GEORGIA – Global pharmaceutical company Perrigo Nutritionals submitted a concept plan with the Town of Georgia last month detailing a proposed expansion to its formula plant in the Georgia Dairy Industrial Park.

That concept plan, describing an eight-acre expansion to the project’s east, was brought before the planning commission in late May, returning after Perrigo first floated the expansion before the commission in April.

Much of the information presented during the project’s engineers’ meeting with the planning commission in May echoed those presented in April.

Perrigo was looking into several expansion opportunities, according to Ben Heath, the vice president at Donald L. Hamlin Consulting Engineers, the Essex-based firm assigned to the expansion’s concept plan in Georgia.

“It’s still in the concept phase,” Heath said. “They’re still considering their options in terms of where the best places to perform their expansion to their manufacturing facilities are.”

According to Heath, everyone from the Towns of Georgia and Milton to Gov. Phil Scott’s office had received information about Perrigo’s proposed expansion. Their feedback, according to Heath, had been largely positive.

“There’s been an overall willingness to support this project,” Heath said. “It’s really helped to show Perrigo that Vermont is a great place to do this project… This positive support from the state and from the town has really helped them to continue to look at this site as a potential option for doing this expansion.”

He also said Perrigo was aiming to have its permitting done by the end of 2019 and early 2020.

The first phase of a two-phase project plan described by Heath would see vegetation removed from the densely forested project site to the existing formula plant’s east. Buildings and utilities would also be removed from a clearing within that site.

Much of that forest area would be cleared for the project site, save for a ring of trees left to serve as a buffer for the expansion.

A larger buffer would be preserved to the project site’s north and, according to Heath, Perrigo was actively looking to avoid impacting any wetlands with its expansion.

Perrigo would then build its 372,000-square-foot expansion during the project’s second phase, with facilities towering somewhere between 120 and 140 feet to allow room for the plant’s dryers and an expansion to Perrigo’s industrial waste treatment plant located further east from the project site.

Office portions of Perrigo’s proposed building would only be two-stories high, keeping with Georgia’s height requirements in its building codes.

According to Heath, there’d be additional infrastructure improvements in that industrial park, such as lighting, stormwater and an extension to Industrial Park Road.

The layout Heath presented to Georgia’s planning commission was only a rough outline to provide size and scale. Per Heath, more particular details would likely change as the project enters a design phase.

In order to comply with Georgia’s zoning regulations that forbid more than one “principle building” per parcel, Perrigo is proposing that its three parcels within the project area be constituted as a single Planned Unit Development, which would allow for multiple structures and settling a concern levied by the planning commission during their April hearing with Perrigo.

Perrigo Nutritional’s Georgia plant employs about 400 people, making it one of Franklin County’s larger employers.

When the project was previously presented to the Georgia planning commission, its project manager, Stan Bradeen, had said Perrigo wasn’t planning on expanding employment as a part of its proposed physical expansion in Georgia.

“It will expand capacity,” Bradeen said, according to an article by VTDigger. “There is a market opportunity here for Perrigo; that is a great thing for Perrigo and the longevity of the plant. Even though we’re not planning on expanding much in terms of employment, we’re not losing it. There may be a little increase to meet a larger market.”

While Perrigo Nutritionals is based out of Ireland, it maintains production facilities worldwide and conducts most of its sales within the U.S.

Perrigo produces infant formula in Ohio and Vermont, with that formula later sold under a variety of labels at large retailers like Wal-Mart and Target.

The Messenger reported in 2014 that Perrigo’s annual formula sales amount to $250 million here and abroad.

In 2013, Perrigo invested $29 million in expanding its Georgia plant’s packaging system.

The Troy Daily News reported last month that construction had already begun on an $8 million expansion to Perrigo’s formula plant in Ohio.