The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 18, 2013

MAPC OKs canola plant zoning

By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Metropolitan Area Planning Commission commissioners on Monday night approved rezoning about 400 acres of land for a proposed Northstar Agri Industries canola plant.

MAPC members recommended, and the city commission in January approved, a tax increment finance district to fund incentives for the plant and infrastructure improvements to support its construction and operation.

The TIF district is designed to create as much as $27 million in incentives over 25 years, including up to $15 million in incentives for Northstar and compensation to the city for $12 million in infrastructure improvements to support the plant.

The canola plant is expected to be operational by March 2015 and employ 55 workers with an annual payroll of $3.75 million.

The canola plant development will cost about $200 million and will include a five-mile rail loop.

The proposed canola plant will be situated on almost 400 acres between 66th and 78th, bounded by Willow to the north and the BNSF main line to the south, about one mile north of U.S. 412.

Mike Postier, who owns a home immediately north of the proposed plant location, spoke in opposition to the rezoning last night.

“I realize how important this is as far as dollars coming into this town, the good-paying jobs it’s going to provide, and I realize the ad valorem value it will have for our schools,” Postier said. “I would just like to stress to you all the negative effects it’s going to have on the home my wife and I purchased 20-some years ago, and we plan to live there the rest of our lives.”

Postier said he already has been unable to obtain a renovation loan for the home due to uncertainty surrounding the property value after the canola plant is developed.

Postier also expressed concern over the noise generated by the rail spur being so close to his house.

“Quite honestly, there are negative effects to this,” Postier said. “I’m not opposed to the development and the furtherance of Enid and Garfield County, but I feel it’s going to have a devastating effect on my property values and my quality of life out there.”

MAPC Commissioner Aaron Brownlee expressed regret over the negative effects, but moved to approve the rezoning.

“It’s tough to approve this after hearing that, but we’re pretty invested in the project,” Brownlee said.

MAPC unanimously approved the rezoning and changed the land designation from agricultural to high-intensity industrial.

In other business, MAPC approved a use by review for Drummond Public Schools to place five 133.5-foot wind turbines on school property east of Oklahoma 132 and south of Drummond, described as being in the south half of the northwest quarter of section 14, township 21 north, range 8 west of the Indian Meridian in Garfield County.

Commissioners elected Marvin Kusik as their new chairman and Cole Ream as the new vice chairman.