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Chester County Press

New Garden board grants approval to Purolite, LLC to occupy Starr Road facility

04/18/2023 04:07PM ● By Richard Gaw

Photo by Richard L. Gaw                     The New Garden Township Board of Supervisors gave conditional use approval at their April 17 meeting to Purolite, LLC that permits the company to operate the former W.L. Gore building at 380 Starr Road in Landenberg as a manufacturing facility.

By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer

By a vote of 5-0 at an April 17 hearing, the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors gave conditional use approval to Purolite, LLC to open a resin-based, purification and extraction manufacturing facility at the currently vacant building at 380 Starr Road in the township.

The hearing, which was continued from a two-hour conditional use hearing held at the Township Building on March 20, served to provide testimony from Purolite Senior Project Manager Michael Murphy and David Citro, the director of civil engineering for the Mainstay Engineering Group, who is serving as the project manager for Purolite’s new building.

Following a two-year redevelopment process – in accordance with the township’s zoning ordinance -- the 12-acre, 107,000 square-foot Starr Road facility will serve as a manufacturing and distribution center for Purolite in the making of Agarose resin beads, a material extracted from certain types of seaweed that is frequently used in molecular biology for separation of large molecules and protein purification.

Headquartered in King of Prussia, Purolite is a world leader in resin-based separation, purification and extraction technology, and produces more than 1,000 active commercial products that serve the environmental, business and healthcare industries. It employs over 1,000 staff around the world across 40 sales centers, five research and development centers and five manufacturing sites.

‘White elephant in the township

From a usage standpoint, the reopening of the facility will bring new life to a location that has served as a white elephant in the township since it was vacated by W.L. Gore in 2018 after having served as a branch facility for the company beginning in 2008. As Murphy spelled out at the March 20 hearing, the site will provide high-skill jobs for over 100 employees, and operate on a seven-day, 24-hour basis. 

Conducted by attorney Winifred Sebastian and Michael Gill, Esq. an attorney with the law firm of Buckley Brio in West Chester, the hearing discussed the land development plan for the project that was submitted to the township on April 12. Citro and Murphy each provided a broad overview of the building’s upgrades and use of the facility once its land development site plan is put into motion.

The improvements to the facility, Citro said, will include a 7,280 square-foot utility shed, a 500 square-foot raw materials storage shed, an underground fire water containment tank that will be held in concrete vault, an above-ground fire suppression water tank, an underground stormwater management system and a 7,125 square-foot tank farm and adjacent pump house.

Referring to several exhibits introduced by Gill into the hearing, Citro said that the facility will maintain a screen buffer along Starr Road in accordance with the township’s zoning ordinance and include several bushes and plantings; that the township’s traffic engineer has agreed that no traffic study will be required for the Purolite facility; that the company is proposing no changes to site access or the current parking configuration, which will provide for 222 vehicles; and that Purolite will use the two existing loading areas at the building and not construct any additional docks.

Referring to issues raised by a township resident during the hearing, Murphy said with certain exceptions, Purolite will make truck deliveries and wastewater export during “normal business hours,” which he estimated to be from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.  While the site will be in operation 24 hours a day, Murphy said that outdoor lighting will be reduced during evening hours, and that construction work at the site will mostly occur inside the building.

The hearing also heard testimony from Gregory Landis, a program project director with the engineering firm of Integrated Project Services, LLC – the engineer of record for the Purolite development project -- who attended a meeting between the project’s developers and residents whose homes are in the vicinity of the Starr Road facility. He said that the meeting included a tour of the property and addressing neighbors’ concerns for the development plan.

In his closing remarks, Gill said that the development of 380 Starr Road “presents an opportunity to return to productive use a significant property in the township that is zoned for light and limited industrial use and which is proposed for exactly that type of use.

“The nature of the use as described in testimony and the nature of improvements and the nature of those improvements are entirely consistent with the [township] ordinance,” Gill said. “As it has been flushed out by testimony and exhibits, this proposal falls squarely within the conditional use allowance for light and limited industrial use in the unified development district.

“On top of that, Purolite is a world-class operator and a responsible operator. The product that is to be produced is benign but highly valuable. Purolite’s use of the property will bring a significant number of highly-skilled jobs, not only to this site which has sat unused for far too long, but to the township in general.”

Murphy, Citro and Landis agreed to the conditions of the approval that were shared by Sebastian at the conclusion of the hearing. 

In other township business

The supervisors approved a preliminary land development plan – and three of four waiver requests – for the Rouse Chamberlin townhomes development on 156-162 Bancroft Road in the township. The 26-acre project is planning to construct 98 single-family attached townhomes that are sized between 1,800 and 2,100 square feet. The board’s approval followed a March 22 Planning Commission meeting, when members unanimously recommended that the board approve the development plan and waiver requests.

The board gave unanimous approval to Jon Martin, the aviation director of the New Garden Flying Field, to send out a request for a proposal bid in order to transfer the assets from the New Garden Flight Connection to the Flying Field in the amount of $270,000. The assets include: a RedBird Desktop Flight Simulator ($2,000); Piper Cherokee 140 ($65,000); Cessna 150 ($45,000); Cessna 150 ($45,000); Cessna 172L ($108,000); as well as computers, and office furniture and equipment. Following the completion of the transaction, the New Garden Flight Connection will continue under the management of the New Garden Flying Field. 

The board also recognized through a resolution the upcoming retirement of Lewis Gay, the township’s director of finance and treasurer after a 17-year career with the township. Prior to joining the township in 2006, Gay served as a financial administrator for six local governments that included the Borough of Pottstown, Lancaster Parking Authority, the City of Reading, the City of Coatesville, Whitemarsh Township and West Goshen Township.

“I would like to thank all of the supervisors through the years, all of the employees and staff I have worked with, and various boards, commissions and authorities for all of your support and devotion to this township,” Gay said.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].