October 22, 2021

Byrne plans new Cortland store

Proposal raises concerns about environment, neighboring businesses

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Byrne Dairy proposes building a convenience store and gas station at the site of the former CNY Rentals at Port Watson and River streets in Cortland, across the street from Bill Bros. Dairy, which sells a similar inventory.

A proposed Byrne Dairy convenience store at Port Watson and River streets in Cortland has raised concerns about potential affects on the environment and neighboring businesses.

The plan by Sonbyrne Inc. to build a Byrne Dairy gas station, grocery and deli at the northwest corner of the intersection would devastate nearby businesses, said John Sears, owner of the Bill Brothers Dairy and Farm Market across Port Watson Street from the site.

“It’s going to kill my business,” Sears said Tuesday. “Everything we sell, they sell. They also have the gas.”

The company did not return a message Tuesday seeking comment.

The company wants to build a 4,232- square-foot convenience store on three contiguous properties, the former site of CNY Rentals and two residential lots.

It plans 27 parking spaces to meet city code, but landscaping and screening could be an issue, according to a project description drafted by the county Planning Department.

The department recommended approval of the project, with a long list of recommendations.

The store would be open 24 hours a day and have four fuel pumps.

Sears said he plans to attend a county Planning Board meeting 6:30 p.m. today at 37 Church St. to raise his concerns. The project will need approvals from the city and county to continue.

Sears questioned the need for the project, noting there are gas stations in Polkville to the east and farther west on Port Watson Street.

He said in addition to his business, the CoffeeMania kiosk at Port Watson and Pomeroy streets and the East Side Bakery a few blocks away on Elm Street would lose business to the Byrne Dairy store.

Amanda Barber, manager of the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District, said her agency has raised concerns about the potential the project could affect the Tioughnioga River about 750 feet to the east.

“Its location is such that there is risk to the river via groundwater and surface water,” Barber said.

The site is located above the aquifer, an underground drinking water source for the city and neighboring municipalities, but it is not upstream from public drinking water wells, she said.

The project would also require a state permit for storm water discharge, as it covers more than an acre, Barber said.

The company needs permission to change the zoning for one of three properties it wants to buy on Port Watson Street from residential to general business and other approvals from the city to proceed with its project.

Byrne recently constructed a gas station and convenience store on Route 281 in the village of Homer and operates a convenience store without a gas station on Groton Avenue in Cortland. The company was turned down in 2018 when it proposed a larger facility on Tompkins Street in Cortlandville.