The Elizabethtown Borough Council approved plans for additions to the Mars Chocolate plant designed to make the candy bar factory that has been in place since 1915 more efficient.
Although the planned use of the property at 295 S. Brown St. is permitted by right in the general industrial zone, attorney Helen L. Gemmill said construction of greater than 10,000 square feet requires a conditional use approval from the Borough Council.
Brian Spray, an engineer with Rettew Associates, testified that the main construction would be the “bean receiving project,” which would receive cocoa beans, clean them for processing and roast them. Another, smaller addition that is planned is for the “positive release project,” which Spray said would move chocolate tanks due to aging infrastructure in the existing building.
Dan Lenz, a senior plant engineer for Mars, said the company’s plans would not add any employees to the plant.
Spray said the smaller project with the chocolate tanks could begin construction in the coming spring or summer; the bean receiving project is a longer-term plan.
“That will take a few extra years,” Spray said of the bean receiving plan.
In another matter, Trudy Johnston, a borough resident who is chief executive officer of Material Matters Inc., spoke during the public comment period about pollution credits. As she has done at previous meetings, she urged the borough to sell credits has earned because its sewage treatment plant does a better job of cleaning up wastewater than regulations require. Johnston said Elizabethtown has generated about 65,000 credits, and those have sold for an average of $4.16 this year, meaning the credits could be worth $270,000 if all were sold at that price.
Council President J. Marc Hershey noted that the city of Lancaster had offered considerably less than that average; its offer was $2.50 per credit. Councilor Bill Troutman noted that there is no guarantee that the borough would be able to sell all 65,000 credits.
Johnston acknowledged that Hershey and Troutman were correct, but said the borough could negotiate a higher price than $2.50, and she noted that Lancaster City, which she represents in her work, needs to purchase 31,633 credits and has been negotiating with various small traders. She said there are other potential buyers besides Lancaster. Johnston said she would not normally approach a local government to urge it to sell credits, but she is doing so because she lives in Elizabethtown.
“This one is unique because I live her and it’s a significant amount of money,” Johnston said.
The Borough Council had previously decided not to pursue credit trading this year, but to consider it in 2020. Hershey asked councilors if anyone wanted to change that; nobody made any motions to do so.