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Local water bottling company rebuilding after February fire

PERU Frosty Springs Bottling Company, operated by Don and Linda Covel, suffered a tremendous blow when its water bottling and warehouse buildings were entirely destroyed in an early morning fire Feb. 3. During the Christmas holiday time, when people look for reasons to celebrate, the Covels finally have cause for optimism because reconstruction of the buildings has begun. Shortly after the fire almost 11 months ago Mr. Covel anticipated the new building to be built within 90 days. Complying with government regulations required to rebuild the business, however, wasn't quite as simple as he had envisioned. Now, Mr. Covel said, "I hope to be bottling by March 1." Located at 842 Mannix Road, Frosty Springs Bottling Company falls under several regulatory jurisdictions including the Adirondack Park Agency, the Town of Peru, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Clinton County Health Department. Town of Peru Zoning Official Paul Blaine said the Covels have complied with zoning and building code requirements and that he has a good working relationship with Francis Menard, the general contractor for the water plant project. When the Covels requested a building permit, Mr. Blaine was of the opinion the bottling plant required a zoning variance because be believed it was located in a restrictive Hamlet-2 zone. Mr. Blaine also questioned the claim the bottling operation was an agricultural use, believing the operations being performed were better described under the zoning law's definition of commercial use. "In the years since the business began, the building had been enlarged and there were more employees," Mr. Blaine explained. "I didn't believe that it fell under the zoning law's definition of agriculture use." Ultimately, the Peru Zoning Board of Appeals agreed with the Covels' contention the business was located in a less restrictive Rural Lands 1 zone and its use was agricultural; hence a variance was not required. In early November, anticipating a long APA approval process, the Covels actually began construction of a water bottling facility on a portion of their property that lies outside the Adirondack Park's boundaries. When APA approval was received faster than expected Nov. 21, they ceased construction at that site and reverted to their plan to rebuild on the site of the original structure. The APA stated the Covels had constructed the plant in 1990 without the required APA permits. Describing the project as "industrial and commercial use" the agency set forth certain conditions including: a requirement to undertake the project as described in the application, a limit on hours of operation, a requirement for APA approval for any future principal building construction, and other restrictions or limits regarding the buildings' exterior colors, outdoor lighting, wetland impact, wastewater treatment, vegetative screening and water production. While the Covels haven't been able to produce several products over the past months, they have been able to supply their home and business customers with five-gallon water bottles thanks to an agreement with a Massachusetts-based water bottling company. "There hasn't been any profit," Mr. Covel said. "We've been trying to maintain our customer base. It costs $920 to transport every truckload from Massachusetts." "The customers have been tremendously patient and supportive and we thank them," Mr. Covel added. The new 9,040-square-foot pole structure is slightly smaller than the previous building. The building's design provides for improved storage and good office space. The cost, including the new bottling equipment, is estimated to be about $600,000. When Frosty Springs Bottling Company resumes its bottling operations, the Covels' plan to hire two more full-time employees bringing the companys number of full-time employees to seven. The company distributes products in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties.

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