Obetz Council skeptical about proposed warehouse

By Katelyn Sattler
Staff Writer

Another warehouse has been proposed for Obetz.

Tyler Ford, with Oakridge Development Company, presented a preliminary site plan for a warehouse to Obetz City Council on May 9 to determine council’s interest before purchasing the property at 1441 Williams Road.

The 35 acre piece of property is owned by the Obetz Cemetery Association and located behind Mulberry Grove. The land is zoned for cemetery use. Obetz City Administrator Rod Davisson suggested Ford present to council and get some feedback before creating engineering drawings to present to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

“I don’t know that people would be thrilled with the concept of replacing the cemetery with industrial,” said Davisson. “I think they originally wanted to do two buildings and we talked about reducing that down to a building and trying to keep the industrial development to the north of Mulberry Grove, which has access on Williams and then turning the back half of that into a park/parking.”

Ford replied, “So the thought was to donate approximately 15 acres to the city for park land and we would install the pond. As you can see on the plans, there is some additional tree line there. We can put an additional screen there to screen the development in front of the residential development. We would need to rezone and break ground sometime in 2023, probably the second quarter of that year.”

Ford said the warehouse usage would be as flexible as possible.

Councilman Robert Kramer asked if the proposed warehouse would operate 24 hours a day.

“Potentially, yes,” said Ford. “And we would put the office portion facing east, so we would limit truck traffic coming through that portion of the building, so the residential wouldn’t see too much truck traffic.”

Mayor Angela Kirk said, “My concern is the noise and constant traffic in and out of there upsetting the neighborhood.”

Davisson requested council give Ford clear direction.

“If, for instance, your clear direction was that project’s never going to interest me, then that’s clear direction,” said Davisson. “I don’t want them to leave here confused about what your intentions are or your initial reaction to it. So I encourage you to speak up.”

Kramer said it looks like it’s 200 feet from the corner there. Ford affirmed it is.

Kirk said “I’m not interested because of the noise and the pollution and the trucks we have already across those track on the other side, which is the Industrial Park. We have nothing but constant noise from those warehouses and they are way far off than this one would be, which is next to the neighborhood.”

Councilman Derek Varney said he’d have a hard time justifying to a resident why they were trying to squeeze a warehouse next to them.

Added Kramer, “It’s the uncertainty of having some kind of warehouse with some kind of industry with some kind of hours being right next to a neighborhood like that. If it was down south on Alum Creek, great. There are a million down there. But that’s what’s kinda nice about the city. We have stuff and not everything is warehouse, house, warehouse, warehouse. It’s kind of set up nicely that way.”

Councilman Michael Flaherty said, “We’re trying to be better stewards for our neighbors.”

Councilman Guiles Richardson said, “So on this back street, you had empty houses. Now all those lots are full. It’s a finished neighborhood. The warehouses set way back here. I mean, it’s constant noise. I don’t think this would be a good idea.”

Added Kirk, “Like Councilman Flaherty said, we didn’t really plan that for that corridor, so now we have a neighborhood there that we have to be mindful of. So, if you want to come up with something different and new and exciting quickly before you have to make a decision, I’m willing to listen to that. But this is not it for me.”

Davisson said, “We get a lot of requests for flex office, which seem to be something that would probably fit better – sounds like anything that’s more quiet would be best.
Kramer said the city is not “development averse.”

“It’s just to get the right thing in the right place, more office space, making it a little more low key might fit better,” said Kramer.

“I’m available if you fellas come up with some different ideas,” Davisson said.

“I don’t know how many times you’ve seen things over there where they’re putting an additional (business) in, so it’s needed here. People do see the need for that. And honestly, it excites me to see, because those are usually your incubator, new businesses,” said Varney.

Kramer thanked them for coming out and said he hopes something will work for them here.

Kirk said, “Let us know what your next idea is.”

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