NORTH ROYALTON – The Planning Commission recently granted its blessing on the site plans Woodland Mulch LLC has for Mulch World, which it is in the process of purchasing the move is, that are expected to have a positive impact on nearby Independence Place West neighbors who say they have long dealt with quality of life issues.
Paul Hochstetler, owner of Woodland Mulch, presented his plans for the site at 12020 York Road during the Jan. 3 Planning Commission meeting. Hochstetler intends to move a branch of his business to the York site.
Mulch is produced at Woodland’s facility in Kidron and then shipped to its satellite sales locations in Navarre and Wooster.
“What we are targeting here at this branch is the local landscaper,” Hochstetler told Panning.
The site has been a bone of contention over the years.
Mulch World opened about four years ago solely as a mulch supply business. Before then, the property, which lies in the general industrial business district, was a vacant, wooded lot on the northern cusp of the York industrial area that tapers and transitions into residential neighborhoods. In 2015, plans were brought forward to lease a portion of the site to a small trucking company but those plans were rejected by Planning after hearing quality of life and property value concerns from Independence Place West.
Hochstetler assured that his operations will be less disruptive.
“There’s a couple things we will not be doing that I think was done in the past. We will not be doing any processing of any type on the property,” he explained. “These products are brought in by our trucks, they are not dump trucks … it’s a lot lower impact trailer. One thing we really considered when we did the site plan for the bins was to set bins up that if they are unloading and it’s still dark, that lights are shining to the south,” he said.
He said his business is seasonal: open March through November. Peak months are April through June. In March and July through November, activity decreases 50-80 percent depending on the weather.
North Royalton Building Commissioner Dan Kulchytsky said the new ownership should improve conditions for neighbors.
“As part of the proposal, they are modifying and extending landscape berms to the north and adding landscaping on the York Road side to better screen the property. The manufacture of mulch will no longer occur at this site, which was noisier, and there will no longer be a tree service there,” he said.
Sean Cooper, Independence Place West’s condominium association president, said it seems as though things will improve but he hopes serious consideration and review is given to the landscaping and buffering between the mulch bins and homes.
“It’s a garbage dump is what it is right in the middle of our neighborhood,” he said of the former site during the meeting. “It seems like it will be a lot better. Some trees and some landscaping and a small fence of some sort right behind those bins would be great. It’s unpleasant, it has ruined life over here. I really do hope this new place is much better … I hope it works out.”
Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw could not attend but his statement was read where he asked that three things be clarified and considered as specific conditions for site approval: that they are not doing any kind of mulch processing with heavy machinery, that they replace all the dead trees along the north property line and front property line, and that they explain how much tractor-trailer traffic they will have and if they will avoid deliveries during peak rush hour traffic. Planning Commission had required these same items be addressed by the applicant before granting its approval.
“This property has been a concern for residents living next door in Independence Pace Condominiums with the operations of the current owner of Mulch World specifically noise and lack of good buffering issues for a few years. I find it positive that the applicant does not have any plans to process the mulch,” Langshaw’s letter stated. “It is my hope with this new business that they can resolve past issues residents have had and improve this overall area of Ward 3.”