The Barrow County Planning Commission last week recommended approval of a rezoning request that would allow a housing materials manufacturer to convert a former rail car facility near the Barrow County Airport into a new plant for the company.
During its monthly meeting March 18, the panel endorsed the request by DIV005, LLC, to rezone and change the future land-use map for 76.3 acres at 880 and 976 Airport Rd., Winder. If approved by the county board of commissioners at its meeting scheduled for April 13, the rezoning would allow for the company to repurpose the train car facility on the property that was operated by Texas-based Trinity Industries, which shuttered its Winder operations last March in order to consolidate operations at its other Georgia facility in Cartersville.
According to a letter of intent for the project, DIV005 is a manufacturer of structural metal framing materials for the construction industry, “including (the manufacturing of) cold-formed steel-framing with in-house panelization and structural steel fabrication — including columns, beams, stairs and railing, as well as decking and sheathing material and modular units.”
The company anticipates initially employing 55 people at the facility with an average wage of $20 an hour and plans to eventually increase its workforce to over 250 people as it expands operations over the next several years, said Bill Berryman, an attorney representing DIV005. The company’s investment in the facility will be north of $22 million, according to the letter of intent.
No additional buildings have been proposed on-site.
“(The former rail car facility) has long been an asset to this community and area, and we believe this proposal fits within that mold,” Berryman told the planning commission. “This carries on that tradition, and (the new plant will be) a good contributor to Barrow County.”
The planning commission recommended approval of the rezoning from M-1 (Light Industrial) to M-2 (Heavy Industrial) with a few attached conditions, including that the project be reviewed and approved by the airport authority. John Stell, an attorney for the authority’s board, said the authority supports the proposed business.
“If you look at the (county’s) land-use plan, we don’t have a character area where M-2 is primary zoning,” Stell said, adding it was an “oversight” in retrospect to classify the property M-1. “We’d like to see that facility back in business and think it’d be a great economic boon for the county.”
One of the recommended conditions that the planning commission attached — that the property be limited to manufacturing/fabrication of structural metal framing materials — drew pushback from Berryman, who said the company would like to lease out space on the property to businesses with “complementary” and “low-impact” uses while it ramps up to full production in the coming years. He said the company had offered conditions that would exclude several uses permitted in the M-2 zoning that would be “incompatible” with DIV005’s operations.
In other business at its March 18 meeting, the planning commission:
•recommended approval of a request to rezone 9.5 acres at the southwest intersection of Jackson Trail Road and Highway 53 for a convenience store and office warehouse.
•recommended approval of a request by New Leaf Georgia, LLC, to rezone 13.4 acres at 1521 Doster Rd., Winder, for an 11-lot single-family subdivision.
•recommended approval of a request by Cedar Valley Properties to rezone 4.55 acres on State Route 82 near Pleasant Hill Church Road NE for six single-family homes.
•accepted the withdrawal of a request by Bright View Homes to rezone 34 acres at 1632 Austin Rd., Winder, for a 17-lot subdivision.
All of those requests will also go before the board of commissioners at its April 13 meeting.