Massena mulls code change to add greenhouses

MASSENA — Town officials plan to schedule a public hearing to make an addition to their zoning code.

Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said officials need to add greenhouses to permissible operations in an industrial zone. The change is being made so those types of operations won’t need to seek a variance from the town’s Zoning Board.

“There’s nothing in there that talks about a greenhouse,” he said.

That would accommodate Confluent Energies, Inc., a Massachusetts-based firm that plans to build a hydroponic greenhouse on 40 acres of Arconic property. The company plans to use four 10-acre plots for the project and had received 16 megawatts of low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority.

The four-phase project would allow the company to produce leafy green vegetables, particularly lettuce, on a year-round basis. The product will be delivered by Confluence Energies, Inc.’s partner distributor to a market area located within a 24-hour driving radius of Massena to ensure product quality. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2020.

According to the company’s website, Confluent Energies, Inc. is principally focused on “developing and operating Advanced Technology Greenhouses (“ATG”) as the centerpiece of Phase III biorefineries.” Depending on the location, the energy to power and operate the biorefineries can come from several clean, renewable, recyclable sources such as cellulosic biomass, wind, solar, hydro, landfill gases.”

According to the town code, the I General Industrial Zone is currently “intended to provide for areas in the Town which industrial, manufacturing or other materials handling, processing and/or storage activities may take place with maximum economic and environmental feasibility and with minimum negative impact on residential, agricultural and commercial development.”

Uses that require site plan approval are manufacturing, assembling, converting, altering, finishing, cleaning, recycling or any other processing and incidental storage of products and materials; wholesaling, storage and warehousing; junkyards and dismantlers; research laboratories; truck and rail terminals and port facilities, including docking, fueling, loading and unloading; signs; waste storage and/or treatment facilities; and adult uses.

“We would have to have a public hearing and include (Confluent Energies) in the industrial zone if we want to allow them to able to put that there without having to apply for a variance,” Mr. O’Shaughnessy said.

He has tasked the Code Enforcement Office with adding greenhouses to the code in preparation for the public hearing.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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