Lewis Planning Board approves expanded Kraft Heinz plans

Expansion plans at the Kraft Heinz plant here continue to expand.

The Lewis County Planning Board on Tuesday voted 4-0 to approve an amended site plan that now includes 103,353 square feet of additions to the Utica Boulevard cream cheese manufacturing plant; that’s up from 75,848 square feet in a previously approved plan.

A second phase of the ongoing expansion project is to include a 24,433-square-foot cooler addition off the southern front corner of the plant and smaller additions in the back for boilers and ammonia and mixing tanks.

That work is to be added to the original plans, which included a 67,756-square-foot string cheese addition in the rear of the plant, a 5,923-square-foot receiving bay addition on the north side and a 2,169-square-foot two-pack addition on the front; however, 21,400 square feet of the current plant will be demolished first.

The village Planning Board, which approved the first-phase plans in March, has set a public hearing on the amended plans for 6 p.m. June 6 at the Lowville municipal building off Bostwick Street.

Along with the additional construction, the amended plans would extend the front parking area closer to the street and create a new entrance for milk trucks at the neighboring Lowville Producers Dairy Cooperative property, allowing for milk testing before trucks continue on to the plant, county Planning Director Frank J. Pace said.

“That actually makes it much better,” said Planning Board member David L. Becker, also the county highway superintendent.

Mr. Pace agreed, saying the plans would create a “good flow” for truck traffic.

The project is being designed by Excel Engineering Inc., Fond du Lac, Wis.

The village Zoning Board of Appeals in April granted Kraft Heinz a variance allowing up to 40 percent lot coverage by buildings, as village code allows for only 35 percent, Mr. Pace said. Even with the extra additions, the project would still fall around the 37 percent coverage mark, he said.

Shift scheduling at the plant is being planned to avoid parking issues, and a discussion about landscaping along Utica Boulevard is to be discussed by the village Planning Board at its June meeting, Mr. Pace said.

The state Department of Transportation has submitted a letter stating the state agency will not require a permit for the project, he said.

By Steve Virkler, Watertown Daily Times