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KDA neighbors raise concerns

By BOB MOREHEAD

BGNN senior staff writer

NORTON  Rezoning an industrial parcel on S Cleveland Massillon Road has the public’s attention as dozens turned out for the public hearing March 18.

A few spoke in favor of the bid. Several who spoke against conceded the benefit to the city but were worried.

The request from multinational conglomerate Saint-Gobain is asking Norton to rezone the land from light industrial to heavy industry to clear the way for a ceramics factory on the site.

KDA built a custom fabricating plant on the site in 2016. In 2021, the company leased the original building to Kyoto Cooling and broke ground on a second building and office complex next door. Saint-Gobain, should the rezoning be approved, Saint Gobain will inhabit the new building. This would make KDA’s David Klossner the landlord of his own industrial park.

Columbia Heights residents, many of whom abut the parcel, expressed hatred of “the hideous” new building which replaced their sylvan view.

“I understand industry is coming and it’s important,” one resident said. “But if it’s going to be built, can’t you give us something pretty to look at?”

Ries Street resident Robert Stewart also conceded the inevitability but asked what protections resident have against the also-inevitable industrial accident.

City administrator Dennis Loughry said the property contains an array of covenants restricting what can be done there with the I-2 zoning.

“I count 41 restrictions,” Councilman Paul Tousley said.

Also up for readings was a companion piece rezoning adjacent land the city owns, for both future expansion for Saint-Gobain if they want it and as a buffer for abutting neighbors.

Dan Sherman, of Saint-Gobain’s Stow plant, along with general manager Tihana Tresler, assured residents this facility will produce only ceramic beads used to carry catalysts in petrochemical manufacture. Aluminum and silica, basically sand, are mixed with tiny wood chips and cooked around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit; the sawdust is vaporized, leaving the nooks and crannies for the catalyst. The catalyst is added by the end user and would have no place in the Norton plant.

Paris-based Saint-Gobain predates the United States by several decades. Its first commission was the mirrors in the Palace at Versailles.

 

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