-winning products that HP Hood is known for. I thank our partners at Empire State Development and Finger Lakes Forward for helping to ensure that this project can come to fruition.” 

State Senator George Borrello said, “HP Hood’s investment in its Ag Park operations is a strategic recognition of the quality dairy and agricultural suppliers that surround them, the availability of a skilled workforce and the supportive partners in government committed to their success. This effort is another exciting addition to our region’s dairy industry projects pipeline, which just keeps growing. We are truly witnessing a transformation. Many thanks to Empire State Development, Genesee County officials and HP Hood’s leadership team for the vision and commitment that made this achievement possible.”

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley said, "I'm happy to see Empire State Development's announcement that HP Hood is expanding its operations in our region. Businesses like HP Hood play an important role in our state's agriculture and specifically the dairy industry. Their commitment to add nearly 50 new full-time employees and retention of over 450 employees will provide more support for our local economy. This announcement is great news for our district and will have a positive impact on our community and Western New York as a whole."

Genesee County Legislature Chairwoman Chair Rochelle M. Stein said, “We congratulate the family-owned dairy farms of this region for providing high quality and local milk for HP Hood's growing ESL dairy beverages. This investment by HP Hood adds to the agricultural business foundation of our county and strengthens our regional agribusiness economic synergies from farm to consumer.”

Batavia Town Supervisor Greg Post said, “The Town of Batavia is proud to be home of one of the most recognizable dairy brands in the United States. HP Hood’s growth will result in continued economic benefits to our town and even more career opportunities for our residents.”

Steve Hyde, Genesee County Economic Development Center President & CEO, said, “HP Hood's growth has already exceeded expectations at the Ag Park, and this project adds to the success of the agricultural and food and beverage manufacturing sectors, which continues to be leading employment sectors of our economy. This expansion is another endorsement of Batavia and the Ag Park's role as the leading dairy hub of the Northeastern United States and our local workforce’s talent and readiness for food and beverage manufacturing.”

Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Co-Chair Bob Duffy, President and CEO, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, said, "This expansion not only strengthens our region’s position as a hub for food and beverage manufacturing but also bolsters job creation and investment. We're proud to see this growth in Genesee County, demonstrating that our efforts to revitalize communities and drive economic prosperity are yielding tangible results. We extend our sincere gratitude to Empire State Development for their commitment to our region's economic growth and look forward to actively supporting HP Hood as they continue to expand and thrive."

GCEDC mum on whether Genesee County was in running for new Coca-Cola dairy processing plant

By Howard B. Owens
HP Hood Ag Park
The HP Hood dairy processing facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens

There just isn't enough room in the Genesee Valley Ag Park on the east side of the Town of Batavia for a project as large as the Fairlife plant announced today in Monroe County.

The 745,000-square-foot facility will be built by Coca-Cola and create an estimated 250 jobs in the Town of Webster.  The company is expected to invest $650 million in the project.

Asked if the Genesee County Economic Development Center competed for the project, Jim Krencik, senior director of marketing and communications for GCEDC, said it is against agency policy to discuss what companies might have looked at Genesee County as a possible site location for a facility.

"The huge winners here are the dairy farmers," Krencik said. "Wherever it's located in our region, the dairy farmers are the biggest winners."

When asked a follow-up question, he said with HP Hood and Upstate Niagara Milk Cooperative operating in the park along with planned expansions, the Coca-Cola facility wouldn't fit in the park.

Asked about potential sites in Genesee County for such a facility, he said there could be, but that would depend on available infrastructure, and he reiterated the policy of not discussing negotiations with businesses.

HP Hood is the largest land owner in the Ag Park. Its current facility sits on 80 acres, and the company also owns a 22-acre parcel to the factory's north, and 30-acre and 17-acre parcels to the west. All three of those parcels are currently vacant.

The Coca-Cola project in Monroe County has echoes of another soda company's foray into the dairy business -- when Pepsi Co teamed up with the Theo Muller Group to build a Greek yogurt factory in the ag park.  Pepsi and Muller invested $206 million into the project only to close the doors less than three years later.

Pepsi sold the 363,000-square-foot plant to the Dairy Farmers of America for $60 million.

Hood purchased the plant in 2018 from DFA for $54 million. Hood immediately expanded the plant by at least another 100,000 square feet.

The other failed Greek yogurt project, the plant built by Alpina, is now a dairy processing facility for Upstate Niagara Milk Cooperative.

The big difference, perhaps, between the Pepsi and Coke projects is that Pepsi was trying to start a new business line and enter the emerging and competitive market of Greek yogurt. And the product, some critics pointed out, wasn't really Greek yogurt. Pepsi Muller found it hard to get its products on grocery store shelves. 

