Those opposing a proposed truck and rail hub just north of the General Motors plant in Lafayette Township now know how much truck traffic would likely be generated by the more than 750,000-square-foot facility.
At a sometimes-contentious meeting Thursday night between developers and residents, Matt Lock, general manager of Logistics Insights, the tenant of the proposed facility, said it would streamline operations now at four existing area locations.
The sites at present send 2,200 to 2,300 trucks a week to supply parts to GM assembly lines on a just-in-time basis, he told about 80 people gathered at Roanoke Baptist Church. In addition, about 1,000 more trucks would likely deliver parts to the new facility at 13202 Winters Road for ferrying to the plant, Lock said.
"Now, we’re leasing these buildings all over the place," he said. "I’ve got five fragmented businesses, and I’m putting them under one roof."
The news was not met quietly.
"So you’re assuring us that it’s going to be huge?" one audience member said. It was one of many exchanges in which attendees peppered Lock and other representatives of the developer with questions and comments even in the midst of their presentations.
At the meeting’s outset, Tom Niezer of Barrett McNagny, attorney for the developer, Crown Enterprises of Warren, Michigan, said the group wouldn’t discuss the main concern of residents – that the facility, proposed for an area zoned as agricultural, does not follow Allen County’s plan for development near GM.
Crown is seeking to have the site rezoned as business, technology and industrial.
"We’re going to agree to disagree on that for tonight," Niezer said, adding that those questions would best be directed to the plan commission.
He also tried to reassure residents about truck traffic, saying contact had already been made with GM and county officials about banning trucks on Lower Huntington Road. Lower Huntington leads to the proposed facility’s entrance on Winters Road and has residential developments, including the Azbury additions and Calera, along it.
Lock told residents that trucks would be directed to use Lafayette Center Road to access the facility but agreed that employees could use other roads to get there.
Residents questioned why the now-vacant Nestle plant could not be an alternative site, and Lock said he had looked at it. But it is under contract for three years to other companies and not available, he said.
The Nestle plant also would not provide the same proximity to GM, and the difference in distance "could add up to millions of dollars," he said.
While Nestle has rail service, this site has potential for a spur directly to GM, something considered "key," said Daniel Onifer, representing Crown.
However, in an answer to a question by the residents’ attorney, Scott Federoff of Carson Boxberger LLC in Fort Wayne, Onifer said no agreements had been reached with either Norfolk Southern railroad or GM on construction of such a link.
"They’ve reviewed the geometry, and there’s no expectation they’re couldn’t be a rail spur," Onifer said.
He told residents the developers are trying to mitigate impacts with downward lighting in parking areas and berms and trees to muffle noise and cut down sight lines.
Attendees also questioned why representatives of GM were not at the meeting, especially if they were supportive of Lock, who said he had worked for GM for 20 years and the company directly and indirectly comprises 100 percent of his business.
"They’re not going to give me (what could be perceived as) an unfair advantage over my competitors," Lock said.
"They made it clear that this is something I have to earn on my own."