By Rachel Hagenbaugh | Staff Writer
Problems so far have been minimal for the Newell Rubbermaid distribution center. Resident Anthony Masiella is pleased about the response he's received from the company and township regarding his concerns about the 807,000-square-foot facility.
On the west side of the distribution center is a subdivision with about 20 houses. Some of the residents have lived there for 30 years and were used to seeing farmland where the building now sits.
Masiella is concerned with the floodlights that are attached to the building, which are shielded and face the ground but reflect light off the white siding and into his home on Estes Drive.
"It almost looks like there's headlights beaming back at us," Masiella said.
Masiella contacted Rubbermaid to see what could be done about the lights, which have been online for about a month. Dan Kane, senior manager of distribution at Newell Rubbermaid, came out one morning before the sun rose to see the lights for himself and agreed it was rather bright, Masiella said.
"He's talking with electricians and contractors who are putting up this building to see exactly what can be done to help us out," Masiella said. "He's called and talked to me twice about it, and I'm thrilled about that."
Temporarily, Kane turned off one of the floodlights directly behind Masiella's house. Hannah Van Malssen, Corporate Communications for Newell Rubbermaid, said they ordered additional shields to direct light away from the building.
"Our partnerships with the communities in which we operate are very important to us," Van Malssen said. "We are working closely with local officials and residents to help ensure a smooth transition and minimize disruption to neighbors."
Part of the building's original plans to deter light and noise from affecting nearby homes included land berms and rows of trees around the perimeter. Brimfield Zoning Inspector Richard Messner said the mounding was required to be 5-feet high spread across a 30-foot radius, but he extended it to 10-to-15-feet high across a 50-foot radius to protect the building from most of the residents.
"The trees they put in would be nice if they had a back drop of two rows of pine trees," Masiella said. "I don't think there's enough shrubbery to cover this building."
Van Malssen said a series of evergreens will be planted along the west side of the building to provide a more efficient barrier.
Masiella said he also has concerns regarding the noise pollution once the building opens. There are about 15 loading docks on the west side of the building, which has been zoned as light industrial for warehousing and distribution use, Van Malssen said.
"We had them put the main trucking areas on the east side of the building," Messner said. "Most of the truck traffic is going to be facing the industrial park rather than the residential park."
When the project began, Messner said he made sure the engineers and architects built the distribution center as far to the southeast as possible, away from the subdivision.
"When you get a huge change like this you're going to have concerns," Messner said. "We went above our normals to ensure that we're giving as much protection as possible to the residents."