Council members would welcome chemical company, with reservationsBy: Carol Percy, Reporter
The News Messenger asked City Council members for their comments last week about Helena Chemical Company possibly moving to Lincoln.
The company’s branch manager Paul Smith and Lincoln treasurer Terry Dorsey told council on April 22 that Helena Chemical Company wanted to open a distribution warehouse in a 9,500-square-foot Lincoln building.
Mayor Gabriel Hydrick
I’d welcome any new business with the stipulation that we don’t want them threatening the health and welfare of the community. They’d need to be a good fit for our community.”
Councilman Spencer Short
The benefit would be the company would be sales tax-producing. And they would be leasing a space that’s been vacant for a long time.
The challenges are we don’t know what the issues are yet. The tenant would bring the city added revenue but part of the issue is we know that we have to provide a water supply to the site. Beyond that, we’re waiting for an application from HCC to fully review and move the project forward.
Councilman Stan Nader
“Obviously, we’re excited about the potential of the chemical company generating $90,000 in sales tax revenue; that’s great. But the only concern is that it’s a chemical company and I know staff is asking the company to provide more information about the chemicals they would be storing. If they are liquid, we would want to make sure they have containment. Markham Ravine is close by (the proposed Highway 65 building near the rifle range) and we’d want to make sure the company is making contingency plans for that.
We also want to make sure that Lincoln’s residents know we’re going to protect the environment as part of this process. This is a step in the right direction for economic development for the city but we want to make sure it’s the right fit.”
Councilman Paul Joiner:
“I think every potential new business has the right to apply and go through our review process. The process and professional staff exist for just that reason, to review applications for appropriateness of location, compliance with the city's existing zoning and ordinances and, if need be, to require mitigation methods for any areas of concern.”
Councilman Peter Gilbert
“Many of your questions will be addressed by staff after research has been done. My thoughts regarding those questions can be better addressed once we have full knowledge of what the applicant intends to do in the space under consideration.
Will they store chemicals on site? What are they and do they pose any safety issues? We were unable to ask these questions at our council meeting because the item was off agenda and we are limited by procedure and lack of a staff report to focus in on any concerns.
Obvious benefits are jobs (number is unknown), purchasing power of the company and employees, sales tax generation, etc.
In terms of any safety concerns, they will need to be addressed once we have knowledge of what those are. If there are any, then staff will address them through their recommendations and the conditional-use permit process.”