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Town of Batavia seeks status of lead agency for O-At-Ka project

BATAVIA – The town Planning Board approved a request from O-At-Ka Milk Products Cooperative on Tuesday night that the town seek the status of lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review in connection with the company’s planned $10 million expansion of its plant at Ellicott and Cedar streets.

“I plan to send a letter by Friday to the city and others involved, asking if they want to be the lead agency or if they have any objections to the town being the lead agency,” said Planning Board Chairwoman Kathleen Jasinski. “This has to be done before the SEQR and site plan can be approved.”

Jasinski said she expects that the project will move forward and that the Planning Board will take action on the O-At-Ka proposal at its next meeting, scheduled for July 21.

Thomas C. Malinowski, an architect for VIP Structures in Syracuse, and Michael Patterson, chief financial officer at O-At-Ka, were among those who represented the manufacturing firm at the meeting.

Malinowski noted that the Genesee County Planning Board recommended approval of the 230,000-square-foot project last week and that, earlier last night, the City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee acknowledged the town’s role as the potential lead agency.

O-At-Ka plans to add warehousing and office space to its facility, which is located both in the town and the city. About 80 percent of the new structures will be located in the town.

Patterson said O-At-Ka hopes to start construction by the end of the summer and complete the project within a year.

O-At-Ka has applied to the county Economic Development Center for more than $2 million in tax abatements, including $497,000 in sales tax waivers on the purchase of equipment and materials and $1.5 million on the property tax side. A public hearing will be scheduled before a decision can be made.

The expansion will create 21 jobs at O-At-Ka, which is owned by Upstate Niagara Cooperative and Dairy Farmers of America.