The zoning approval for Menards’ pending manufacturing and distribution plant in Jefferson Township will receive the final say on Monday, Feb. 25 with the Fayette County Commissioners.
Menards Inc., a family-owned company that’s been growing since 1958, now has over 300 home improvement stores in various states: Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The company is branching out with the proposal to add a concrete plant, truss plant and wood treatment plant along State Route 41 North. Once it’s completed, county officials believe it could create 100-150 jobs.
Harold Skaggs is the Fayette County Rezoning official who has been with the project from the beginning. According to Skaggs, “It’s 11 different parcels of land that comes out to 150 acres. There is no physical address [yet].” The description they are using to show the proposed lot is the area between Parrott Station Road, to Creamer Road, back to the railroad.
Phil Grover, owner/operator of Buckeye-Illini Genetics on Parrott Station Road, believes the new plant will “be very helpful in terms of jobs and taxes.” He said, “I’m always in favor of progress, especially when it is in accordance with the Fayette County Zoning Board and commissioners. We are very proud of it.”
Both Grover and his wife, Mary, said they believe the facility is a positive step forward for Jefferson Township.
Other homeowners in the area aren’t as positive. Two in particular, Mark and Leann Lewis, were adamant that they “are all about economic growth, jobs [and] tax deductions for the county,” however, the Lewis’s are stressed over the possibility of losing both their home and business.
Many members of the community are aware of “The Party Barn.” This barn is on the Lewis property and was the site for approximately 12 weddings last year. According to Mark, they had approximately 16 weddings planned this year. The couple had to inform clients of the impending construction. The Lewis’s agreed to sell the property to Menards as they did not wish to live and try to run a business surrounded by plants. Now they have until November to figure everything out.
The house itself is historical and the Lewis’s spent a year renovating before moving in during May of last year. Mark estimated they have invested $75 thousand into their property. The couple hopes to find nearby land they can move both the house and barn to, but so far have not found anyone willing to sell land to them.
While everyone understands this is a beneficial financial opportunity for Fayette County, they questioned why the new Menards’ facility couldn’t be built on the mega-site, which is very close to the proposed location. Fayette County Commissioner Tony Anderson reiterated that “the situation provides benefits for all.”
When asked about the mega-site location, he explained, “The county proposed a plan that would have given Menards access to 41, but the time-frame was not what Menards needed.” Upon further discussion, Anderson said, “It was our impression from the buyer’s comments that they would leave Fayette County and go further north [if they could not find an area with quicker access].”
If Menards had not stayed within county lines, the benefits they could provide would have been dulled if not lost completely.
As the 90-day process draws to a close this month, it appears the only obstacles left is for the commissioners to approve it and for some landowners to ponder big decisions. The only way it will be vetoed is if all three commissioners turn down the proposal, according to Skaggs.
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @kenanipel