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Friday, May 25th, 2007

Celina planning commission OKs warehouse site plan

Resident objects; says warehouse won't create many jobs

By Timothy Cox
Celina Planning Commission members authorized a site plan Thursday that will pave the way for a private warehouse in the city's Grand Lake Industrial Park.
Approval of the plan came despite objections from resident Paul Arnold, the city's former mayor. Arnold, who worked to create the industrial park, criticized city officials for allowing the move, which will bring minimal jobs to what was supposed to be the city's future job base.
"It does not meet the intention of an industrial park," Arnold said, noting the city has nearly $25,000 per acre invested in the land, which is fully developed with utilities and storm drainage. "My only objection is that it brings in no money."
Planning Commission members said applicant Toni Slusser had fulfilled the necessary requirements and that they had no legal standing to block her plans. Some also noted it would be difficult to site a job-intensive building on such a small tract of land, which is zoned for heavy manufacturing (M-1).
"You're not going to get heavy manufacturing on small lots," city development consultant Kent Bryan said.
Slusser said she plans to build a warehouse on approximately 3.8 acres to house about 30 antique tractors and other vehicles now housed in four separate locations. The city's price tag for that land is nearly $100,000.
There would be no storage space for rent and the warehouse would not run as a business, although it would be owned by a limited liability corporation, Slusser said.
Slusser showed commission members elevation drawings that show an attractive building with lots of exterior glass. The 10,000-square-foot building would sit between Havemann Road and state Route 29 at the easternmost edge of the industrial park, which now has only one tenant, Versa-Pak.
"We want the building to have curb appeal," Slusser said. "I like to see the gateways to Celina nice; with appeal."
Slusser said she and other partners have looked at sites in Rockford, Coldwater, Fort Recovery and elsewhere in Celina. They want to build the storage facility in Celina because that is where they all live, she said.
Commission member Tom Hone said he was reticent to allow private-use development on land intended for industrial growth, but said Slusser had done her "homework" and offered a legitimate plan.
Arnold said he hoped Safety-Service Director Jeff Hazel had done his "homework" regarding the stipulations of the grant and loan programs tapped to help pay for the development of the industrial park.
Celina City Council member Ed Jeffries said, who attended Thursday's meeting as an observer, said commission members should not stand in the way of any new development at the site.
"How long have we owned that park? Nobody's run our door down wanting to build something out there," Jeffries said.
Commission members voted 4-0 to authorize the site plan, contingent on the facility having paved or concrete drives and parking areas and contingent on drainage calculations to be approved by city engineering staff.
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