Site being looked at by Expera to expand operations in Rhinelander
BY KEVIN BONESKE
An application by Expera Specialty Solutions for a conditional use permit to increase the height of the roof and stack of the vacant Printpack building at 114 W. Kemp St. in Rhinelander received the backing Tuesday of the city’s Planning Commission.
The permit application seeks to modify the building’s roof height to a maximum of 55 feet and the stack height to a maximum of 65 feet, for which the permit would be necessary to approve the height exceeding 2 ½ stories or 35 feet.
Expera’s Rhinelander mill manager, Jeff Verdoorn, appeared before the planning commission regarding the application, in which the company is interested in the property as a prospective buyer and is seeking the modifications to allow for the installation of process equipment at the site currently zoned for industrial use.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to grow our business,” Verdoorn said. “The Printpack facility that we’re looking at matches what we could do from a process standpoint.”
Though Verdoorn noted Expera doesn’t have a project approved for the site, he told the planning commission that the company would have to be able to modify the facility to do so.
The written description of Expera’s application for the Kemp Street location states the company is seeking to purchase the facility where a process line would be installed. Though that activity would be similar to what Printpack had conducted there, some physical changes to be building would be necessary for the new process equipment.
The increase in the roof height is being sought to provide adequate clearance for the new process equipment, while Expera would also need to add emissions control equipment. Because of the changes in the roof height, which Verdoorn noted would take place on the portion of the building located near Trig’s, the project description also states it would be anticipated that the height of the stack will need to be increased to provide adequate clearance above the roof line.
Printpack had used the site to manufacture packaging materials before moving to a new facility in the Rhinelander area along Highway 17.
Verdoorn said Expera is out of space at its existing Rhinelander facility to be able to do “more of the same” with the process equipment it currently has.
The process line would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to the application project description, and employ approximately 20 full-time personnel. The existing parking areas, egress and shipping docks would be utilized for the new process line.
Several city residents living in close proximity to the site were on hand at the planning commission meeting to ask about the impact granting the permit would have on the area, such as with emissions and noise.
“They will not be making paper in the building,” commission member George Kirby said. “That’s not what the building would be set up for…. In theory, the paper is going to be made at the mill and brought over here for processing.”
Verdoorn said emissions would be regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which requires testing to validate what the emissions control equipment is doing.
Commission member Sandra Bergman said the planning commission only has a say on the permit conditions as they relate to increasing the height of the roof and stack at a site zoned for industrial use.
“It has to do with objective criteria that (are) placed before us,” Bergman said. “And the objective criteria (are) this property is properly zoned…. It has been brought forth that the paper company has been a good neighbor. Printpack has been a good neighbor. There is a potential for jobs.”
The permit application requires final approval by the full city council, which has its next meeting scheduled for July 11.