WestRock reps request slack on sign ordinance

Published 4:20 pm Tuesday, January 29, 2019

VALLEY — With WestRock’s 375,000-square-foot distribution center nearing completion off Valley Industrial Drive, three representatives of the company were present at the Monday meeting of the Valley City Council seeking a variance on the city’s sign ordinance. The existing ordinance limits signs to 32 square feet. Neil Taylor, general manager of the Lanett plant, engineer Steven Wahnschaff, and warehouse manager Brian Taylor asked for a variance allowing for a sign for the warehouse that’s 58.5 square feet in size.

“This would be consistent with what we have with our other facilities,” Wahnschaff said. “It’s not on a through street, and the sign won’t flash or anything. We don’t see why anyone would object.”

The council approved the request in a unanimous vote.

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Mayor Leonard Riley told them the city was most pleased for WestRock to be the first industry in the new industrial park.

“You are going to have your hands full filling up that big building,” he said to Brian Taylor, the new warehouse manager.

“Yes sir,” he replied, laughing. “We’ve already started on it. I’ve been in the Atlanta area for 20 years and am really looking forward to working in Valley. It’s a good place to be.”

On another matter relating to the industrial park, the council revoked a previously-approved easement on the new road to the Four Star Freightliner site. Mayor Riley told the council that the title company prefers that it be done without the easement. This means it will be a public road, something that will speed up the closing of the land sale.

“This road has been a pain,” Riley said. “I am glad this is behind us.”

The city’s Public Works Department has done some preliminary work on the new road. Satisfying the title company should expedite finishing it. It’s possible the new business could be open by the end of the year.

Despite a recent slowdown, John Soules Foods expects to start up its Valley plant by the fourth quarter of 2020. The company has been focusing on some needed work at its main plant in Tyler, Texas. That’s delayed the preliminary work that had been going on at the former WestPoint Home distribution center off Towel Avenue. That should pick up again this September, the mayor said.

In late 2017, John Soules Foods announced that it would be opening a 266,000-square-foot facility in Valley.

The initial phase of production would involve an investment of $70 million and the hiring of 210 employees. A second phase would involve an investment of another $40 million and the hiring of an additional 300 employees.

John Soules Foods is the nation’s leading formulator, manufacturer and marketer of ready-to-cook and fully-cooked beef and chicken products.

Chris Busby of the Chambers County Development Authority staff was present at the meeting to give the mayor and members of the council copies of the CCFA’s annual report. He said that 2018 had been a fantastic year for the City of Valley and the surrounding area and that he expected even better things in the future.

“The recent ranking (by 24/7 Wall Street) of Valley being a No. 1 city in the country was the cherry on top,” he said. “Marketing will be a big part of what we will be doing this year. We are working on projects in Valley and hope to have some announcements in the near future. We appreciate you as a council, and we are always here for you. We are really looking forward to 2019.”

A consent agenda approved unanimously by the council covered the purchase of a PoolPak for the Community Center indoor pool, the purchase of equipment for the CV Railway Trail, and paying the salary of a resource officer for Chambers County schools in Valley.

The new PoolPak will cost just under $241,000, which is significantly less than the $325,000 that was budgeted for it. This is an essential piece of equipment for the indoor pool. The current one hasn’t been replaced since the community center opened in the early 2000’s.

The equipment being purchased for the CV Trail is being covered by a grant. Items to be purchased include fencing, 32-gallon trash receptacles, eight sign boards, 18 six-foot benches. The council approved a total expenditure of just under $25,000, which accounts for the city’s matching portion for the grant.

Corp. Stephen Doyal will be the third resource officer to work the Valley area.

The council approved an offer from Complete Forestry Services from Columbus, Georgia, to cut timber on a portion of the recently purchased Burney property. The area to be cut is between 55th Street and I-85. Mayor Riley said that he didn’t anticipate doing this right away, but decided to go ahead with timber prices.

“It’s a good time to do it,” he said.