MINUTES OF SPECIAL MEETING
Lecompton Planning & Zoning Commission
Re Rockwall Farms L. C. Rezoning
Lecompton City Offices
Monday, October 11, 2010
7: 00 pm
Chairman Jeff Robertson called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. All members of the commission were present: Jeff Robertson, Mary Jane Hoffer, Betty Corel, Elsie Middleton, Leigh Ann Woody, Kathy Paslay, and Brenda Hastert.
Others in attendance were: Jay Robertson, Bill Leslie, H. Wayne Riley, Paul Bahnmaier, Jennifer Smith, Marion S. Fugett, Bonny J. Fugett, Charlene Winter, Thomas Fritzel, Steve McClure, Richard D. Ice, Roy Paslay, and Sandy Nichols. Paul Werner of Werner Architects, Ross Freese, Mark Henderson and Steve Cooper with Berry Plastics, Scott McCullough with City of Lawrence Dg Co Planning, Beth Johnson with Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, Mary Miller Dg Co Planning Commission.
Chairman Robertson announced that the meeting was being recorded for the purpose of the minutes and that the tape would be destroyed immediately after the transcription. He further asked that those wishing to make public comments state their name before speaking. Each speaker was asked to limit their comments to three minutes.
Chairman invited the presenters to proceed. Paul Werner of Werner Architects distributed copies of the site plan to commission members and to the public then introduced Ross Freese, Mark Henderson and Steve Cooper with Berry Plastics. These four presented the proposed re-zoning plan.
Mr. Werner explained that the original plan included about 120 acres but has been pared down to about 95 acres. The site sits on roughly 60-65acres. Berry Plastics proposes a 675,000 sq. ft. industrial building of concrete, metal, non-combustible material and with lowering the grade will not be very visible from the road. Berry Plastics has been looking for a warehouse facility for several years.
Ross Freese, Engineer at Berry Plastics in Lawrence for several years stated Berry Plastics has been in Lawrence for approx. 43 years and about 4 years ago a new manufacturing process was added to the Lawrence plant called thermo-forming and Berry Plastics has invested about $80M in adding manufacturing space and cannibalizing former warehouse space. The plant is basically land locked, leading to a separate lease of 324 000sq ft space in SE Lawrence, another 233,000 sq ft in Pauline, Ks. and several hundred tractor trailers used for mobile storage. Not ideal business model for expansion. Berry wants to build a single outside warehouse location to enable cancellation of two leases and mobile storage to consolidate storage into a single warehouse facility. Looked at multiple sites, a few within city of Lawrence. Due to the size of the proposed facility it is difficult to find an ideal site with facility for expansion, which led to the selection of the site at E 700 Road. As the company began to look at the warehousing facility, they saw opportunities to relocate existing light manufacturing process, such as printing presses which are used to decorate products produced. So, it added approx 75000 sq ft to the proposed building to accommodate some office space as well as the printing presses. The advantage in moving printing processes creates 30-40,000 of available manufacturing space in
the existing plant which is nearly maxed out in terms of adding additional manufacturing equipment. The company started the search process in about 2006 had approx 360 employees, committed to 154 added jobs, now 840 so have far exceeded anticipated number of employees.
Mark Henderson echoed Ross’s comments and stated they were here to answer any questions.
Steve Cooper stated that the present location handicaps the company. He estimates the company looses about $100,000 if this warehouse is not built. There is a need to be cost effective within the Company. There are 78 manufacturing plants for Berry Plastics across the U. S. which compete for new equipment and process. The local plant has to be competitive and cannot ignore over $1M per year in logistics which makes this project even more important in the future. Besides the items mention earlier, it opens up a plan for adding more people, more processes to allow for future growth. It is an exciting and Berry Plastics hopes to be in the area another 43 years
Paul Werner, in anticipation of PC members’ questions, stated:
• Sewage – There will probability be a lagoon versus septic system, located to the north of the proposed building with possible expansion to the north. Currently doing soil samples to have it in the right location. Current plan is to set it down in the ground near the tree line to the west of the property.
• Water – Berry has met with Rural Water #6 and agreed to conduct a study with their engineering firm in Topeka to determine that another one inch water meter is OK and are talking about water line improvement along the Farmers Turnpike. Berry is waiting for their final decision regarding an additional water meter.
• Road – Farmers Turnpike has had substantial improvements over the past 2-3 years and the road is sufficient for the traffic, most of which will to from the proposed site to the Lecompton Turnpike Exchange.
• Fire – They plan a sprinkler system with 500,000 storage tank or, as proposed a pond. It is an excellent system which usually puts out the fire before the departments are called. It would be consistent with what happens in the Cities of Lawrence or Lecompton. The existing Berry operation and the City of Lawrence have the same system. It’s about having that volume of water to put out a fire.
