RANSON — When Rockwool decided last year to purchase 130 rural acres to build its insulation factory at a former orchard site in Ranson, the international Danish company took explicit legal steps to restrict activities around its future factory.
Those restrictions bar future homes, schools and health care facilities from emerging next to or near the company's 460,000-square-foot plant.
According to Jefferson County court records, a July 7, 2017 property purchase agreement between Rockwool and the corporate owner of the orchards property, Jefferson Orchards Inc., imposes specific future land-use restrictions on the Rockwool plant site. That property purchase agreement prohibits any residential development, nursing home, hospice or inpatient medial treatment facility, church or religious center or residential shelter from operating on the 130 acres Rockwool purchased as well as any “certain future lands that [Rockwool] intends to acquire” on the former orchard site.
The agreement also specifically prevents “education facilities dedicated to the education of minors” and child care businesses — among other types of businesses — from operating within 1,000 feet of the boundary line “on the eastern portion of the property.”
Rockwool officials said the legal land-use stipulations in the company's property purchase agreement involve ensuring appropriate zoning and land use around its factory site. The restrictions have nothing to do with any potential hazards at or from the factory' operations, said Leslie McLaren, Rockwool's North American corporate communications manager.
"It is Rockwool’s practice to only build our factories on land that is zoned for traditional industrial use," McLaren said. "The land stipulations is all about land zoning use and has nothing to do with emissions. It is about being a good and responsible neighbor."
Ranson's broad and flexible mixed-use Smart Code zoning procedures had allowed for some possible land uses at the orchard site — including residential development and school construction — that would not be compatible on a day-to-day basis next to the Rockwool plant operating 24 hours a day, McLaren said. Surrounding all of Rockwool's factories with other commercial uses ensures the company's plants won't disrupt immediate neighbors with its ongoing industrial activities, whether that might be continual truck traffic, nighttime lighting or regular machinery noise, she said.
"It's a busy industrial manufacturing facility," McLaren said of the Ranson site. "Because we are corporate citizens that we want to be mindful of our neighbors. … That's why we put it in. It has nothing to with emissions."
— To read more news about the Rockwool project, please refer to this week's Spirit of Jefferson, on sale now