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Local company's expansion hinges on road improvements



ROTOBEC
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A material handling company, Rotobec (pictured here, in Littleton) wants to expand to Groveton and offer 150 jobs to the area, but is reliant on an access road, Brown Road, being upgraded do to weight restrictions. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
November 20, 2018
GROVETON — A material handling company, Rotobec, wants to expand in Groveton at the industrial site, and is reliant upon using Brown Road in Groveton for access. The town is working with the Department of Transportation on options and the town will vote on taking over the road in March. The company is offering 150 jobs.

Initially. the company had a setback due to restrictions on the access road. The company said it would move elsewhere if the state did not provide a waiver to use to road. Former Executive Councilor Joseph Kenney and some Northumberland selectmen met with the Department of Transportation, and a verbal agreement was made and a waiver for the first phase was granted.

The Northumberland Board of Selectmen met earlier last month and discussed concerns with the state formula. Town companies and agencies can get waivers for road use but private sectors must receive waivers from the state, if applicable. The issue for Rotobec is that the company would have to use Brown Road as an access road, and there are weight restrictions, especially during the muddy months of spring. The company requires one or two trucks per day at 15 tons or less, and one per month at 80,000 pounds. The company would be over the restriction in the spring months.

Rotobec plans to erect 31,000 square foot building to be completed and operational within the next year, with 50 employees to start for phase 1, and another 100 for phase two.

Kenney had a meeting with the commissioner of the Department of Transportation recently which resulted in a verbal agreement that DOT would provide a waiver for the first phase. Afterwards, the company would have to pay to reconstruct the road which is estimated to cost about $800,000.

"My role was facilitating an agreement on both sides for economic development to move forward," said Kenney in a phone interview. "They [Rotobec] would not agree to move there unless they get a waiver on that restriction. Rotobec made it clear that they would not use their loader trucks until late next year."

"There, and places like NSA are very significant," he continued. "It adds to the in-and-out population, which could help increase employment by 12 to 13 percent in the town. We are actively pursuing other companies to transfer here."

"We need to retain what we have and expand beyond that," he concluded.

At a Nov. 5 town meeting, Selectman Chris Wheelock reported that he met with DOT. He said that if Brown Road is brought up to standard, voters would decide in March on whether or not the town takes over the road.

At the DOT meeting, Paul Beaulieu of DOT suggested making whole the road up-to-par, but Wheelock's initial thought was that the town does has neither the money nor the manpower to do so.

The company is willing to partially invest in a mile of the road to get it up to specs up to the town garage on Craggy Road.

Wheelock said that state doesn't find any sense in re-surfacing the road just to dig it back up in a couple of years.

Rotobec agreed to deal with the road as is for the next year or so.

Wheelock added that Brown Road and a couple of other roads in the area do not get federal help because of their classification.

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