Ensinger to stay in North Strabane

Natalie Reid Miller
Observer Reporter

There’s been no word since March on ongoing negotiations between South Strabane Township and developers of a proposed mixed-use project supporters claim would bring in more than $400,000 in annual taxes upon complete build-out – until now.

Ensinger Inc., the cornerstone of a planned mixed-use development near Tanger Outlets in South Strabane, plans to remain in its current North Strabane headquarters.

Ensinger submitted a site plan for an addition to its facility at 365 Meadowlands Boulevard that was recommended for approval by the township’s planning commission. Supervisors are scheduled to vote on the site plan at their Thursday meeting.

“I foresee no objections,” said North Strabane Township Manager Frank Siffrinn. “They’ve been an absolutely great neighbor, and our business relationship has been nothing short of excellent.”

Siffrinn said the plastic fabrication company is growing rapidly and plans to build a new 214,000-square-foot facility near its current building.

William R. Matthews III, Ensinger vice president of administration, said in an email Friday North Strabane has been a valued partner for the past 30 years.

“When Ensinger needed to consider alternative sites for our next 30 years and beyond, the new location in Meadowlands Park became Ensinger’s preferred location. Our current design for the new facility reflects the development plans we have been working on over the last several years and we anticipate the project will be underway in early fall. In the near term, Ensinger’s current facility on Meadowlands Boulevard will be expanded to allow for additional manufacturing capacity while the new facility is under development. Expansion of the existing facility should be completed before year end,” Matthews said. “Ensinger has enjoyed stable growth in both employment and production over the last 30 years and we expect the same to be true going forward, at home in North Strabane Township.”

Ensinger entered into negotiations with Chapman Properties about two years ago on a plan to move its North American headquarters from North Strabane to a 158-acre property in South Strabane, owned by Chapman.

The plans called for a $40 million complex to be developed on 30 acres of C-3 commercially zoned land. Chapman successfully petitioned South Strabane supervisors to add light manufacturing to C-3 commercial districts in 2015 in order to clear the way for Ensinger.

After Ensinger, the master plan for the entire development called for construction of offices, retail space, hotels and restaurants.

Supervisors previously approved Chapman’s conditional-use application for Ensinger, but denied the master plan. Chapman maintained because of a township ordinance prohibiting more than four parcels on a private road, Tanger Boulevard had to be made public in order to proceed with the Ensinger move.

Supervisors would not accede to that request.

Chapman offered the township complete reimbursement of maintenance costs of the road through the end of 2026; the cost to resurface it after Ensinger’s construction was complete; $160,000 for the purchase of a truck with snow-plowing capabilities; and donation of a one-acre parcel to the nearby Strabane Manor homeowners association for development of an outdoor recreation area.

At the Feb. 28 meeting, supervisors directed solicitor Dennis Makel to enter into negotiations with the developer after Steve Thomas, chairman and chief executive officer of Chapman Properties, said Ensinger would select a different location if the master plan was not approved.

Both sides have remained silent, citing an ongoing land-use appeal filed by Chapman in Washington County Court in October.

On Thursday, though, Chapman president and chief operating officer Tony Rosenberger said in an email he applauds North Strabane for its support of Ensinger.

“Although we feel that South Strabane Township was very unfair in its judgment, we wish nothing but the best to Ensinger, its parent company and especially the Washington County employees that worked so hard in keeping the company local. This is a huge win for North Strabane township, the area and the economy of Washington County,” he said. “The appeal process for situations like this is not quick or easy. We feel we will come out on the top side of that appeal. It’s sad, but the people of South Strabane unknowingly were the victims of the supervisors’ decision. Chapman will continue to work diligently at making the most out of this setback, and, although we do not have immediate plans or users for the site, we anticipate positive long-term results on our 160-acre South Strabane Township site.”

Brandon Stanick, manager of South Strabane, said he wasn’t aware of Ensinger’s decision to remain in North Strabane.