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Munroe Falls -- The city has given an initial OK for a longtime business to expand its Northmoreland Avenue headquarters.
The planning commission gave unanimous approvals July 27 to a 7,000-square-foot addition to Thompson Electric Inc. The approvals required two votes, the first for the construction of a two-story addition to the main building, and the second for the construction of an addition to an accessory building.
Approval of the accessory building addition is contingent upon board of zoning appeals approval of a variance to allow a 10-foot setback from the property line, rather than the 28 feet required by city zoning codes. Also any existing screening along the south and west property lines that is disturbed by construction of the accessory building addition will have to be replaced as a condition of the planning commission approval.
The BZA was scheduled to consider the request for the setback variance July 26, but Mayor James Armstrong said the meeting had to be canceled due to the anticipated lack of a quorum. The next scheduled BZA meeting is Aug. 23.
Service Director Jim Bowery told the Stow Sentry after the July 27 planning commission meeting that legislation involving both additions is expected to come before City Council Aug. 2.
Thompson Electric President Larry Thompson told the commission that the additions are needed because the current facility is becoming cramped.
"Thompson Electric has grown significantly over the last five years," he said. "The growth has required me to add additional office space and add additional warehouse space."
He added, "We've been encroaching on our warehouse space over the last five years, taking over more and more warehouse space for office space."
Thompson said the two-story addition to the main building, which he identified as the priority of the two additions, will add 1,500 square feet of warehouse space on the ground floor and 1,500 square feet on the second floor for offices and a training center.
The accessory building addition will be about 4,000 square feet.
"It's for storage of equipment, tools and trucks," said Thompson.
He said existing screening on the property's south side includes 35-foot pine trees planted years ago and on the west side, woods. Only screening on the west side is expected to be disturbed, said Thompson, and that since he lives nearby, on Steeplechase Lane, he is well motivated to make sure there is proper screening.
"I don't want to look at the side wall," he said.
Thompson told the Stow Sentry after the meeting that he wants to get moving on at least the two-story addition, to include five offices and the training center.
"I'd like to do both additions this year," he said.
He said the company has about 250 employees, up from 125 to 150 five years ago. Numbers have fluctuated between 250 to 300 over the last two years, based on the need at any given time. The Northmoreland headquarters, said Thompson, has 30 full-time employees, up from 25 five years ago, with other employees coming and going based on the need.
The company is interviewing for three additional positions, including a manager and two drivers.
According to Thompson Electric's website, Thompson founded the company in 1977 with his father. The company "installs and maintains substations, builds and rebuilds overhead and underground distribution and transmission lines, installs and maintains highway lighting and traffic controls," as well as commercial and industrial electrical work," according to the website.
After the planning commission meeting, Mayor James Armstrong told the Stow Sentry that he is pleased by the approvals.
"They are one of our best employers," he said. "Larry Thompson is a first-class employer, a first-class citizen and in my opinion, everything Thompson Electric does is first class."
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