UNION TWP. – The Union Township Zoning Commission unanimously recommended that an application to re-zone the former site of the DuPont Pioneer Research Facility be denied Tuesday.
During a public hearing to address the zoning parcel amendment for property at 49 N. Ludlow Road, local residents were able to voice their opinion on the proposed amendment that was filed by Howell Brothers Development, LLC.
An application to rezone the North Ludlow Road property came before the zoning commission on Feb. 29. The application requested the property be rezoned from a U-1 rural underdeveloped district to M-2 heavy manufacturing district.
A conditional use permit was granted in October 2015 for the future use of property by the Sutphen Company, a fire equipment refurbishing company. Howell Brothers Development, the property owners, were seeking rezoning which would eliminate the need for future conditional use permits.
Before residents voiced their opinion, zoning commission Vice Chair Julie Johnson recited a staff report from the Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission (LUC) on the proposed zoning amendment. In the LUC staff report, which is available on the LUC’s website, the staff recommends denial of the proposed zoning amendment based on the Champaign County Comprehensive Plan and the purpose and intent of the U-1 rural district and the M-2 heavy manufacturing district.
Multiple residents against the amendment expressed concern about heavy manufacturing.
Howell Brothers Development managing partner Terry Howell said the original application sought an M-1 designation to include light manufacturing and warehousing for the property.
“We want it to be M-1, we don’t want heavy manufacturing, we’ve never wanted heavy manufacturing and I think we voiced that on Feb. 29,” Howell said. “But we were advised (on Feb. 29) that we couldn’t take it to the LUC by this committee because there wasn’t an M-1 adopted by the township.”
Howell added he does not think the property and environment are suitable for heavy manufacturing while light manufacturing within the confines of the building would be more suitable.
He also noted that the LUC’s zoning and subdivision committee recommended the township’s zoning commission and trustees should meet to consider adding M-1 light manufacturing district regulations to the Official Schedule of District Regulations and explore whether a larger, more comprehensive rezoning is warranted in the area.
Howell said he felt like he and the zoning commission did not have a choice but to submit the application as heavy manufacturing.
The North Ludlow Road property was built by Howell Brothers Development LLC in 2012 and leased to Pioneer. The research facility opened in December 2012 and closed in the summer of 2014.
Howell said the Sutphen Company and Pioneer are close to an agreement but Sutphen had not signed the lease as of Tuesday.
“My hope is they sign the lease and they stay there for 100 years,” Howell said. “However, if something were to happen that they didn’t sign the lease then we’re out doing the same thing looking for another tenant.”
With the zoning commission’s recommendation, the application will now move to Union Township Trustees who have to schedule a public hearing to take action on the application.
Reach Nick Walton at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.