Silsbee EDC director Kim Garrett pointed out the need for an area of the city to be zoned for industrial use last week. She later addressed the city council about the same thing.
Many years ago Silsbee developed into one of the leading small towns in East Texas for its industrial might.
Tommy Read wrote a full page story about Silsbee that was printed in the Houston Chronicle in 1949 which brought this fact home.
For years, the town was a center of industrial might. It housed Kirby Lumber Company, which later became Louisiana Pacific, and was the housing center for the development of East Texas Pulp and Paper, which changed names over the years many times and is now known as MeadWestvaco.
Once zoning became a factor, few areas were set aside for industrial use.
Part of the town was deemed to be too low. Part of the town did not have satisfactory rail availability. Much of the good prospective sites became housing projects.
During the past few years, the only industrial areas have been narrowed down to the the area north of the intersection of FM 418 and 92, the area along Business 96 where the pallet mills are located and also the area west of Silsbee where Arabian American Development Company (better known as South Hampton) is located.
Most of these areas are outside the city limits.
I have no problem with locating industrial areas outside the city limits.
I do realize that if our community is to have a positive future, something must be done to make sure some areas are available for development.
Most areas that are already inside the city limits are small. They might be all right for small industries but they are too small for any development of significance.
Rezoning can be very tough and sometimes it can be a politically unpopular choice. However City Attorney Harry Wright pointed out to the Silsbee City Council last Monday, that an easier way to possibly make real estate available for development was not to rezone the areas, but to change the rules about what kind of activities could take place in the areas as they were presently zoned.
I would recommend that the city fathers study the options closely and find a possible way to make property available for development.
The future of our city is hogtied without something being done.