The Boone County Commission is expected to approve a tax break for American Outdoor Brands to build a distribution center in the north part of the county, off Route Z and I-70.
AOB is the sister company to Battenfield Technologies and both companies are currently owned by Smith & Wesson.
The first phase is to build a 500,000-square-foot warehouse that would employ about 89 new hires. The second phase would involve adding to the warehouse and employing up to 325 new employees.
“This really is an easier decision for the County Commission, bringing in this number of jobs with that significant of an investment,” said Boone County Commissioner Fred Parry. “They deserve the (50 percent) abatement because of the contribution they’re making back to this community.”
But with the proposed tax break will come the possibility of some traffic headaches on Route Z, and the Boone County Commission is hoping to get out ahead of any problems.
“We have some sight distance issues that need to be addressed,” said Parry.
According to Missouri Department of Transportation district engineer Mike Schupp, two areas on Route Z that have been proposed as entrances to the facility didn’t meet the sight distance requirement.
The road has a few hills that make it difficult to see the road in front of drivers.
“You have to be able to see so many feet in one direction,” said Schupp. “We want people to have enough time to stop and avoid a collision.”
Schupp said the entrances could be “tweaked” and moved to a place where the sight distance meets requirements but for now, road improvements in front of the proposed entrances are necessary.
“Those can be addressed by simply grading down parts of Route Z and taking out some of the slope on the two hillsides that are on either side of the property,” said Parry.
Parry said the County Commission’s long-term plans include extending Clark Lane to the east in order to have AOB put its driveway on Clark Lane instead of having an access point on Route Z.
“When the semitrucks are coming in, they typically take a wider turn,” said Parry. “We want to have a wider entrance so that we can get those trucks off of Route Z a little quicker and easier.”
The Missouri Department of Transportation could also add a four-way stop or traffic signal at the intersection of Route Z and I-70 as well.
If construction on Route Z and I-70 ends up being a reality, as Parry expects it will be, the project will be paid for with community block grants from the federal government that total about $2 million.
“The company (AOB) cannot use it for their own benefit but it has to be used for the public good,” said Parry. “So those funds are being used to improve Route Z, which should offset any negative impact building a facility of this size out here might have.”
Parry said that as more development starts to take place on this side of the county, the County Commission wants to make sure there is adequate infrastructure in place to accommodate that growth.
He mentioned that the commission would like to divert some development and traffic north because it is concerned that the I-70 and Highway 63 connector will cause traffic issues when Aurora Organic Dairy starts operation off Paris Road and Waco Road in the near future.
“We believe that the 63/I-70 connector was poorly built, poorly designed and is not an ideal situation by any stretch of the imagination,” he said. “We’re hoping there could be some solutions brought forth by MoDOT or economic development that could maybe lighten the load on that intersection.”