Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

November 16, 2013

Chrysler applies for new permit in Tipton County

Citizens appeal could be a moot point

By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — TIPTON — Chrysler Group LLC filed for a new improvement location permit for the planned transmission plant in Tipton County.

Chrysler filed the application with the Tipton County Plan Commission Thursday, a day after the Board of Zoning Appeals voted to hear an appeal by three residents against the extension of a 2007 permit issued to Getrag Transmission.

“The application process has started,” Steve Edson, planning director, said Friday. “It’s an administrative function to approve the permit.”

Chrysler has yet to submit a check in the amount of $20,600 for the permit on the $108 million facility that will create 800 jobs in Tipton County.

Edson said the permit is for operation of the approved site development plan from 2007. No further approvals will be required from the plan commission if there are no substantive changes to the site plan, Edson said. The plan was first started in 2007 as a joint venture between Chrysler and Getrag to manufacture transmissions.

The application is for the completion of the facility, which is expected to be in operation in 2014.

Jodi Tinson, a spokeswoman for Chrysler, said the company is complying with the Tipton County process.

The Tipton County Commissioners could decide to waive the permit fee in the future, Edson said.

During the BZA meeting, President Jerry Acres and Tipton County attorney John Brooke said the appeal from residents Brent Snow and Nancy and Dan Carney would be a “moot” point if Chrysler applied for a new improvement location permit.

Commissioner Joe VanBibber said he can’t conceive of anything to appeal with Chrysler’s request for a new permit.

“It was no surprise,” he said of the permit application from Chrysler. “It’s my understanding that the site plan has been approved.”

The appeal contends the original improvement location permit approved for Getrag in 2007 expired and Edson didn’t have the authority to approve an extension of that permit for a new entity.

After construction work started on the plant, located on the northeast corner of U.S. 31 and Ind. 28, Getrag filed for bankruptcy and ownership of the facility was placed in a trust for contractors who had not been paid.

The building was sold by the trust to W.W. Reynolds, which was going to lease it to Abound Solar for the manufacturing of solar panels. No substantial work was done at the site for several years.

Chrysler purchased the facility in 2012 and announced this year it was investing $1.2 billion at the Tipton location and facilities in Kokomo, creating 1,200 new jobs.

The Tipton and Kokomo facilities will manufacture eight- and nine-speed transmissions to improve fuel economy and performance in Chrysler vehicles.