In Coke's case, its Fairlife brand was launched in 2012 and is widely distributed, having already hit $1 billion in sales.

According to the company's website, Fairlife is an ultra-filtered, flavored dairy drink. The process reportedly removes the lactose and much of the sugar and leaves behind more protein and calcium.

Gov. Kathy Hochul praised Coca-Cola for selecting Monroe County as the location for its new plant.

"This decision by Fairlife to expand their operations in Monroe County marks the next chapter in New York's agricultural success story," Hochul said. "New York's dairy industry serves as a crucial economic engine for our state, and this $650 million investment from Fairlife will create jobs and drive economic impact, particularly in the Finger Lakes."

Town planning board approves Imagination Station, HP Hood projects

By Mike Pettinella

The Batavia Town Planning Board on Tuesday night approved site plans for additions to the Imagination Station child care center at 5079 Clinton Street Road and HP Hood at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on East Main Street Road.

“The day care center will be adding two classrooms in the back,” Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski said, noting that the State Environmental Quality Review revealed no negative impact to the area. “We’re happy they are doing a successful business and it was unanimously approved.”

The 2,800-square-foot addition measures 78 feet wide by 36 feet deep. The project’s estimated cost is $250,000, according to documents submitted by owners Kelly and Eric Kronbeck of Alden.

At HP Hood, plans call for construction of a 7,200-square-foot commercial cooler for more storage at the processing plant.

Previously, both site plans were recommended for approval by the Genesee County Planning Board.

County planners recommend approval of zoning amendment to allow public garages in city's I-1 districts

By Mike Pettinella

A zoning text amendment that would add “public garages” to the list of allowed uses with a special use permit in all Industrial Districts in the City of Batavia is back in City Council’s hands after a recommendation of approval Thursday night from the Genesee County Planning Board.

County planners had no issues with the zoning change that was initiated back in January when Batavia businessman Eric Biscaro sought the city’s permission to build an auto service station on his Ellicott Street property that currently houses Classic Home Improvements and Armor Building Supply.

Initially, county planners denied Biscaro’s request for a use variance because the city code allowed auto repair shops only in the Batavia Industrial Park, and in a C-2 (Commercial) zone with a special use permit.

In July, the City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee decided to open the I-1 (Industrial) zone to include public garages, setting the stage for another review by the Genesee County Planning Board and, ultimately, a public hearing set by City Council.

Genesee County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari said that last night’s planning board action is “the middle step” in the process and could see things working out for Biscaro, and any others who wish to pursue similar ventures in the I-1 zones.

“This is the way it is supposed to work,” Oltramari said, comparing this situation to the referral pertaining to an event venue in the Town of Darien that also was on Thursday’s agenda.

The planning board also approved, with modifications, a special use permit for West Seneca business partners Glenn Laben and Kelsey Dellaneve to build The Barn at Flower Creek, a 3,120-square-foot gambrel roof gathering facility to accommodate up to 220 guests for weddings, parties, graduations, etc., located at 388 Broadway Road, Darien.

The estimated $500,000 project also will include an access driveway, parking lot for 85 vehicles, and an onsite wastewater treatment system meeting health department requirements.

Required modifications are obtaining a driveway permit from the state Department of Transportation prior to approval by the Darien Town Planning Board and completing a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan prior to final approval from the Town.

Two years ago, the couple was denied a use variance and, as was the case with Biscaro, needed to seek a zoning amendment from the Town of Darien – this one to allow gathering halls in Low Density Residential Districts with a special use permit.

A public hearing on their proposal is set for 7:45 p.m. Sept. 21 at Darien Town Hall, 10569 Alleghany Road.

In other action, planners approved the following site plans:

  • For HP Hood to construct a 7,200-square-foot commercial cooler addition to the existing structure at its plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, East Main Street Road, Batavia. Neil Zinsmeyer, of Napierala Consulting, representing the company, said the cooler will provide overflow storage and will have little impact upon traffic or staffing levels.
  • For a 2,800-square-foot addition (78 feet by 36 feet) to the rear of the Imagination Station child care center at 5079 Clinton Street Road, Batavia.
  • For Holland Resources of East Bethany to put up a 45- by 100-foot addition (six more bays) to the north side of an existing self-service Recreational Vehicle storage building at 5545 Route 5, Stafford.
  • For a new real estate office in a Commercial District (C-2) at 7133 W. Main Road, Le Roy. Documents submitted by applicant Nancy Crocker, of SB Gee’s LLC indicate that Empire Realty Group, will be moving into the location.

