Munroe Falls -- A longtime city employer has taken yet another step in its expansion plans.

Service Director Jim Bowery said the board of zoning appeals approved a variance request Aug. 23 that will allow Thompson Electric to construct a 4,000-square-foot addition to an accessory building near the company's Northmoreland Avenue headquarters to be built 10 feet from the property line, rather than the 28 feet required by city ordinances. Company President Larry Thompson has said there would be no issues with the owner of the abutting property owner since he is the owner.

The planning commission, on July 27, approved the expansion contingent upon BZA approval of the variance and that any landscape buffering on the property's south and west sides that is disturbed by construction be replaced.

The commission also approved an expansion, without conditions, for a two-story addition to Thompson Electric's main building, including 1,500 square feet of warehouse space on the ground floor and 1,500 square feet on the second floor for additional offices and a safety training room.

City Council approved the main building expansion and gave first reading to the accessory building expansion Aug. 2. It is scheduled to give third reading to the accessory building expansion Sept. 6. Council discussed the expansions Aug. 2, with no one expressing opposition.

"Hopefully we can work this out. He's a great large employer," said Councilor Jim Iona, who is chairman of Council's community and economic development committee.

"Great business," said Councilor Steve Stahl. "I think we need to do this."

Thompson told Council that he was OK with waiting until Sept. 6 for the accessory building approval because the addition to the main building is the bigger priority.

"That would be fine," he said.

Thompson told the commission that the expansions are needed because of growth over the last five years resulting in lost warehouse space as office space has expanded. He said the accessory building expansion would be used for storage of equipment, tools and trucks.

He said he is motivated to replace any disturbed screening of trees since he lives on Steeplechase Lane to the south.

Thompson told the Stow Sentry after the commission meeting that he hopes to have both additions constructed by the end of the year.

He said the company has about 250 employees, up from 125 to 150 five years ago. Numbers have fluctuated between 250 to 300 over the last two years, based on the need at any given time. The headquarters, said Thompson, has 30 full-time employees, up from 25 five years ago, with other employees coming and going based on the need.

According to Thompson Electric's website, Thompson founded the company in 1977 with his father. The company "installs and maintains substations, builds and rebuilds overhead and underground distribution and transmission lines, installs and maintains highway lighting and traffic controls," as well as commercial and industrial electrical work," according to the website.

Thompson told Council Aug. 2 that he is committed to the city.

"My business has been here for 39 years and I've lived here since 1989," said Thompson. "It's a great place to live and work."


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