McCORDSVILLE — Town officials and a metal manufacturing company have reached common ground on a facility and a tax break for it.

The company has backed off its request for an unusually large tax abatement and also is no longer asking the town for $500,000 to help it rectify a utility issue. It has also agreed to put a berm and trees between the proposed structure and a neighborhood in an attempt to appease residents there.

Philadelphia-based Southwark Metal Manufacturing Co. wants to move its operation in Lawrence to a 350,000-square foot facility on the east side of Mt. Comfort Road south of County Road 600N. The light manufacturer specializes in sheet metal pipe, duct work and fittings for residential heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems.

McCordsville Town Council voted 4-1 in favor of a resolution earlier this month, paving the way for Southwark Metal Manufacturing’s plans. Council members Larry Longman, Tom Strayer, Branden Williams and Barry Wood voted in favor; Greg Brewer voted against.

Southwark is now seeking a 10-year tax abatement for the facility that would be 100% in its first year, 95% its second, 90% its third, 80% its fourth, 65% its fifth, 60% its sixth, 50% its seventh, 40% its eighth, 30% its ninth and 20% its 10th.

The company had previously been seeking a 100% tax abatement for all 10 years until town council members voiced their opposition to it last month.

Under the new abatement, Southwark would save about $2.5 million and pay just more than $3 million in taxes, said Emma Adlam of Baker Tilly, which provides financial consulting services to the town. She added that after the abatement is over, the company’s annual property tax liability would be about $550,000.

Along with the former abatement request, town officials also had issues with the company’s initially proposed two curb cuts for the facility on Mt. Comfort Road. Now Southwark is planning just one, on the north end of the property, and the access will also branch northward for potential future developments. Plans also call for a new public road to the south of Southwark’s proposed facility, which would route outbound truck traffic.

Additionally, Southwark is no longer asking the town for $500,000 to help it address a wastewater issue at the site, but it still would like the town to waive permitting, tap and other local fees.

A 20-foot wide buffer yard with mounding and evergreen trees would go to the north of the facility as well. Last month, many residents of the Woodhaven neighborhood to the north of the proposed site across County Road 600N expressed opposition toward having to live near the facility.

“To me, this has changed quite a bit from when we first saw it, and I think it’s a benefit all the way around to protect both the residents and make future development work more effectively,” Strayer said at the council meeting.

Brewer, a resident of Woodhaven, reiterated his opposition but commended Southwark for making the concessions. He also agreed it would be better to have the development in town limits instead of out so that town officials can have influence over it.

“But I still have to listen to my constituents, and even though it looks better, it still could have a negative impact financially, could possibly, potentially have a negative impact on the quality of life that they have moved out there to have,” Brewer said.

The council will follow its approval of the resolution earlier this month with a public hearing and final vote during a special meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 29. The public hearing will start at 6:30 p.m., and the meeting is scheduled for 7. It will be on the web conferencing platform Zoom. A link to the meeting is on McCordsville’s website, mccordsville.org, under the “Agendas & Minutes” link.

Town officials also discussed photos sent to them of Southwark’s Lawrence facility reportedly with debris on its premises. They said the McCordsville facility would be held to local expectations for property maintenance.

Kurt Swadener, a Woodhaven resident, expressed concern over the entrance for the proposed facility being on a curve on Mt. Comfort Road and the effect it could have on sight lines.

Mark Witsman, McCordsville town engineer, agreed he normally doesn’t like to see entrances on curves, but called this one “gentle.”

“The radius on that (curve) is extremely large,” Witsman said. “It also curves away to the north, so line of sight is going to be very good from that entrance.”
© 2020 Daily Reporter