One week after the project’s groundbreaking, as if a foregone conclusion, the Clayton Town Council approved the master plan for Novo Nordisk’s $1.8 billion insulin-making plant just outside of town.
The council also gave the town planning department the authority to approve the project the rest of the way, as it comes in building by building.
Over the next four years, Novo Nordisk will turn a long-farmed cornfield into a 900,000-square-foot insulin-making plant, the company’s second in the world.
Gary Lohr, project manager for the company’s Clayton expansion, said the plant would have three main buildings, each handling a different stage of the manufacturing process: fermentation, recovery and purification. The new plant will produce an insulin pill that is currently in trials.
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With the number of diabetics worldwide approaching 400 million, Lohr said global demand for insulin necessitated the plant.
The expansion will be across Powhatan Road from Novo Nordisk’s current Clayton plant. Bailey Forrest of Fluor Corp., the company building the plant, said a construction entrance would be in place off of Gordon Road by 2017. The plant’s eventual main entrance will be along the northwest corner of the property on Powhatan Road.
“The peak construction will be in 2018, when we’ll have upwards of 3,000 workers on site,” Forrest told the council at its meeting last week. He estimated off-peak worker numbers to sway between 1,800 and 2,400 workers, but said the company would structure shifts to limit traffic congestion.
“The intent is for construction traffic to stay for the day,” Forrest said.
Novo owns 300 acres along Powhatan Road but will build the expansion on only 95 acres. The property is in a watershed-protection area, which mean Clayton limits paved parking and and other impervious surfaces. But Novo expects slightly more than 10 percent of the land to be impervious surfaces, which is well below Clayton’s 24-percent limit, said planning director David DeYoung.
While the project didn’t need a waiver for impervious surfaces, it did require one for the expected height of the plant’s buildings, which the council granted.
Clayton limits building height to 50 feet, but a number of the plant’s buildings will be 60 feet or more, with the fermentation tower expected to reach 85 feet. When the planning board reviewed Novo’s requests, Lohr said the company would work with local fire departments to ease their concerns about putting out a fire in such a tall building.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson