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Nestle rezoning issue passes
Nestle rezoning issue passes
By SUE REID
Nestle USA officials expressed cautious optimism following Tuesday's election, when voters both citywide in Solon and within the affected 5th Ward favored Issue 95, according to unofficial results from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.
The initiative petition to rezone residential land to industrial received overwhelming citywide support, with 6,882 voting in favor and 1,227 opposing the issue. The zoning issue also needed to pass within the ward, according to the Solon charter.
According to unofficial results, of the 1,381 votes cast in the 5th Ward, 969 were in favor and 412 were in opposition.
Roz O'Hearn, spokesperson for Nestle, said following the election, "I would like to have this officially recorded, but we're very, very pleased.
"Solon residents understood that a new global research and development center is as important to the community as it is to us," she said. "What they have done by voting to support it is secure new investments and new jobs for Solon."
The 18 acres to be rezoned is at the southeast corner of Hawthorn Parkway and Cannon Road and is owned by Nestle. Plans are for the company to construct a product technology center in the range of 120,000 to 150,000 square feet. The building, planned for 2012, would cost between $50 million and $60 million to construct. The center would allow Nestle's research and development segment to grow, as well as advance the frozen foods business the company is developing worldwide, Ms. O'Hearn said.
"We're going to celebrate it today," she said of the plans. "We have a big meeting with our senior teams, and there will be lots of work we will need to commence.
"Obviously, you don't start a project of this size without doing good planning at the front end," she said. "We're ready to get started."
Cannon Road resident Gary Boron, who opposes the project, said following the election that he cannot believe it passed. "The city should work for us, not for Stouffer's," he said of the frozen foods division.
"We haven't decided what we're doing," Mr. Boron said. "I think the city is gong to lose, because a lot of people will want to get their taxes reduced. This is just the beginning."
Fifth Ward Councilwoman Nancy E. Meany said she has encouraged her constituents all along to get out and vote on the issue.
"I think it's a good thing for Solon, if it ends up that it has officially passed," Mrs. Meany said of the issue. "I know myself and the administration will continue to work with the residents to try and make this a situation that will be as painless as possible for the people who live on Cannon."
Ms. O'Hearn said it has been a pleasure to be able to work with the city in a collaborative fashion.
"We are grateful for the leadership of Mayor Drucker, Nancy Meany and the whole of City Council," Ms. O'Hearn said. "They have been a great sounding board as we held those community meetings and understood what sort of questions residents may have had on the project."
If Nestle is able to get all the necessary clearances moving forward, Ms. O'Hearn said, "it is our intention to start construction in 2012. But in reality, we have lots of clearance to obtain before we start construction."
She thanked the voters who took the time to vote Tuesday.
"There were some opponents to this, but I'm very grateful the voters in Solon were sensible and took time to learn about the issue and understood that this is an investment in the community and in jobs," Mrs. O'Hearn said.
"It is a great project, and it's going to be a beautiful building," she said.
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