Commissioners vote to re-zone property near I-64 and Highway 150 PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 15 March 2017 06:24

By Josh Suiter
Special Correspondent

By a vote of 2-1, the Floyd County Commissioners went against the recommendation of the County Planning Commission concerning the rezoning of two parcels of land from parks and recreation and residential to highway service during their March 7 meeting.

Commissioner John Schellenberger, who is also on the planning commission, voted against it.

The property sits near the intersection of Interstate 64 and Highway 150 and is located in the Highlander Point Business District. It is owned by the Didelot family. One parcel is 7.86 acres in a residential zone and the other is 22 acres on a parks and recreation zone.

John Kraft, an attorney with Young, Lind, Endris & Kraft who is representing the Didelot family, said “We presented everything we needed to present last meeting. This in respect to a zoning change. There are two proposed ordinances for your review. This matter was tabled at the last meeting for a traffic study.”

“Prior to the traffic study being completed, there was entered into the record (an email) advising that INDOT continues to monitor that situation and they will make access available in the event commercial is done. That was done in an email that was presented to you at the last meeting. The idea was that the commissioners met with INDOT. INDOT conducted an evaluation of it and as a result we have a 1,000 word report in front of you. That 1,000 word is a picture.”

Kraft said if approved the Planning Commission would create a development plan and reminded the commissioners their vote “is a rezoning. It is not approving a development plan, it is not a matter of approving a traffic study, it is not a matter of looking at this as anything other than a land use.”

Schellenberger expressed concern over safety. “When I look at the ballot that the planning commission prepared. Number 2 (on the ballot), rezoning of the property is or is not consistent with current conditions and the character of the current structures and uses in the area because and we circled that the property is not consistent. The existing infrastructure will not support the change.”

Commissioner Billy Stewart said “We went to the INDOT meeting and our main concern was traffic. INDOT made a plan to deal with the traffic.”

Stewart said INDOT won’t have funding until 2023. “INDOT can’t even guarantee they can fund it. If the developer would want to do something before then, they would have to pay for it themselves. The J turn is estimated at $500,000. The egress would be $700,000. So, the developer would have to have over $1 million if they want to do this sooner than 2023.”

“INDOT answered those questions. We are required by law to only look at those issues that the planning commission brings up. Whether I personally like it or don’t like it, it doesn’t matter. If I was the king of Floyd County, I would do things differently but I am not the king. I am required to follow the law” Stewart added.

Schellenberger said the rezoning “is not something that should be taken casually. There is a higher standard because it was zoned a park and recreation.”

Kraft said although it was zoned as parks and recreation it was a driving range and was a commercial business. But Schellenberger said back when it was zoned, all golf courses were zoned as parks and recreation.

The commissioners passed both changes without allowing the large crowd of residents to speak. One resident, Pam Leonard, even asked “Excuse me, is the public allowed to speak tonight.”

Commissioner President Mark Seabrook said “Not yet. The public speaks at the end of the meeting.”

Leonard said “There has been new information Mr. Kraft presented. I feel the public should be allowed to speak before you vote.”

Rick Fox, the commissioners’ attorney said, “The commissioners make the decision as to when the public is able to comment.”

Leonard said “There are a significant number of people here who are not happy about this and will continue to be unhappy about this if we are unable to speak.”

But Seabrook remained firm. “All I can tell you ma’am is that I have followed the procedures of our agenda and whether the ordinance was talked about before or not is certainly not any effort on our part to throw something around the corner on you all. It is what it is.”

“The issue this evening is not about the traffic and the concerns that you have. The issue this evening is about a change in the zoning. That is all. It has been made very clear and it is in black and white. You can pick that up at the commissioners’ office. It says very clearly that this must go back to the planning commission and they have to ok any traffic changes,” Seabrook added.

“There is an order of government and order of government is that all we did tonight was change the zoning. Period. We didn’t say there was going to be s-turns, we didn’t say there was going to be j-turns. You will have a chance to speak. If you wanted to speak about the zoning tonight, you could have,” he added.

Lucas Mcculloch, who can see the re-zoned property from his own, said “The whole reason we are here, sir, is because of the zoning. We don’t a Walmart in our backyard. Me and my wife just spent 2 years buying and working on a house.”

His wife, Alex, said “This isn’t a traffic issue.”

Lucas said “You just allowed anyone with enough money that they could build a triple x theater and my kids would be staring at it.” But Seabrook said “not without the permission of the planning commission.”

But Alex didn’t agree. “They said that at the first meeting. They were scared and that is why they voted on it unfavorable. They were scared if they sent it to favorable to you all that they were scared that there is a chance that any developer could say it was zoned commercial and we can put anything we want here. They said that at that meeting and they said it unfavorable.”

Louis Meyer, who also lives near the property, said his issue is property value. “We were completely walked over in in past meetings about property values.”

Meyer said in a previous meeting Kraft had a Louisville firm come over and “a gentleman stated that it would make the property worth approximately $1000 an acre. Then Mr. Schellenberger asked what about the adjacent property or the nearby properties this fellow said we we were commissioned to study those properties…But Schelleneberger asked the man “what he thought it would do to those properties and he stammered for a minute and then said they will probably appreciate in value. I don’t believe that and I don’t know anyone who lives by there that believes that. We didn’t get a chance to speak.

Meyer said a property appraiser told him “You can count on a 10% devaluation of the property being adjacent to a commercial development”

Alex Mcculloch said in an interview she never received a notice in the mail about the re-zoning. They saw a sign discussing it. “My concern is it has been zoned as highway service and that leaves it up to pretty much anything and what the community wants to know is what is going to go there. For them to zone it as highway service, there are opening it up to whatever. These are our homes. We don’t want anything going next to them unless we know what is going in there.”

Lucas Mculloch said “we have worked hard to make this home and now they are rezoning it and we don’t know what is going to go in there.”

During the public comment period, Leonard, a who lives in nearby Spring Farm Subdivision, said “We chose Floyds Knobs over all other areas because of its beauty, its charm, its small town feel and the amenities provided by Highlander Point and the quick access to New Albany and Louisville.”

“I would like to see the special sense of space spoken about in the zoning ordinance for the Gateway Overlay District to be taken seriously and to limit commercial development. So that it remains one of beauty and greenery. To have that intersection turn into congestion and commercial unattractiveness, makes me sick inside” she added.

Later in the meeting, Stewart suggested going forward the commissioners let the public speak about issues before they are voted on.

“I always like the idea of the public having a chance to speak on a topic before we would vote on it. I would like my fellow commissioners to consider that and to change the procedures of our meeting going farther to accommodate that.”

Schellenberger said “It is our job to listen to the people. They all have sound arguments.”