LORDSTOWN – The village is threatening to review site plan approval for Ultium Cells – a facility that will eventually employ more than 1,000 local workers – unless it agrees to reimburse Lordstown for costs associated with a blaze temporary signage on national road 45.
And if Ultium Cells doesn’t agree to pay $15,000 for the design work and up to $30,000 to install the signal, the village council, when it meets today, will also repeal an ordinance approved on September 6 accepting signal design and construction proposals. .
A Sept. 7 letter from village attorney Paul M. Dutton to executives of Ultium Cells and General Motors seeks confirmation that the auto parts maker will reimburse Lordstown for the work.
Otherwise, he says, the council would ask the village planning commission to review the site plan approval and repeal the legislation.
One of the items on today’s agenda is to rescind the previous approval.
Dutton’s letter and the concept that village officials will follow have sparked discontent among several local elected officials, business and economic development officials.
The group, in a letter to the village council on Sunday, “strongly urges” that council to “reject any idea” of overturning the ordinance and asks the village planning commission to review the approval of the site plan.
It says Mayor Arno Hill and council publicly agreed that Lordstown should pay for the temporary signal and the order – approved by council and later signed by Hill – does not stipulate any kind of reimbursement.
Dutton’s letter, dated a day after the Sept. 6 vote, is “inappropriate,” the letter to the board says.
“Such action, taken against a company creating over 1,000 jobs, with the potential to create over 1,000 additional jobs, and investing over $2 billion in our community, would have a chilling effect on other companies considering to expand or relocate to our community,” the group’s letter reads.
According to Dutton’s letter, Kellie Bordner, the village planning and zoning administrator, told council on September 6 that as part of the site plan review process, Ultium Cells agreed to do a study of traffic and, if recommended, to install a traffic light at the driveway of the factory on the national road 45.
Columbus-based DLZ, an architectural, engineering, and surveying consulting firm, determined in a May 2020 study that “installation of a traffic light in the “employee driveway for proposed Magellan projects is recommended for mitigation”.
Magellan was the establishment’s first working name.
Bordner also told the board that approval for the Ultium Cells project was conditional on four items that needed to be completed, including the traffic study and the installation of light.
There is no mention, however, in Dutton’s letter regarding Bordner’s statements whether the signal is temporary or permanent.
Similarly, it appears in the summary of the DLZ study that there is no distinction between a temporary signal or a permanent signal; it simply indicates that a traffic light is recommended.
The September 6 order authorizes the village to accept the design proposal from CT Consultants Inc., the engineering company used by Lordstown, and the construction proposal from Main Lite Electric Co. in Warren.
A spokeswoman for Ultium Cells said the company would be disappointed if the board proceeded to repeal the order. A traffic light, according to Brooke Waid, would improve public safety on State Route 45.
She also noted that the September 6 order did not call on the developer/landowner to pay for temporary signal engineering. Instead, the legislation “specified that the village would pay the costs of (a) temporary signal,” she wrote in an email.
She added that the company is ready to work with the village, the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments and the state “on a collaborative solution for (a) permanent signal that supports public safety at the entrance of the employees” on national road 45.
Hill said he remained neutral.
“You pick your battles, and this one I’m going to sit down and let the board let everyone know what their opinion is,” he said.
It was unclear late Sunday what impact, if any, such board action to review Ultium Cells’ site plan approval might have on operations at the new plant.
Ultium Cells is a joint venture between GM and South Korea’s LG Energy Solutions to mass-produce EV battery cells for the automaker. The $2.3 billion state-of-the-art factory in Lordstown is the first in operation of four under construction or planned.
The company announced in August that production had begun and expects to begin shipping parts for GM vehicles by the end of the year.
The plant currently employs about 800 workers and expects to well exceed the 1,100 workers the company had anticipated needing, a senior official said Aug. 31.
The batteries will now go into vehicles such as the Hummer and Chevrolet Silverado electric vehicles and the Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV.
opposed to action
Those who sent a letter to Lordstown Council on Sunday asking it to reject any idea of overturning an ordinance for the design and construction of a temporary traffic light for Ultium Cells as well as asking the village planning commission to reviewing the plant layout plan approval are:
Anthony Cafaro Jr., Co-Chairman, The Cafaro Company
Mauro Cantalamessa, Trumbull County Commissioner
Sam Covelli, President and CEO, Covelli Enterprises
Guy Coviello, President/CEO, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber
James Kinnick, Executive Director, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments
Ron Klingle, CEO/CAO, Avalon Holdings
Martin Loney, Chairman of the Board, Western Reserve Port Authority
Teresa Miller, Executive Director, Valley Economic Development Partners
Edward Muransky, CEO, The Muransky Companies
Anthony Payiavlas, President and CEO, AVI Foodsystems
Carol Rimedio-Righetti, Chair, Mahoning County Commissioners
Michael Schrock, Chairman of the Board, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber
Anthony Trevena, Executive Director, Western Reserve Port Authority