Milton Plan Commission approves Charter NEX Films expansion

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Jake Magee
August 12, 2015

MILTON—With the Milton Plan Commission's approval Tuesday night, plastic manufacturer Charter NEX Films needs only the city council's go-ahead to begin an expansion that would double its size and workforce.

The plant, which opened in 1998, currently occupies about 67,000 square feet at 1264 E. High St.

An expansion last year added 17,000 square feet to the original site, said plant manager Aaron LaPointe, which made room for four more production lines along with the five original lines.

Now the plant seeks a second expansion of 91,000 square feet, which would add warehouse space, room for four more production lines and eventually 50 new jobs, he said.

Because the expansion would make the plant itself more than 100,000 square feet, the city must approve a conditional-use permit before work can begin. While the site plan does meet green space, setback and other requirements, it falls short on landscaping.

Milton assigns points to landscaping elements based on different factors, and certain properties must meet a total point threshold based on the size to be approved.

The plan commission is recommending that the council allow the plant to expand despite falling short on landscaping. If the plant met the city's requirements, its green space would be overwhelmed with trees and shrubs, City Administrator Al Hulick said.

“It would be hard to get to that level and maintain" the landscaping, he said.

If approved, the plant would expand both east and west. City officials contacted neighbors about the possible construction and heard no negative comments. Few people would be affected because the plant is located in an industrial zone, said Howard Robinson, public works director.

A boom in business is the main driver for the expansion, LaPointe said. Charter NEX Films makes plastic seals for food, among other things.

“We supply a real high-quality product for our industry. We've seen a real big increase in demand,” he said.

By next July, the plant will have a total of nine lines, thanks to the added space from last year's expansion. With the city's blessing, the number of lines would maximize at 13, creating 50 new jobs for the 60-employee plant.

“That's kind of a big driver for me,” LaPointe said of creating new jobs. “It's a great thing to see a company that's been here for the number of years that we have, expanding. It's a bright spot.”

City officials agree the plant's growth is good for Milton.

“This project will be a tremendous expansion and investment in the Crossroads Industrial Park, which will result in additional tax base generation and employment levels for the city of Milton,” Hulick wrote in a memo to the plan commission.

It's too early to tell when the expansion will be complete, but the company plans to break ground this year, and construction goes “surprisingly quick,” LaPointe said.

The Milton City Council will approve or deny the conditional-use permit when it meets Tuesday, Aug. 18.

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