Previous story: Genesee County planners to address special use permit for The Barn at Flower Creek in Darien​

Upstate Niagara Cooperative primed to jump-start Batavia plant as Town applies for $750,000 grant

By Mike Pettinella

The passing of a resolution authorizing the Town of Batavia to apply for a $750,000 New York State grant is welcome news to officials of Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., the dairy farmer-owned conglomerate that purchased the former Alpina Foods plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on East Main Street Road.

“We’re targeting on opening as soon as reasonably possible pending the OCR (Office of Community Renewal Community Development Block Grant) approval and equipment ordering, as we need additional equipment for the facility,” said Mike Patterson, chief financial officer for the company – formed in 2006 as a result of a merger between Upstate Farms Cooperative and Niagara Milk Cooperative.

The Batavia Town Board this afternoon passed the measure, along with another OCR grant application for the same amount for a $21.6 million project at HP Hood LLC, in the Agri-Business Park to install a new filler line. The HP Hood plan would created about 56 new jobs, including positions that would provide entry-level employee training.

The Alpina plant has been vacant for the last 18 months following Upstate’s $22.5 million purchase of what was a $60 million investment by Alpina, a Colombia-based company that attempted to break into the U.S. Greek yogurt market more than six years ago.

Patterson said company leaders have been “trying to figure out the best use for the plant,” adding that they spent another $1 million since the acquisition and are investing an additional $4,040,000 to get the processing plant up and running.

Currently, Upstate has employees working at its membership office in the R.E. Chapin building and at the O-At-Ka Milk Products facility, both on Ellicott Street Road.

All told, the cooperative employs 1,800 people in New York, Patterson said, with the opening of the Batavia plant expected to create 50 more jobs.

Patterson said the OCR grant will support the purchase of necessary equipment and the training of new employees.

“One of the toughest issues we face in this area is finding qualified help, so we’re trying to get employees that are ready to be trained, and they will be brought into our manufacturing sites – not only for us but for Hood and O-At-Ka and other places,” he said. “It was all part of this project.”

The Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation, an arm of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, is acting as a pass-through for the grant/loan to reach Upstate.

“We get involved with the Office of Community Renewal and have done a bunch of these projects throughout time when we get great companies investing in Genesee County,” said Chris Suozzi, GCEDC vice president of Business Development. “We want to be able to help them out.”

He said the OCR program has been “our friend” and is confident that Upstate will receive the grant.

“It’s one of the great grant or low-interest loan programs,” he said. “The grant program is kind of how we’ve devised it with the companies, and it helps them continue to grow.”

Patterson said the current project does not include any tax incentives from the GCEDC.

“The original IDA (Industrial Development Agency) tax abatements were given to Alpina when they built the facility. There is no new additional IDA money that way for that (but) there would be on any future expansion.”

HP Hood to be awarded Economic Development Partner of the Year at GCEDC annual meeting

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) has announced that HP Hood will receive the Economic Development Partner of the Year award at the agency’s annual business meeting on Friday, March 6 at Batavia Downs.

Approximately 250 business, government, community and economic developments leaders are expected to attend the annual meeting.

HP Hood is one of the country’s largest branded food and beverage companies with 13 manufacturing plants throughout the United States. More than 250 food and beverage professionals are now employed at HP Hood’s Batavia facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Theresa Bresten, vice president and treasurer for HP Hood, will be accepting the award on behalf of the company.

“Since opening its doors in Genesee County in 2017, HP Hood has been a model for success,” said GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde. “The company continues to create jobs and is the latest success story in Genesee County’s proud dairy industry.”

HP Hood has invested more than $200 million in expanding, improving and operating its world-class 448,000-square-foot facility at the Agri-Business Park. The facility occupies 82 acres there and it recently purchased 22 additional acres to accommodate future growth.

“HP Hood is honored to have been selected as the GCEDC 2020 Partner of the Year,” said Hood spokesperson Theresa Bresten. “We’re proud of the work we’ve done together to bring new jobs to the local community.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with GCEDC in enriching the economy of Genesee County and New York.”

The theme of the 2020 annual meeting is “Success Starts Here,” including the growth of Batavia’s food and beverage hub.

In the past 10 years, companies in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park and surrounding companies have invested more than $500 million into facilities that employ more than 700 professionals and operate over 1 million square feet of operations.

The event will focus on the GCEDC’s business accomplishments in 2019 and economic development goals and objectives for 2020.

Register to attend the GCEDC Annual Meeting and Luncheon by visiting GCEDC.com.

Authentically Local