A $16 million expansion of the Liebherr campus that will bring around 20 new jobs to Saline gained preliminary site plan approval at the City of Saline planning commission meeting Wednesday.
Liebherr Gear Technology, which has been operating in the Liebherr Aerospace building on Woodland Drive, will move its operations in to a newly constructed building on 16.9 acres on the northwest quadrant of its 54.6 acre parcel located between Maple Road and Woodland Drive.
Mayor Brian Marl lauded the investment.
“Communities are not sustainable without investment, revenue and jobs for our people,” Marl said.
Jens Kretzchmar, vice president of supply chain and production for Liebherr Gear Technology, said the company currently utilizes 65 employees. That number should jump to 85 when the new building is complete. In addition, Liebherr Aerospace has plans to use the space vacated by its gear operations, though Kretzchmar could not say how many jobs that might create.
The building will have a 73,500 square-foot floor plan and will be surrounded by paved parking with truck access (less than 10 trucks a day) to an existing drive off Maple Road and employee access from a new drive to be constructed south of the building. Water will be supplied from a new water main proposed to be installed at the northwest corner of the property, which will also serve the approved Layher Farms.
A berm and trees will provide screening from Maple Road. The building will be located about 345 feet from the northern boundary of the property, which is adjacent to the Layher Farms property. The access drive between the building and Layher Farms will be lined with trees.
Among several conditions, the builder will need to apply for a variance to construct a 50-foot tall building. The height is required to operate a crane within the building.
Asked about noise, Kretzchmar said he thought the day-to-day operations wouldn’t be heard from outside the building. The company engages in assembly more than manufacturing, so pollution will not be a problem, Kretzchmar said.
Liebherr Gear Technology produces gear manufacturing machines and automated systems. It has been renting space in Liebherr Aerospace.
Planners unanimously granted approval of the preliminary site plan, with one abstention. Commissioner Jerrod Hart abstained because his wife is an employee of Liebherr.
Mayor Brian Marl said Liebherr would likely be back in July for final site plan approval. The decisions on the variances will be made by the ZBA.
The first building on the new Liebherr campus was completed in 2016.
(Editor's note: This article was corrected to note the the value of the project is $16 million, and not $60 million.)