• Traffic Study – Study has been conducted. The trucks are moving plastic trucks so they are not heavy weight carriers which equates to almost nothing in the semi-trucking world. Traffic seems to be a matter of some concern with some neighbors. Traffic is about 4500 vehicles per day currently. Engineers study indicates that a good two-lane highway like Farmers Turnpike should be able to handle about 11,000 vehicles per day. The traffic will increase, but it will be minimal. It will accommodate approx. 200 people over 3 shifts, about 30 per shift.
• Electric – The electrical company has been consulted and has sufficient electrical lines along Farmers Turnpike.
• Storm Water – There is a pond on the site, and there may be possibly two others. to handle storm water and help with fire suppression.
Chairman Robertson opened the floor for comments or questions from PC members.
Elsie Middleton asked about taxes which would be generated and tax abatements. Mr. Freese stated Berry has submitted a request for a 90 percent-10 year abatement with the County. Economic models received to-date are preliminary. Early calculations received indicate a benefit to township during abatement period would be about $10,000 annually and about $100,000 annually after abatement period ends. These are preliminary figures which were completed with assistance from out-reach service with the county. The benefit ratio communicated to Berry was bout 2.7 dollars to every 1 dollar spent. A 15 year analysis period was used to calculate this benefit amount. Figures are not available for benefits to the Fire District or USD 343 at this time.
Betty Corel stated her questions were about the fire and water and those items had been covered.
Chairman Robertson asked what the process would be for removing the ink from the printing presses since a lagoon system is proposed. Mr. Freese stated Berry Plastics actually creates very little by-product today. An outside service like a towel and uniform service is used when “wash-up” are done. A solid balled “BarSol” is used. The rags are dipped in the solution and the rags are placed in a barrel and the barrels are removed by the towel/uniform service. The printing process does not use water; it is primarily a “wipe off” process.
In response to a question from Elsie Middleton regarding signage, Mr. Freese stated that signage has not been discussed. He anticipates there will be a sign on the building and another near the burm at the curb-cut as one travels west at entrance to the plant. Both signs will be in accordance with Douglas County regulations.
Mary Jane Hoffer asked if a sign on the building would be required since the building will not be very visible from the road. Mr. Freese stated signage will be along the road near the entrance but there would still be something on the building.
Chairman Robertson asked for public comments and questions, asking each to state their name and limit speaking time to 3 minutes.
Paul Bahnmaier, Lecompton, spoke in favor of the proposed plan, stating that the township, fire department, school district and cemetery would benefit, reminding that Lecompton had lost its high school forty years ago because there was not sufficient valuation to support a unified school district in the township.
Scott McCullough, City of Lawrence Dg Co Planning Department Director, advised that a planner is working on the project and the Lecompton Planning Commission will all receive a staff report in preparation for the joint planning commissions meeting on October 25, 2010. when joint or separate recommendations will be shared. He offered his services as a resource.
Beth Johnson with Lawrence Chamber of Commerce gave some information about the abatement process. The application made by Berry Plastics is actually for an Industrial Revenue Bond asking Douglas County to assist them up to 100 percent tax abatement over ten years which is actually under the IRB called a tax exemption which has to go through a different process than tax abatement. The cost benefit tax model will be completed in about a week. Once completed, a meeting will be held with the taxing districts to appraise them. The Chamber of Commerce is funded by Douglas County therefore represents Lecompton in this issue. It is a good win for the Lecompton area and Douglas County as well.
Chairman Robertson directed a question to Scott McCullough referring to the last time an similar issue was presented on 155 acre industrial park just north if US 10 & Farmers Turnpike. He asked “What’s to keep the city/county from doing another island annexation and taking all of the Lecompton local benefits away?” Mr. McCullough replied, “It has to do with intra-structure of the city, sewer and water and there is not a conceivable mechanism now to get Lawrence city sewer and water to this site. Ultimately, perhaps, but many years from now but we’re not there yet. Doubt the city would be pursuing that very fast. The 155 acre issue was a request for annexation and rezoning. This proposal is for rezoning county zoning district only.”
No one spoke in opposition.
As there were no other questions or comments, Chairman Robertson asked for a motion either to adjourn until the joint meeting with Lawrence/Douglas County Commission and the Lecompton Planning Commission on October 25th, 2010, or to make our recommendation now. Mary Jane Hoffer made a motion to adjourn and attend the October 25th joint, seconded by Betty Corel and approved unanimously.
Meeting adjourned until October 25, 2010, beginning at 6:30 p.m., in the Commission Meeting Room, 1st Floor of City Hall, 6 E. 6th Street, Lawrence, Ks.
Elsie I. Middleton, Secretary
Lecompton Planning & Zoning Commission