Within a few years, the sweet syrup in your favorite soda could well be made here in Lodi.
That's because on Wednesday night, the city's Planning Commission gave Archer Daniels Midland the go-ahead to build a massive new corn syrup distribution center off Victor Road at Guild Avenue.
The 15-acre project, which ADM hopes to break ground on as soon as possible, would include outdoor storage silos, a rail yard and railroad spur that enters the property from the Central California Traction line just east of Guild Avenue.
The center is expected to create 10 jobs at first. At its completion, it would employ 56 workers, said Ian Poulin, ADM's project manager for the distribution center.
"We're very excited about coming to Lodi and meeting the needs of your customers," Poulin told commissioners at the meeting.
Future phases would include a 95,000 square-foot dry goods warehouse and a 20,000 square-foot liquid sweetener warehouse.
Source: City of Lodi.
News-Sentinel Staff Writer
In approving the Archer Daniels Midland project Wednesday night,
the Lodi Planning Commission praised it as a well-planned and
positive addition to the city.
And while the massive east Lodi project will employ only 10 workers at first (and up to 56 by completion of its third phase), city leaders say the project provides other benefits to the city.
Planning Manager Peter Pirnejad noted the jobs created will be stable ones, given that ADM is a large, established company.
The Illinois-based ADM has also pledged to give four $10,000 grants to local nonprofit groups, a common practice for the company.
For Planning Commissioner Tim Mattheis, job creation in Lodi is important. But as a commissioner, he said he's not required to evaluate exactly how many will be created or favor one project because it creates more.
"That's not the purview of the planning commission, really," he said.
As mayor, however, it is Bob Johnson's task to consider job creation.
He said he struggles with whether to approve projects that bring relatively few new jobs to the city but use large areas of land.
The ADM plant will sit on 15 acres off Victor Road near Guild Avenue.
"It's a dilemma, or a conundrum, that's been wrestled with in my mind for years," he said.
"I'm happy that (ADM's) coming to town. I don't want anyone to say that I'm not," Johnson added. "But I do think we need to address the issue with our General Plan."
The city is in the early phases of updating that plan, essentially a guide to the city's growth.
Johnson said the city won't be able to attract large industrial employers - something comparable to General Mills, which employs hundreds of workers in Lodi - without designating more or larger industrial zones.
He noted that it's better to approve projects that bring some workers to the city than to reject them outright.
The proximity to the General Mills plant - one of ADM's customers - was a big reason the company considered the Lodi site.
The city has received little, if any, opposition to the project, said Randy Hatch, Lodi's community development director.
No one spoke against the center at the meeting.
"It's a very well-thought-out, excellent facility," noted Commissioner Bill Cummins shortly before voting to approve it.
Commissioners voted 6-0 in favor of the project, with Commissioner Randy Heinitz absent.
They were assured by Poulin and city planners that ADM will provide dense landscaping along Victor Road and Guild Avenue to shield the silos and rail yard from sight.
In all, Poulin said, 171 trees will be planted along the project's borders.
The center would be built in three phases and include an operations center, a large dry goods warehouse and a sweetener distribution building.
While it will be a big project, it doesn't compare in size to plants like General Mills or even the Mondavi Winery distribution center just north of the ADM site.
"It's nothing like a major industrial or commercial use - it's not a whale," said Hatch.
Commissioners Doug Kuehne and Wendel Kiser questioned how the rail cars will affect traffic on Victor Road, which doubles as Highway 12. Poulin acknowledged the cars will cross the road on a regular basis but won't stop and switch on it.
ADM will likely bring sweetener products to the center by rail from the Midwest, explained Lodi Senior Planner David Morimoto. From there, the products would be blended with liquid to create corn syrup.
Trucks would then take the syrup to customers throughout the region, he said.