MP City Council paves the way for local industry’s expansionHearth & Home Technologies to expand size, number of employees
BY BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Good news abounded at Wednesday’s Mt. Pleasant City Council meeting.
The council passed several procedural steps to pave the way for the 90,000 square-foot expansion for Hearth & Home Technologies of Mt. Pleasant.
Hearth and Home’s expansion will increase its workforce from 276 to 303 employees. The project is expected to start yet this fall and be completed over a 12-month period.
Council members guaranteed Hearth & Home a five-year property tax abatement program on the increased value of the business through construction. The city will abate 75 percent of the property taxes the first year and the abatement will decrease by 15 percent through each of the next four years.
The city’s tax abatement will also provide the local match for Hearth & Home’s high quality jobs application. The state program provides financial assistance (loans/forgivable loans) for industrial expansion projects.
Carla McNamee, Hearth & Home Technologies general manager, said, “Mt. Pleasant offers significant advantages beyond economic development incentives. It is an ideal location connected to a business-friendly transportation network, favorable labor conditions, a low cost of living and a wonderful community where our employees can raise their families.”
Hearth & Home, headquartered in Muscatine, is the world’s largest manufacturer of fireplaces, stoves and hearth-related products.
“I see no negatives in this, I see all positives,” remarked Councilman Kent White.
More good news came later in the meeting when the council reviewed and approved a site plan for the construction of a commercial building at the intersection of East Baker Street and North Grand Avenue (south of Walmart). The 13,800 square-foot building will have two (business) spaces for lease. Earlier, the city’s planning and zoning commission recommended approval of the plan. The total developed area will be 2.02 acres. A parking lot to accommodate 69 regular parking spaces and three handicapped slots also is included in the plan.
No timetable was given for construction of the building.
“It is exciting to see a lot of new stuff happening,” noted City Administrator Brent Schleisman. “We just hope to keep the momentum.”
Mayor Steve Brimhall also hinted that there are some housing projects in the works. He said more housing is needed if the city hopes to attract skilled workers. “There are things happening. It is starting to happen a lot sooner than I expected.”
Council members also approved a grant application from the Mt. Pleasant Fire Department to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to purchase a new rescue vehicle. The grant is for $600,000; the city’s contribution would be five percent or $30,000.
“This doesn’t obligate us to do anything, which is very unlikely if we get the grant,” Brimhall explained.
“It is one of the most-used trucks in the fleet,” added Councilman Matt Crull.
The current rescue unit is showing “a lot of wear and tear,” according to the councilman. The vehicle also has a bad throttle.
Approval was given for a three-year contract extension to Stewart Mowing Service for mowing at Forest Home Cemetery next year. The firm received a one-year contract last year. Stewart agreed to hold the price at $65,050 per year.
A first reading of a proposed ordinance to rezone property at 104 S. Iris St., from B-4 (highway commercial district) to B-3 (general retail and commercial district) was passed. The rezoning would allow a residence to be placed inside the building at the location.
Agreement was also given to a 28E agreement between the city and the Department of Corrections. The agreement will provide workers from the Mt. Pleasant Correction Facility for various city departments.
Rick Mullin, city director of public works, said the city had a similar agreement eight or nine years ago “and it worked well.”
“We’ve never had any issues with these workers,” added Brimhall. “These guys like to get off the prison grounds.”
City Attorney Pat Brau will be spending the afternoons of the first and third Thursdays of the month at City Hall, the council announced. Brau will not only work on city matters during that time (1-4 p.m.) but also will be available for citizen concerns.
In other agenda items, the council:
• Passed the third reading deleting the 12-minute parking limit and expanding the parking limit to two hours at 220 W. Monroe St. (former city hall) and designated other 12-minute parking spaces by address rather than the name of the business.
• Ratified Brimhall’s appointment of David File to fill out the remaining term of Larry Brenizer on the planning and zoning commission. The term expires on Jan. 1, 2021.
• Accepted bids on the sale of two city-owned trucks and a road grader. Blair Barton submitted the high bid of $2,129 for the road grader; Quail Automotive purchased a dump truck for $2,115; and CW Tree Service had the high bid of $1,650 for the other truck.
Council members meet again in regular session Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 5:30 p.m., at City Hall. The council is meeting one day earlier due to the Thanksgiving holiday.