Milan gives approval for new business

Beth Rumsey, Staff Writer

Despite opposition from residents living on County Road 200 N, Milan, the Milan Town Council unanimously approved the motion to accept the agreement with Pike Lumber at a special meeting on Tuesday, September 1. “I don’t think you can find any better people to work with than this company,” board president Paul Hildebrand told the audience.

Brad Street, who lives on CR 200 N, presented a petition of those residents who are opposed to the proposed route that the trucks will use as access to SR 101. Also, Street asserts that the residents were not properly notified of the change from the original plan of access to the highway via Country Club Drive, announced in the initial public meeting with representatives from Pike Lumber earlier this year.

As representatives of the residents of CR 200 N, Street made the following formal requests: the rejection of the proposed zoning change from R-1 Residential and A-2 Agricultural to I-1 Industrial; that the board consider moving the location of the proposed business or walk away from the proposed venture; a request for an immediate copy of the meeting at which the alternative route was discussed; the most current plans of the access road proposed; and finally that the town board award the same rights and consideration given to the resident of Country Club Drive.

Street and those in opposition to the truck route assured the town board members that they are not opposed to new industry developing in Milan, but rather the proposed truck route. Preliminary reports from Pike Lumber from the first public meeting stated that an average of two trucks per hour during hours of operation will be entering and exiting the facility.

The town board had approached the county commissioners regarding the use of the county road as entrance and exit to the facility as well as SR 101. At the suggestion of the county highway superintendent and Aecon, an engineering company used by the county on several projects, the town will need to improve the roadway by adding a three inch overlay and gravel berms where needed.

Gary Norman, Executive Director of the Ripley County Economic Development, recapped the Pike Lumber project. Pike Lumber has been in business since 1908. There are currently two facilities located in Akron and Carbon.

Pike currently has a staging area in Lookout. All by-products of the logging operation are used, for example: sawdust is compressed into pellets. According to Norman, the company expects to employ approximately 20 jobs at an average wage of approximately $14 per hour.

As was stated at the August Planning Commission meeting, Pike Lumber chose the location because of a nearby lake and the water table, important for the processing of the lumber. Norman explained that the economic impact would be about $30 million over a ten-year period. This would mean money put into local economy via the purchase of goods and services.

At the same meeting, Ripley County Extension Director David Osborne stated that Pike was environmentally responsible. The company will be working with IDEM and the Indiana DNR to prevent any flood damage or any contaminate issues.

Norman stated that he is confident that no other business would be interested in locating in the location where Pike Lumber will be situated. “Most businesses will want to locate in a more level area, Norman said.

As part of the agreement between the town and Pike Lumber, those available jobs will be given to those who live in the Milan area. “If we can keep jobs in the town, then we can keep money in the town,” said Hildebrand.

In other business, the board unanimously approved the hiring of Jeff French as surveyor for the project as well as Barth and Associates as engineer.