LECO wants new land rezoned to industrial

The LECO Global Support Center along Hilltop Road is pictured Thursday. It is one of the buildings LECO already has in its industrial development district. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

The LECO Global Support Center along Hilltop Road is pictured Thursday. It is one of the buildings LECO already has in its industrial development district. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — LECO Corp. wants to rezone newly acquired land, and the St. Joseph Township Board is hearing them out.

At the township’s March 7 board meeting, LECO representatives requested to have a parcel along the south side of Hilltop Road rezoned to its existing industrial development district. Trustees set a public hearing for 6 p.m. April 4 at St. Joseph Township Hall, where neighboring residents can comment.

St. Joseph Township Manager Tim Fenderbosch said LECO has not expressed any plans for development.

However, Fenderbosch said when companies ask to rezone land to an industrial district, they normally plan to apply for a tax abatement for the construction of an new building.

“They what to be part of the industrial district we set up,” he said. “They are in a district, but there are new parcels attached to it. If LECO ever wants to do anything with that land, it would make sense to have it all in that district.”

The township assessor said LECO bought the parcel near Auto Zone on Feb. 1. LECO already owned vacant land to the west of its large green warehouse-style building.

LECO, a global maker of industrial instrumentation, did not return calls from The Herald-Palladium concerning the land it wants to rezone.

Fenderbosch said the township will not be sure what LECO will do with the land until it takes out permits or submits plans for review.

“It would not surprise me that they are starting this process, so that at some point in the future they may be able to do something. New construction takes several years of planning. You’ve got to start and lay the foundation,” Fenderbosch said. “I have not talked to LECO about it, but we consider ourselves very business friendly. We do whatever we can to assist businesses.”

Cornerstone Alliance, who had a spokesman at the March 7 meeting, said they could not comment on what LECO’s intent is for the land.

Clerk Denise Cook also suspects the land could be developed, but said no information was released on its purpose at the board meeting.

“They want to prepare it,” she said. “Typically there is something coming down the pipe when a company does this.”

LECO’s campus in St. Joseph and St. Joseph Township has multiple manufacturing, testing and office spaces along either side of Hilltop Road. The company’s corporate headquarters is at 3000 Lakeview Ave., in St. Joseph.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 18, 2016)

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