Planners recommend digester at Nicholas Meats
By JOHN RISHEL
LOCK HAVEN — Nicholas Meats LLC is one step closer to completion of a project to build and run an anaerobic digester wastewater treatment plant and composting operations on the former Getty’s Farm property north of Route 880 from the main plant. Nicholas Meats acquired the 40.7 acre property in 2017.
Nicholas Meats is a slaughtering house and meat processing plant at 508 East Valley Road in rural Greene Township, owned by Gene Nicholas. The firm has been in business in the Clinton County area for over 30 years. The operation currently has about 220 people on site every day, including contractors and inspectors.
The proposed new facility will include a wastewater treatment system and waste-to-energy technology to both upgrade its management of liquid and solid wastes generated in its facility and greatly improve the environmental and energy footprint of its operations.
The digester will break down the waste products from the plant and turn it into fertilizer.
In 2017, upon purchase, the company requested a zoning change in regards to the new property. A strip of that property, along the road, was zoned residential, and the rest was zoned agriculture/conservation. Nicholas Meats asked that the zoning be changed to industrial. After the hearing, the township supervisors voted unanimously to rezone the land as Nicholas Meats requested.
Proposed plans include the construction of a new entrance to the plant and an enlarged parking area. The hope is to alleviate traffic problems caused by trucks coming and going from the property.
Brian Miller, a Nicholas Meats employee who is responsible for the development of the land, and Ned Slope, project engineer, presented their proposal to the Clinton County Planning Commission on Tuesday night.
“The primary purpose is to manage waste streams coming out of the facility. The digester is for animal waste only, no human waste,” said Miller. “This is a costly project and the return on investment will be very long, but we want to be a sustainable operation. We want to be a model of what slaughter houses are supposed to be. We’re working toward a zero-discharge plant. That’s our overall goal, to work toward improving our environmental imprint as much as we can.”
He said the proposed digester will be capped and under roof, and will “significantly mitigate” the smells. Odor was “one of the primary catalysts for doing this project,” he told the county planners.
The digester will produce methane gas which Nicholas Meats plans to put to good use, he said.
Slope noted that the project includes a “substantial amount of earth moving,” noting that the company hopes to push all the treatment facilities as far north as possible to cause minimal impact to the Route 880 community.
Miller said plans have been submitted to the Greene Township planning board for approval of a conditional use. Nicholas hopes to establish a sustainable enclosed system and process to eliminate byproduct waste, he said.
The board made a motion to recommend approval of the project, but director Katherine de Silva noted that approval should be conditional on Nicholas Meats obtaining all the relevant permits needed before proceeding.
The planning board also received land development plans in Flemington Borough for Susquehannock Heights, a planned $8 million development to provide 32 units of affordable senior housing. The site is along the Flemington/Lock Haven boundary line, a long-vacant wooded two-acre parcel just to the west of the Youngs Avenue/Linden Street intersection. Plans call for a 32-unit elderly facility owned and operated by the SEDA-COG Housing Development Corporation.
Under the proposed plans, an access road will be added and existing playground equipment at the location will be removed.
Chad Stafford, from PennTerra Engineering Inc., said the facility will have 38 parking spaces and specific driveways for drop offs and visitors.
Stafford also noted that he is working with the zoning officers to connect the new driveway to the existing street system.
“We have been working with SEDA-COG since 2015 on this development,” he said. “It will have a porch area and an outdoor terrace looking over the stream and we will try to preserve the large trees. It is a beautiful area back behind that property,” Stafford said.
Stafford notes that Susquehannock Heights would not be a privately owned nursing facility, with market rate units and subsidized units available.
“There would be an age limitation and a financial limitation. It would be based upon their income, along with state and local funding,” he said.
The planning commission made a motion to review comments from the borough regarding this project, with de Silva noting that Susquehannock’s final site plans were “well done” aside from the lack of a “signature block” for county review.