This article was written by BenitoLink intern Andrew Pearson.
Fireclay aims to add three new buildings, one for offices and two for storage and production. Together these would add 44,000 net square feet to Fireclay’s current facilities. The expansion will alleviate the overcrowding of their Aromas factory and the need for constant commuting to and from the Gilroy warehouse where much of Fireclay’s business is currently conducted.
According to the commission’s staff report, the land onto which Fireclay plans to build is set aside for industrial heavy use by San Benito County’s 2005 General Plan. The report also indicates that “The proposed project is consistent with the parcel’s Heavy Industrial (M-2) designation under the County’s zoning ordinance.”
Another report on the expansion’s environmental, tribal, transportation and community impacts found that the project would cause no harm. No members of the public objected to the impact report when it was circulated in June, and the San Benito County Business Council and Fireclay neighbor Graniterock expressed support for the company’s expansion.
Owner Eric Edelson presented Fireclay’s virtues to commissioners. He said it is a certified “B” corporation for social responsibility, and makes all its tiles in the Bay Area while paying employees a living wage. Edelson also said that Fireclay works hard to stay sustainable, using all-renewable power and offsetting 100% of its carbon output by planting trees.
Edelson noted that the operation is “bursting at the seams in our current facility” in Aromas, and suffers a loss of time and resources with workers commuting between the Aromas factory and the Gilroy warehouse.
Commissioners received one phone call when the session was opened for public comment. Resource Management Agency Director Harry Mavrogenes said that “the applicant has done a tremendous job” and urged commissioners, who had already expressed approval without yet voting, to officially approve the expansion.
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