By Laurel Callaway
After the Aug. 20 announcement that Gambro Renal Products will undergo a major expansion in Fox Run Business Park, the Opelika Planning Commission quickly approved the conditional use of property for the new development.
The expansion will occupy four acres and will run adjacent to the existing plant. Gambro manufactures dialyzers, an important component used in dialysis therapy.
The facility will have a footprint of 173,000 square feet; however, total usable space will consist of 230,000 square feet when a basement, mezzanine and penthouse are taken into account. That is significantly larger than the current 100,000 square foot manufacturing plant.
Most importantly, the expansion will create around 200 more jobs in the Opelika area.
“This expansion is significant in terms of job growth,” explained Opelika Planning Department Director Jerry Kelly.
Kelly also asked the commission to waive the Gateway Corridor building material requirements so that the new structure will be compatible with the existing plant.
The commission also gave conditional use approval for the development of a convenience store and gas station located at Capps Landing. This came after multiple concerns, which were raised during the work session meeting on Aug. 19, were answered.
One of the main issues that was declared by the commission was parking. Several of the members were concerned with the number of parking spaces, as well as how the parking will be utilized.
“Are all of the parking spaces normal, single space parking, or is some of this designated for tractor trailer parking?” commission member John McEachern asked.
Engineer Brandon Bolt assured the commission that it is to be strictly a retail service station and not a truck stop.
Michael Hilyer, head of the Public Works Department, addressed the need for clarification concerning the depth of the building over the sewer line. During the week between the work session and vote, Bolt met the city’s requirement to Hilyer’s approval.
Commission member Lewis Cherry also showed interest at the work session about the overall appearance. “I would like to hear something about the landscaping and how it will be maintained,” he stated.
The commission was in agreement that there also needed to be a few structural changes made to the plans before they would approve the construction, including a slate grey roof rather than an aluminum one.
Bolt addressed each concern and modifications were made to parking, landscaping and some building features.
The commission also:
-approved preliminary and final plats from subdivisions on two lots on Anderson Lakes Drive and two lots on Columbus Parkway.
-approved the conditional use of a C-3 retail development on Interstate Drive and an ice vending machine on 2nd Avenue.