A ceramics manufacturer, which is moving into an existing building in the Midwest Industrial Park, wants to build over a retention basin.

The firm also is seeking 50 percent real estate tax abatement.

ARtech Technologies LLC is already moving its equipment into the building it purchased at the corner of Hoelzer Drive and Midwest Drive. The proposal to expand the building must be reviewed by the planning and zoning commission, but the project is complicated by the location of the retention basin where the owners want to build.

Business owners Thomas Frey and Victor Martinez appeared before the July 8 operations committee meeting to ask for city assistance.

Frey said his firm is bringing eight manufacturing jobs to the city, but needs to expand the existing building for its manufacturing process.

He and Martinez previously met with City Administrator Harold Selby and City Engineer Dan Rahn and discussed their needs in building space and tax relief, but their request was stalled during the transition to the new administration.

“We were offered 50 percent tax abatement and the possibility of closing all or part of the retention basin,” Martinez said. “It is possible that you don’t need the retention basin, or that you don’t need all of it.”

Martinez said the retention basin is located entirely on the lot they purchased.

“We need additional space and the basin occupies about one-third of the lot,” Martinez said. “One-third is the building and one-third is parking.”

The firm wants the city to look at calculations and see if the basin can be reduced or eliminated.

“The facility is still there,” Martinez said. “What can be done to facilitate expansion of the building for our requirements? It is on private property now. We want to figure out how we can do it.”

Mayor Jeff Palmore had asked the committee to review the firm’s needs, in reference to the retention basin, and offer a recommendation.

Alderman Steve Myers questioned why the request was coming before the operations committee and not going to planning and zoning.

Palmore said he sent the matter to committee because he thought the city needed to discuss the request in an open forum to hear exactly what the firm wanted and what the city might be willing to do.

“The city needs to see a plan from the firm detaining exactly what they want to do,” Palmore said.

“We want it (the retention basin) completely filled in,” Martinez said.

“I don’t think we can fill in the basin,” Walter Arnette said.

“Can we make it as small as possible so we can build over it?” Martinez asked. “Is it possible you don’t need that big a basin. It is now 18,000 square feet. Maybe you only need 4,000 square feet.”

City Engineer Dan Rahn said he believes that all the depressed area on the lot is not part of the original detention basin.

“I think it is in the 7,000-square-foot range,” Rahn said.

Alderman Ed Gass said it might be possible for the firm to build a box culvert over the detention basin and build over it

Bob Masson, who serves on the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), said some retention basins are covered.

“They need to know if the retention basin is large enough,” Masson said. “This is what they need. If it meets the code they can do it.”

City Attorney Matt Schroeder said there might be state stormwater issues involved.

“There is a visible easement,” Schroeder said. “That is where the stormwater goes for the entire development.”

Frey said he thinks his firm will be an asset to the city. ARtech is the only U.S. manufacturer of one of its products. The firm produces high temperature ceramics for Ameren, Granite Steel and Exxon.

Chairman Bates asked Rahn to continue to work with the firm to iron out details that would eventually go before the planning and zoning commission.