“Boys, we’ve got some roads to build!” the project manager for a new FedEx facility near Chino Airport exclaimed to construction workers outside Chino city council chambers minutes after the council approved the project, 4-1.
Courtney Lehman, the project manager representing developer Scannell Properties, was visibly relieved by the vote after a public hearing for the project had been continued from July 16 because of the council’s concerns about the truck traffic the $90 million project will generate, and speculation on how many Chino Valley residents would actually be employed at the facility.
Councilman Marc Lucio voted against the project because he said he believes it will further congest roads around the Preserve area of south Chino. He was also concerned that there is no Chino Police satellite office in the area to quickly handle any issues that might arise.
Proposed is a 503,000 square foot parcel delivery facility on 74.4 acres on the southwest corner of Flight and Merrill avenues. It includes a sorting/distribution building and four ancillary structures, including a gateway building, a maintenance building and two guardhouses. The project had been downsized from the 760,000-square-foot building planned on 140 acres when it was initially proposed in 2016.
Also planned for the facility are several “green” initiatives, including the use of only electric switchers to move truck trailers back and forth from the loading dock to the yard. Mr. Lehman said this is the first time in the nation that a Scannell project will use switchers powered 100 percent by electricity. Most switchers are fueled with diesel. The facility will also have a $3.6 million solar panel system and 20 electric car charging stations to energize 80 vehicles.
Mr. Lehman said the facility will generate $417,000 in taxes and fees annually for the local government.
The installation of a $100 million conveyor system into the distribution facility will generate $1 million in one-time sales tax on its own, Mr. Lehman said.
The site is surrounded by planned business parks and commerce centers, some which are currently under construction. Chino Airport is just to the west of the proposed facility. Mr. Lehman said many of FedEx’s customers are in the surrounding area, including the Walmart distribution center.
In its initial phase, the FedEx facility is expected to employ 427 employees, increasing to 689 in its final phase, Mr. Lehman said. Of that final number, 499 will be package handlers making from $14.25 to $17.25 an hour, 77 will be administrative staff making from $30,000 to $50,000 a year, and 113 will be management making from $60,000 to $140,000 a year. All employees will receive full benefits, he said.
Six members of the public spoke in favor of the project, including four Chino residents who said the new facility would cut down on their commute time from other FedEx facilities where they now work, or would provide them opportunity for employment. When Mr. Lehman asked people in the audience to stand if they would benefit from the project, about 30 stood, including staff members from the firms that will build the facility. No member of the public spoke against the project at Tuesday’s meeting.
Truck ban a condition
Since the July 16 meeting, Scannell has agreed to four additional conditions for the project.
They include prohibiting large trucks with three or more axles from using Kimball Avenue between Euclid and Hellman avenues, committing to no air freight use at Chino Airport, paying the $833,800 penalty to convert the property from agricultural zoning to light industrial, and depositing $5 million in escrow, giving the city of Chino bargaining power to work with Ontario on future improvements to Merrill Avenue.
City Manager Matt Ballantyne said later that an item would be brought to the council in a future meeting to ban all large truck traffic on Kimball from Euclid to Hellman avenues.
Scannell will spend $5.5 million to improve the infrastructure surrounding the site, including re-constructing the intersection of Grove and Merrill avenues, raising it three feet to remedy flooding in the area and installing a traffic signal there. Scannell will also install traffic signals at Merrill and Flight avenues and Remington and Flight avenues, as well as complete a half-street from an interior airport road to Grove Avenue.
City council members said this is work that the city cannot currently afford to do.
All told, Scannell plans to invest $17.9 million to provide improvements in preparation for the facility.
Construction is expected to begin in October with completion in November 2020. The roadwork projects are planned to begin in March 2020 with completion in October 2020. The facility is expected to begin full operations in October 2021.
Nick Ligouri, Chino’s director of development services, said four environmental impacts of the project cannot be fully mitigated: the loss of the agricultural zoning, air quality issues caused by emissions, increased traffic, and land use planning.
City officials said that a different project developed on the site, such as a residential development, would likely create the same impacts.
Chino Mayor Eunice Ulloa said the city will experience growing pains for some years to come as infrastructure catches up with development in the area.