The name of the company that will receive just short of $1 million in tax abatements from Limestone County was revealed Monday at the County Commission meeting.
Operating under the legal names Tricap Development LLC and M2H2 Holdings LLC, Cornerstone Detention Products plans to purchase and repurpose one of the former Delphi manufacturing buildings in Tanner at the tune of $20.9 million.
At the urging of Tom Hill, president of the Limestone County Economic Development Association, the commission unanimously approved the tax abatement, which includes a total of $635,380 in property taxes over a 10-year period, or $63,538 per year. The company also requested an abatement of sales tax during construction, which Hill said would be about $316,400.
Because educational taxes cannot be abated, Hill estimated the project would generate $173,200 in sales tax for Limestone County Schools. New property taxes for Limestone County Schools are estimated at $48,587 per year for a total of $485,870 over 10 years.
Kerrick Whisenant, vice president of Cornerstone Detention Products, said the company, which manufactures steel products that go into jails and prisons, will employ 50 people by the third year of operation. Pay will be approximately $18 per hour. Claborn Manufacturing will operate the factory.
“Today we are just thankful that Limestone County is willing to participate in these tax abatements,” Whisenant said. “We are excited to expand in this area.”
He said he wasn't exactly sure when work on the 300,000-square-foot building would begin because they are still waiting to close on the property.
“The goal is for that to happen before the end of the year,” Whisenant said. “It is a very interesting property, it's an evolving thing that has been subdivided a couple of times and presents its own challenges. There are extensive repairs that have to be done before its ready for manufacturing.”
Several more East Limestone residents joined longtime quarry critic Danny Barksdale at the Monday meeting to demand answers from District 2 Commissioner Steve Turner regarding his recent statements about the controversial Rogers Group quarry.
At a Nov. 28 work session, Turner responded to complaints about the quarry by reading from a prepared statement. In it, he explained the quarry was permitted by Huntsville, not Limestone County. He also reiterated his position that he has no intention to weight-limit roads around the quarry because it would single out Roger's Group and potentially expose the county to a lawsuit.
Barksdale took issue with Turner's concerns over a lawsuit, noting that the safety of the county's residents and condition of its roads take precedence over the needs of a “billion dollar company.”
“I would think that facing their (Rogers Group's) attorneys would be preferable to facing the grieving family of a lost loved one.” Barksdale said.
Residents who live near the quarry have long complained that the increased traffic from the quarry is dangerous and damages surrounding public roads and that the blasts from the operation bring down property values.
East Limestone resident Julie Bellinger told the board she has been run off of Newby Road by quarry trucks three times, ending up in a ditch one of those times.
Although she said she was grateful the county had widened portions of Newby Road with gravel, she said she is “too afraid” of the quarry trucks to travel that route anymore.
Matthew Putnam said he, too, is concerned about the state of Newby and Gray roads, which Roger's Group equipment trucks frequently travel.
“These minor roads are grossly inadequate to support this new use as evidenced by the rapid deterioration of the roadway,” Putnam said. “The inability of these large heavy trucks to maintain operation on the roadway causing damage to the shoulders of the roadway, damage to residential concrete driveways and lawns, damage to concrete pipes under the roadway and an increased adverse affect to motorists due to insufficient roadway is an ongoing problem.”
Renny York said she is also fed up with the increased traffic near the quarry and would like the commission to lower the speed limit on Newby and Gray roads and to install a four-way stop at the intersection of the two roads.
County Engineer Marc Massey said a traffic study of those areas must be completed before any such improvement can be made.
“We did a traffic study before they moved in, and a couple of weeks ago we went out to do that again, but the study came back bad,” Massey said. “The plan is to go back out this week and put traffic counters out at another location and compare the two studies to see what the change in traffic is and have it on paper in actual numbers. Then we can start making decisions and look at justification for four-way stops and reducing the speed limit.”
According to Massey, some improvements have already been done to an 800-foot expanse of Gray Road, including a 12-inch new rock base, 3 inches of binder and another inch of asphalt. That section of the road has also been widened by 1 foot on either side.
“That is a permanent fix, not a temporary patch like has been mentioned,” Massey said. “That build up is better there than any other road we currently have in the county. If the city of Huntsville will do the same on their side of the road, then that's a permanent repair.”
In other business
The five-member commission also unanimously approved franchise agreements with Charter Communications and Mediacom Southeast. Additionally, the commission appointed Chairman Colin Daly to the Solid Waste Disposal Authority and promoted John McCormick of the Limestone County Sheriff's Office to sergeant.
A 19-lot subdivision at the Ridge Phase 3, along with two lots in the Morris-Tausch subdivision and two more lots in the Johnson Road subdivision were also unanimously approved by the commission.