Betty Lin-Fisher and Cheryl Powell
Newell Rubbermaid, via a real- estate partner, has withdrawn its application to rezone a controversial piece of land in Mogadore for expansion of its area operations.
As a result, the joint Mogadore Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council meeting scheduled for tonight has been canceled. It had been expected to attract a crowd.
Village officials hand-delivered letters to residents near the former West’s Mogadore Country Club on Wednesday to inform them that the application had been withdrawn and the meeting canceled.
It is unknown whether the withdrawal means the company will look instead to a parcel in the joint economic development district (JEDD) for Brimfield Township and Tallmadge. That site, north of Interstate 76, was approved for rezoning by the Tallmadge City Council in December with some council members dissenting, saying they were siding with residents who argued against the legislation.
Newell Rubbermaid spokesman David Doolittle on Wednesday declined comment about the withdrawal or whether the company would now look to the JEDD or other possible sites. Doolittle said there would be no comment about the site selection process until the Atlanta-based company was ready to make an announcement. Earlier this month, Doolittle said Mogadore and Brimfield/Tallmadge were among multiple sites being considered by the company, but he could not say whether there were others.
Both the Mogadore and Brimfield/Tallmadge sites are being represented by InSite Realty for Newell Rubbermaid.
Earlier this month, residents packed a Mogadore planning meeting where Newell Rubbermaid officials and representatives of InSite discussed plans for a distribution center on the site of the former golf course. Company officials have said they are running out of room at their 850,000-square-foot plant and distribution center on Gilchrist Road in Mogadore. The plant makes Rubbermaid food storage and home organization products.
In November, Newell Rubbermaid announced plans to close its 800,000-square-foot distribution center in Wooster by the end of the 2012 and move operations to Mogadore. The company said it no longer made economic sense to truck products in an 80-mile round trip to Wooster.
The closing will mark nearly the end of the company’s long-standing relationship with the town where Rubbermaid. Only a store employing 14 will remain.
In Mogadore, Newell Rubbermaid via InSite Realty had asked that the former golf course be rezoned from residential use to industrial use.
In an interview earlier this month, West’s Mogadore Country Club owner Eric West confirmed that he had a memorandum of understanding to sell his family’s property to Newell Rubbermaid if the rezoning were approved.
West said he closed the course, which his late father, Glen, opened in 1945, at the end of December. It had been for sale for about a year.
“I’m retiring. The decision was it’s time to leave,” said West, who said he and his wife want to move to Florida to be closer to grandchildren.
West said he had worked at the golf course for 33 years. At the time, West said he felt fortunate that he’d found a potential buyer in Rubbermaid, which could be a win-win for himself and the community to bring in investment money.
But neighbors of the golf course disagreed, saying the distribution center would result in trucking operations at all times of the day and night in a quiet residential area.
West could not be reached Wednesday for further comment.
Rick Lee, whose patio faces the country club, said it was great news that the rezoning request was withdrawn.
The new distribution center would have been at the expense of a great number of Mogadore citizens, he said.
“I, for one, wasn’t looking forward to all the noise and commotion that this would’ve meant, not to mention the drop in property values,” Lee said.
Lee said he wonders whether residents will face another, different zoning proposal. “Hopefully, Mr. West will see that this wasn’t a good fit for Mogadore, and try to find a more appropriate buyer,” Lee said.
InSite Realty notified the village on Tuesday that it was dropping its application to rezone the property for industrial use, said Lisa Grenus, Mogadore’s assistant clerk.
Tallmadge Mayor David Kline said he is expecting to hear “very soon” whether Newell Rubbermaid plans to proceed with the project on a 100-acre site within the joint economic development district with Brimfield Township.
“I know they’re trying to get this building built and get it in by the end of the year,” Kline said of the project that he has been told could bring about 100 jobs.
The Tallmadge City Council in December approved a zoning change to allow industrial development on the site, in Brimfield north of Interstate 76 next to the Tallmadge Industrial Park. Brimfield officials also approved the rezoning.
Dick Messner, Brimfield’s administrator of zoning and economic development, said InSite officials have indicated they expect to make a decision in the next couple of weeks.
He said he has heard the firm also is considering property on Gilchrist Road in Mogadore.
But Messner said he thinks the Brimfield location is InSite’s top choice. “I don’t think they would be asking for so much information if it wasn’t what they would consider their primary spot,” he said.
Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or email@example.com.