Groundbreaking for Byrne Dairy Store in Cortland Tentatively Begins this Winter

(Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith/The Cortland Voice).

The potential Byrne Dairy store at the corner of Port Watson and River Street in the city of Cortland is close to fruition.

If Byrne Dairy gets approvals for some variances by the city’s zoning board of appeals in November, the Syracuse-based dairy company could break ground on its new store in Cortland this winter, said Byrne Dairy vice president Christian Brunelle.

The possible store would be 4,232-square-feet, with 25 parking spaces that includes four gas pumps and eight fuel stations.

Brunelle noted that site work for the store would start in February and wrap up late into the spring season. If site work stays on schedule, the store could open by July of 2022, he added.

In July of this year, the city’s planning commission tabled the finalization of the site plan, due to concerns from residents who live nearby the property. However, the planning commission eventually approved the site plan by a 5-0 vote at its August meeting.

The city’s Common Council recently approved 6-2 for a zone change on the property where the store could be built. The approval allowed the city to merge two residential zoning parcels with a general business zoning parcel to make a completely new general business parcel.

Corporation Counsel Ric Van Donsel said at the Oct. 19 Common Council meeting that the change is the “proper zoning, environmental and economic development move for the future.”

“It’s being zoned appropriately,” said Bruce Tytler, a 3rd-ward councilperson and city mayoral candidate in this year’s election. “It’s what that property needs.”

Councilperson Tom Michales (R-8th Ward), who voted against the zone change, expressed concern for the current flow of traffic on Port Watson Street. He was also concerned that the implementation of the store would increase traffic.

Despite Michales’ concerns, some council members assured him that based on several traffic studies in the area, traffic has decreased the past few years.

Councilperson Katy Silliman mentioned she has heard from others that businesses revolving around the potential Byrne Dairy store would increase their property value.

“That (abandoned) building there right now (at the corner of Port Watson and River Street) has been an eye sore for a very long time,” she said.

Brunelle said he is looking forward to having Byrne Dairy continue to be part of the city of Cortland, adding the company has been in the city for the past 40 years.