by Jerleen Justus
(Plain Press, August 2011) LJ Minor/Nestle Plant Manager Shawn Faber and Architect Jim Larsen attended the July 7, 2011, Tremont West Development Corp. (TWDC) Economic Development Committee meeting to discuss the company’s plans for expansion of the 2621 West 25 Street facility.
Public records show that on April 5, the Switzerland owned North American headquarters, based in Solon, released a statement confirming their commitment for the multi-million dollar investment of the Cleveland facility– adding advanced technologies, processes and continuing to provide jobs in the Cleveland area. The sixty-year old Cleveland based company, founded in 1951 by food scientist Dr. L.J. Minor, employs between 250 and 499 employees.
On June 22, Nestle Professional/LJ Minor Company representatives appeared before the Near West Design Review District Committee for a schematic review of the proposed 35,850 square foot expansion of the existing facility. The Cleveland based Minor’s/Nestle Professional manufacturing plant is well-known for its stock products of sauces and soup bases for the professional chefs industry.
According to Faber, the expansion would be completed in two phases with Phase I being the actual building enlargement under roof by November 2011. The second phase would deal with additional parking, beautification and extra safety precautions for employees.
Although the Plant Manager did indicate that the company was in possession of property holdings to support the expansion and parking facilities, the question did arise as to plans for buying out surrounding resident homeowners living in close proximity of the facility.
With fall fast approaching and a number of scheduling conflicts it was suggested by TWDC/ED Chair Henry Senyak that a public meeting be arranged in the near future as a means of minimizing the time factor in getting the proposals to residents and the Lincoln Heights Block Club for review. Currently a meeting is tentatively scheduled for some time in August 2011. Senyak stated that this would be a necessary step since the plans did indicate the need for certain permits/variances by the Board of Zoning Appeals. Ward 14 Councilman Brian Cummins stated that they would be working closely with city officials.
TWDC SII Development Project Manager Sammy Catania, who sits on the Near West Design Review Board, stated that although the company’s plans for Phase I of the project did not require approval/support of the organization, it was his (Catania’s) suggestion that they present their proposed plans to the committee membership.
Residents living in the Ward 14 Lincoln Heights Block Club neighborhood are concerned that the company’s plans for expansion will require West 25 Street zoning changes that may have an adverse effect their community. Although Councilman Cummins did not open a discussion on any new plans for zoning changes, meetings have been recently scheduled with the West 25 Street Scranton Road zoning change proposals slated on the agenda.
Prior to any discussions taking place on July 7, 2011, the now Switzerland owned North American based company’s representatives insisted that those participating in the meeting discussions sign a non-disclosure agreement. According to Faber the signing of the classified document is standard practice. It was stated at the onset of the conversations that TWDC Staff, Ward 14 Councilman Brian Cummins and others had previously signed the confidentiality pact.
A few days earlier, TWDC Ex-Officio Board member Deane Malaker, ESQ, expressed his concern that signing such an agreement could put committee members and others at the risk of being liable and made answerable for any leaks from other sources. Attorney Malaker left the conference room and waited outside for the next agenda item to be up for discussion.