KLN Development Plans Rejected, Snack Plant's Future "At Risk" - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

KLN Development Plans Rejected, Snack Plant's Future "At Risk"

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Development plans for the KLN snack plant in Waterford are on hold. The Waterford Township Water Authority voted two-to-two on a developer's agreement for the company, defeating the motion.
 
 "We're at risk. We may have to shut down the company shortly after opening," said Brian Garlick, general manager for Waterford's branch of KLN Family Brands. 

Now the company's future, and hundreds of jobs, are in jeopardy. 

"I feel terrible about it. I feel terrible for the people who want jobs. It's a lose-lose situation now," said Flory Kondzielski, a voting member of the township's water authority, and a township supervisor. Kondzielski voted against the agreement. "But I stand by my vote for the residents of Waterford Township," he said. 


The two "yes" votes came  from water authority chairman Dave Morrison and vice chair John Orr. 

"Let them start construction and get jobs in Waterford Township. Get jobs in Erie County," Orr said to Pat Long during a discussion portion of the meeting. Long is a water authority board member who voted against the agreement. 


Both the chair, Morrison, and vice chair, Orr, resigned after the vote failed.  

Had it passed, the agreement would have extended Waterford's public sewer and water lines by one mile to reach the plant, with the project bill footed by KLN. 

The Waterford Borough voted to approve the agreement last week and the Waterford Township supervisors approved the agreement on Thursday. The Water-Sewer Authority's vote was the last needed to give the green light on the pipeline extension. 

"It's very disheartening. We're talking about many, many jobs going into the future, and now this whole project is really in jeopardy," said Ed DiMatteo, Erie County Council chairman. 


"Unless we get that water and sewer line, we're not going to be a long-term, viable company," Garlick said. 

But KLN's agreed upon start date with their low-bid contractor expires on Friday, meaning KLN will either need to renegotiate prices, or re-bid entirely.

With a limited construction season and the project estimated to require 110 days, the failed agreement could delay KLN's ability to be fully operational by one year.    

A drawn-out conflict between the Waterford borough's and the township's water authorities led to Thursday night's two-to-two vote from the township authority. 

"My position is, I work for the township residents. And I will not, I will not have the township residents bear somebody else's expense on their backs," Kondzielski said. 


Sticking points included which authority would be responsible for the extended pipeline's repairs, and the level of control over the water allocated to each authority. 

"These issues should've been brought up a long time ago, not in the last hour when KLN is trying to come to your community. To throw these wrenches in right at the end," Garlick said in frustration to the board during the meeting. 

"It's something that should have been very cut and dry. Replace a chip plant with a chip plant. Should be very, very easy," DiMatteo said. The KLN snack plant purchased the building and land of the old Troyer Farms plant. 

"After five months, the governing bodies could not reach an agreement. I find that very upsetting," DiMatteo said. KLN submitted their original pipeline extension plan in January. 

Kondzielski says the outcome was unfortunate, but unavoidable. 

"We have been working diligently since the beginning of the year. The township authority, the water-sewer authority. And it just never came to fruition. Just too many stumbling blocks put in our way," Kondzielski said. "At the last minute, they want to blame the Waterford Water-Sewer Authority and that is not right, that is not right whatsoever," he said. 


KLN still plans to launch in July using well water, but it's a short-term, small-scale option. 

There are already nearly 1,000 applicants for the 70 jobs for the July launch. With the pipeline, KLN says they would've been up to 125 employees by October. 

Given their heavy investment in equipment and land, KLN doesn't plan to leave Waterford, but the future is hazy. 


"The time table is very unclear to us now. This just happened, so we have to look ahead to figure out what we can do to keep our business functional," Garlick said. 


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