Kalamazoo votes to extend tax exemption for packaging plant

Kalamazoo County

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo city commissioners voted at their Monday meeting to extend a tax exemption to a local plant that has faced criticism for air quality problems.

Commissioners agreed to extend the industrial facilities tax exemption for Graphic Packaging International from five years to one year with a community benefits agreement. This will take place for the tax year 2022.

When initially approved a year ago, the incentives came with conditions that GPI address emissions and odor concerns.

Neighbors say the plant on N. Pitcher Street in the Northside area has long emitted an unpleasant smell and they believe pollution has caused health problems like asthma and COPD. The state environmental agency says it has gotten 80 odor complaints about the plant since 2010 and issued eight odor violations since 2012, but never issued a fine. The state says it is working with GPI to address air quality.

GPI says the extension would allow it to add a new facility for recycling paperboard, which it says would bring 1,000 jobs to the city during the two years of construction.

The city commission had not yet taken up the extension as of about 10 p.m. Monday because public comment stretched for well over two hours. Most of the comments from the public about GPI opposed the extension.

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