Solon Celebrates Nestle Win as City Looks to Planning Process
City officials celebrated the victory for Nestle, but said they will work hard to address concerned neighbors.
City officials praised voters for approving Nestle's bid to rezone land for a new research facility, saying that the move will secure the company's future in Solon and provide stability to the city's industrial base.
But Mayor Susan Drucker also said she understands that neighbors near the proposed facility have concerns and she plans to work with them to have those addressed as Nestle's plans move through the city approval process.
"I think for the city this was a successful vote," Drucker said. "Nestle has been a wonderful business partner to our community.
"I welcome their research and development center, but at the same time I am well aware there are residents in that immediate area and we will work to address their concerns."
The rezoning received nearly 85 percent approval from voters citywide. In Ward 5, where majority support was also needed, about 70 percent of voters approved it.
Roz O'Hearn, a Nestle spokeswoman, thanked voters for approving the rezoning in a statement.
"We're very pleased that Solon residents understand that this new global R&D center is as important to their own community as it is to Nestle," she said. "By voting yes on Issue 95, Solon residents have secured new investment And new jobs for Solon."
A group called Solon Residents Against Rezoning opposed the rezoning, arguing that rezoning residential land for industrial use set a bad precedent in the city. They also expressed concerns about lighting and traffic.
Ward 5 Councilwoman Nancy Meaney said she likes the project, but wants to make sure all parties are satisfied.
"I do think its going to be a good thing for Solon," Meaney said. "We are going to continue working with the residents and Nestle. The administration and myself are going to work hard to make sure this is a good thing for all concerned.”
Nestle, one of Solon's largest employers, wants to build a new research and development facility on land it owns in Solon off Cannon Road near Hawthorne Parkway.
Winning the rezoning does not give Nestle permission to build the facility. It only rezones the land from residential to industrial. Nestle will still have to submit a variety of plan to the city for approval, ranging from design plans to landscaping to storm water runoff.
The project will be vetted by city planners as well as a number of city commissions, including planning and public works. Public hearings will be held on the project, both at the planning commission level and, ultimately, at city council, which will issue a final decision.
"Everything was conceptual before, now they will have to submit site plans and design work," Drucker said.
That land is zoned residential and must be zoned industrial before the company can build. The company collected signatures from residents to get the rezoning on the ballot.
Company officials said the new facility will help Nestle expand its growing business for frozen foods.
The facility would expand Nestle's footprint in Solon and add between 40 to 60 new jobs. Solon city officials support the rezoning effort.