Sewer shuffle leads to business expansion (5/6/10)

E.J.’s Kid’s Klub and Green Mountain Coffee plan to grow

May 6, 2010

By Greg Duggan

Observer staff

The property owner of a Green Mountain Coffee Roasters warehouse has cleared a major hurdle in allowing the company to expand in Williston.

Bob Miller of Miller Realty Group owns a 22,500-square-foot building on Marshall Avenue. Waterbury-based Green Mountain Coffee leases the majority of the space for warehouse, distribution and service operations, and wants to expand into the remaining 7,500 square feet. E.J.’s Kids Klub, a daycare that occupies the 7,500-square-foot portion of the building, was willing to relocate. But to do so, the daycare needed to obtain excess sewer capacity from the town.

Miller appeared with Laurel Morin, the owner of E.J.’s, before the Selectboard on Monday night to request more than 1,000 gallons from the town’s excess sewer capacity for the daycare’s new site. Town bylaws allow the Selectboard to grant sewer capacity from the so-called Specific Development reserve fund to businesses. To sweeten the deal, Miller offered to give the town approximately 1,000 unused gallons that he holds. Ordinances do not allow Miller to transfer his sewer capacity directly to Morin’s business.

Miller said he wanted to accommodate Green Mountain Coffee’s desires to expand rather than risk having the company leave Williston. Though he said the coffee roaster had not threatened to leave town, he added, “If we can’t satisfy their needs, they’re going to go where they can be satisfied.”

Sandy Yusen, director of public relations for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, said the company has plans to continue expanding in Williston, Waterbury and other locations in the country, and prefers to grow in existing facilities when possible.

“We’re continually thinking ahead to make sure we have the right facilities to support our staff and growth,” Yusen said.

Green Mountain Coffee expects to use the additional space for offices, Yusen said.

More than just accommodating Green Mountain Coffee, Miller also wanted to help Morin find a new space for her daycare. He offered to let her lease space in another of his properties, but Morin found a building to purchase at 45 Ave. D. With the sewer allocation, the new property will allow her to expand from a capacity of 112 to 140 children.

After some debate over the proper procedures for doling out sewer capacity under the Specific Development category, the Selectboard approved the allocation and opened the doors for the business expansions.

Selectboard member Chris Roy noted that the approval should keep jobs in Williston and benefit working families in need of daycare.

Morin agreed, and on Tuesday said, “Everyone is working together to keep everybody whole and successful.”

Morin hopes to close on the property at Avenue D within 30 days, then renovate and open her new facility by Sept. 1.

“(Monday) night was a big hurdle for us,” she said. “We just have a few bits and pieces now. The purchase looks quite promising.”

The sewer capacity transfers leave the town with approximately 4,500 gallons of excess capacity for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.