WEBSTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Most farmers would look at the 146-acre site on State Road in Webster and see rows of food soaking in both sun and water in the warmer months, but those with CEA Fresh Farms see something different.
“This is going to be a very happy campus,” says Kevan Fight, CEO of CEA Fresh Farms at a public forum Wednesday evening. “And provide actually healthy, clean, really tasty, really good food if you will.”
Fight wants to take the land and build a facility for indoor agriculture, food produced under lights, year-round.
Fight says this project could generate 375 local jobs over five years, and about 400 indirect jobs for the county. It’s something the Town Supervisor calls a positive.
“It’ll certainly help the economy with Xerox leaving town, they’ve been laying off people, not employing people,” says Ronald Nesbitt, Webster Town Supervisor.
Fight says the factory will also give access to a wide customer base.
“Just the logistics, of having the ability to reach within 400 miles, almost 90 million people,” he says.
But many neighbors of the proposed site do not share in this enthusiasm.
“It’s going to be horrible. It’s going to be horrible,” says Chris Provenzano who lives next to the site.
“This is an agricultural site. That should be on an industrial site. It has nothing to do with traditional farming,” says Connie Thornton who lives across the street.
“The plan has paving, and excessive lighting,” says Katie Chamberlin who lives down the road.
“It’s going to have massive buildings, parking lots, infrastructure,” adds Provenzano.
The residents also say the land is contaminated from years of dumping back in the 1970’s, something Fight says they will remedy.
“We’re going to do it right, okay? So anything that needs to be taken care of will be cleaned up prior to any building or anything like that,” says Fight.
CEA Fresh Farms will be proposing this project to the Webster Town Planning Board later this month. It’s expected to cost about $200 million. If approved, they could put shovels down by December.
There will be two more informational meetings for the public, Thursday November 7 at 7PM, and again on Saturday November 9 at 10AM at Webster Thomas High School.