City approves expansion, development plans

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     During the March 21 Monticello City Council, the council approved several items related to expansion projects within the city.

     The council set two public hearings related to the proposed expansion of Orbis Corporation. On Monday, April 3, at 6 p.m. the council will have a hearing on a development agreement between the city and Orbis, as well as a hearing as to whether Orbis should be added into the city’s Urban Renewal Area/TIF District.

     Doug Wortman with Orbis was present at the council meeting to give an overview of the company’s decision to expand its Monticello plant.

     It was actually a little over a year ago when Orbis started looking at ways to expand, considering the finances associated with the project as well versus leasing property.

     Orbis currently leases space from several different facilities in Monticello and Jones County: the former Georgia Pacific building, MinnTex, and the J&P Cycles facility along Highway 151, just to name a few.

     With the two plants in Iowa (Monticello and Manchester) Wortman said they primarily support catalogue sales from companies such as Amazon. As the largest manufacturer of plastic palettes, Wortman said Orbis’ products take up a lot of room.

     To save on the cost of renting and leasing space away from their facility in town, Wortman said they’d like to build a 90,000 square-foot addition onto their plant.

     “We want to strike while the iron is hot,” said Wortman of the timing and incentives available through the state. “We’re trying to grow, and we have growing warehouse needs.”

     With product stored off-site, Wortman said turnaround time decreases. “That’s hard to do with multiple sites,” he said. “Lead time is huge.” He said some of the warehouse space is also inefficient when it comes to the layout of the facilities.

     “We need to get three to four locations down to one,” he said of the addition. “That would lower our costs and improve lead time.”

     Wortman estimates having the addition designed by May 2017, with construction from July 2017 through April 2018. By May 2018, all of their product would be moved into the addition, and out of the leased facilities.

     Through the council’s additional preliminary approval of an agreement with Orbis, the city will offer tax rebates, which would begin the first year following completion of the project, to run from FY 2020 through FY 2029.

     “It’s consistent with what we’ve done in the past,” explained City Administrator Doug Herman.

     The 90,000 square-foot addition would give Orbis 25 percent more storage capacity as well.

     Wortman said Orbis could also receive state incentives such as refunds for the sales associated with the building materials, and for the number of high-quality/paying jobs offered at their plant.

     With the addition, Orbis could bring in two to three more employees. With the plan to expand the number of presses in operation by 2020, Wortman said that could be almost 20 more employees.

     Wortman thanked the council for its support, and said he would see to it that local contractors were used in the construction of the addition. He said this would be a $4.4 million project.

     The council also approved the site plan for the Oak Street (senior) Condos. The development was put together by Mike Kraus. Planning and Zoning also approved the plans.

     They call for seven units with a private driveway for access. All service utilities would also be private. Storm water would be collected within a rain garden-type structure. Period lighting would also be used.

     A public hearing on the re-zoning for this property will take place on April 3 at 6 p.m. With three readings required for final zoning, Herman suggested the council could waive three readings and do it at one time, if there were no objections.

In other city business:

     • The council failed to approved the payment of three invoices totally $415.81 for items that were purchased for the open house event honoring former Parks and Rec Director Tami Bartram on Feb. 28. While the council did not object to the basis of the event, they objected to the use of taxpayer money to pay for the invoices from three different local businesses.

     • The council set a public hearing for April 3 at 6 p.m. for the re-zoning of several properties owned by Steve Intlekofer: a lot at the intersection of E. Washington and S. Cedar from C-1 to R-1, 322 W. Fourth St. from R-1 to R-2, and 525 S. Maple St. from R-1 to R-2.

     Planning and Zoning was not unanimous in its approval of the re-zoning.

     • The council approved the voluntary annexation and related agreement between the city and Tracy Yousse, owner of The Sign Shop. This would bring that property into city limits. Yousee would, however, still maintain use of a private well and septic system.

     • The council approved a storm water cost share agreement between the city and Jerry and Sherry Behrends. The city would pay half the cost of the project at $3,800. The city’s share would also include hauling rock with city equipment.

     • The city is seeking someone to fill a vacancy on the Tree Board. You must live within city limits. Those interested should contact City hall at 319-465-3577.


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