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Employees at Positronic Industries’ northwest Springfield plant currently work out of 75,000 square feet.
SBJ file photo
Employees at Positronic Industries’ northwest Springfield plant currently work out of 75,000 square feet.

Positronic seeks council approval for possible expansion

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Positronic Industries Inc. last night presented a rezoning plan to Springfield City Council for a possible future expansion to its northwest Springfield plant.

The manufacturer of electronic connectors and cable assemblies is seeking a zoning change to general manufacturing from a planned development. The plan would give the company more flexibility for future planning and development at its plant near Springfield-Branson National Airport, officials say.

“Planned developments were very popular in the 1990s,” Positronic CEO John Gentry told Springfield Business Journal this morning. “The city is moving away from them. They’re restrictive and difficult to manage. They were a good idea at the time.”

Gentry said he’s only aware of three planned developments left in Springfield, with the city moving the others into separate zoning classifications.

A planned development allows for a maximum of 150,000 square feet, which Gentry said may not be enough space in the future, since the existing building at 1325 N. Eldon Ave. already is 75,000 square feet.

“We don’t want to be locked into 75,000 square feet,” he said.

Plans are still being developed, Gentry said, and the company is doing preparatory work amid workforce consolidation plans.

The company began consolidating portions of operations at its Puerto Rico and Mount Vernon plants in March 2018, though both facilities are still functioning, Gentry said. At that time, Gentry said the company was investing $2.5 million into the Springfield plant to buy new equipment.

The Mount Vernon plant continues to handle molding operations with between 40-50 employees, and the Puerto Rico plant’s 40 employees make components, Gentry said.

At last night’s council meeting, Springfield Planning and Development Director Mary Lilly Smith said if additional development occurs, construction of sidewalks by Positronic would be required on Division Street and Eldon along with a traffic impact study.

“If the traffic impact study indicates there are improvements needed on the streets, they will be responsible for that as well,” she said.

The most recent vehicle count on Division west of West Bypass is 8,485 per day, with 804 per day on Eldon south of Division, according to city documents.

The parcel was approved as a planned development by council in January 2012, which allowed the construction of a broadcast tower for KTXR-FM radio transmissions on the northern tract, according to city documents.

The northern half has sinkholes and a sinkhole watershed, which limits development in that area, Smith said.

Council is scheduled to vote on the rezoning proposal March 25.

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