Source: Sherman Publications

Rezoning request boils down to future flexibility

by CJ Carnacchio

December 05, 2012

A company doesn’t manage to stay in business for 107 years without keeping an eye toward the future.

That’s exactly what’s behind the M.D. Hubbard Spring Company’s request to rezone its 595 S. Lapeer Rd. property from general commercial (C-2) to light industrial (I-1).

The Oxford Township Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing on the matter on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. It will take place on the second floor of the Oxford Veterans Memorial Civic Center (28 N. Washington St.).

Charles Hubbard, president and owner of the company his grandfather, Martin Dawson Hubbard, founded in Pontic in 1905, said the request is simply about giving M.D. Hubbard Spring Co. some flexibility for the future.

Right now, it doesn’t have much.

If the manufacturer of standard and custom metal parts ever wants to expand its 25,000-square-foot facility, it cannot do so because the business is classified as a nonconforming use under the current zoning, a fact Hubbard was made aware of in 2004.

“We looked at it back then and that’s when we stumbled into this thing,” he said.

Hubbard is considering increasing the company’s storage capacity at some point.

“You can get better pricing if you buy bigger quantities, just like at the grocery store,” he explained. “We’re running out of space to store all sorts of extra stuff.”

But it’s not just the ability to expand that’s hindered by the current zoning.

If the company ever wishes to sell its property, which amounts to a little more than 3 acres, the value would be less as a commercial property as opposed to an industrial one, according to Hubbard.

Given the history of the property and its surroundings, the rezoning request doesn’t appear to be out of line.

M.D. Hubbard Spring, which employs about 35 workers, has been doing business in that location since 1973.

Prior to that, the property had been occupied by another manufacturing business since 1950.

Hubbard’s property abuts the village’s industrial district to the east and borders other industrial property to the north.

Hubbard made it clear the rezoning request is more about being prepared for the future than implementing any concrete plans in the present.

“We have no plans to expand right now. We have to no plans to sell right now,” he said. “But if we ever wanted to do either one of those, it takes a couple of months to rezone (a property). Why not do it now and shave off a couple of months of the process five years from now or whenever.”

Hubbard was pleased to report that his family’s company has thus far survived the economic storm and “business is decent.”

“There’s a few new programs that have come our way,” he said. “Our kind of business is up and down. You weather the bad times like we when went through three years ago or in 1980 or in 1932.”

It’s interesting to note that M.D. Hubbard Spring Co. isn’t just a manufacturer, it’s a part of American and aviation history.

An expansion plug that it manufactured – and continues to make to this day – was used in the Ryan NYP “Spirit of St. Louis,” the famous airplane Charles A. Lindbergh piloted in May 1927 during the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

How many companies who are in business today can make that boast?