To meet a growing demand for Hershey products, the Hershey Company has pushed forward the goal to construct a nearly 250,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at the site of the former Friendly’s restaurant along Route 422 in Derry Township.
The company presented sketch plans for the facility, dubbed “Project Milton,” to the Derry Township Planning Commission on July 14. Those sketches reveal a 95-foot-tall facility and warehouse with parking lots, office space, rail spur connections and a bike path along Reese Avenue.
It would be built on land that The Hershey Company already owns, a 55-acre tract of open fields that’s between the H.B. Reese Candy Company Plant and the Technical Center.
However, Hershey hasn’t identified what products in its candy or snack lines might be produced in the facility.
Kenny Hinebaugh, Project Manager for The Hershey Company, told The Sun, “We don’t know. It really is conceptual. This is meant to be a by-right plan in the sense that we have this land, what can we do with it?”
A Conceptual Plan
Hinebaugh’s comments echo a statement given to The Sun from Allison Kleinfelter, Senior Director for Corporate Communications for The Hershey Company, who described the plan “as conceptual at this stage.” She also pointed to the creation of other facilities.
Our growth has included significant investments the past few years in facilities and equipment across the United States, including investments here in our home area with the completion of the new Annville Fulfillment Center.
In 2021, the Hershey Company reported a 10.1% rise in sales and saw a 16.1% revenue increase during the first quarter of 2022. The company has also extended that growth into expanding its line of salty snacks, acquiring two pretzel brands in 2021 for $1.2 billion.
When asked by The Sun, Hinebaugh said he isn’t aware of any intention from the company to use the site’s proximity to other plants to shift around production to the new facility.
Job Creation and Truck Traffic
Just down the road, the Annville Fulfillment Center off Route 422 in South Annville Township, is an 800,000-square-foot facility that employs about 350 people, but for “Project Milton,” it’s too early to know how many jobs the facility might create.
“You notice that when we showed parking,” Hinebaugh said, “that parking matches the parking that was set at Friendly’s. There’s a hundred spaces, but again, it kind of offsets what we would do for traffic.”
The sketch plan includes three entrances, two of which will serve as access points for tractor trailers. The Sun reported last year that the supervisors were considering vacating or “returning” a predominantly commercial portion of Reese Avenue between University Drive and Millard Street to The Hershey Company.
The expected benefit would’ve been deterring trucks exiting the Reese plant from cutting through Millard Street and into the Swatara Station neighborhood. Theresa Peschel, a resident in attendance, voiced dismay that the new facility could funnel more traffic down her street.
“Unless you really rigorously enforce the traffic from all of the employees, they’re going to fan out through my little bitty neighborhood,” she said.
Ron Secary, principal engineer for Pennoni engineering company, assured that traffic studies and stormwater reports will be conducted, while Hinebaugh noted it’s “ultimately on the township to enforce.”
The next phase of “Project Milton” will require Hershey to file preliminary land development plans to the township.