Local News

Woodland Village is safe from proposed industrial development project

The residents of Woodland Village learned Wednesday that their mobile home park is in no danger from pending industrial development on the city’s east side.

Genesis Property Development, representing an as yet named business client, petitioned Shelbyville’s Common Council to annex into the city and rezone approximately 33 acres of farm land which includes the five-plus acres of Woodland Village.

After a long discussion period resulted in a unfavorable recommendation from the city’s Plan Commission on June 27, Genesis Property Development’s Ron Kelsay appeared before the council Wednesday night at City Hall asking for an amendment to the petition stating the Woodland Village acreage would not be rezoned for industrial development and thereby be protected from the project.

All of the 33 acres in question is currently zoned for agriculture use which means the mobile home park is not zoned correctly. Once the annexation is approved the land will be rezoned to General Industrial for Genesis’ project while the Woodland Village property will be rezoned to MP, the appropriate zoning for a mobile home park.

The annexation and the rezoning were not addressed at Wednesday’s meeting. Only the amendment to the petition that would exclude Woodland Village from the industrial rezone was approved.

Kelsay explained due to a non-disclosure agreement with the land owner, prior discussions with the residents of Woodland Village did not take place before the most recent Plan Commission meeting. He went on to explain that there never was an intent of displacing the residents, several are disabled and living on a fixed income.

“Because of a non-disclosure (agreement) we had with the seller in terms of the park and the residents, there was concern that if the deal didn’t go through, they didn’t want to upset tenants which seemed very reasonable,” said Kelsey. “So we didn’t have any discussions with the tenants or discuss it in general. I don’t think it’s an issue anymore.”

Genesis’ project is contingent on the property being annexed into the city for water and sewage use. With Woodland Village also coming into city limits, access to water and sewer would be offered to the residents.

With concern for the Woodland Village residents quelled, neighboring property owners then addressed their concerns for an industrial project in the area.

Questions arose over traffic issues, drainage, noise pollution and use of the site all together which Kelsay addressed after the meeting in a one-on-one interview with the Shelby County Post.

“There were a number of factors,” said Kelsey of why this particular land was being purchased for development. “One was size of the property. This particular property is larger than many others so that came into play.

“Probably the biggest reason I tried to explain in the Plan Commission meeting, which is really complex because it involves tax law, east of I-74 is located in an ‘Opportunity Zone’ which is designated by the federal government to incentivize investment in low income areas as identified by census tracts.”

Residents questioned why other property along E. State Road 44 such as the Greenleaf property or a nearby tract of land owned by the Redevelopment Commission or vacant property along Tom Hession Drive that is earmarked for industrial development could not be utilized.

“This particular company (Genesis’ client) invests in opportunity zones,” continued Kelsay. “So when you look at the map and overlay that against properties that are for sale, what zoning is available and those things, it really limits down what works.

“To be perfectly honest, people talk about the Greenleaf (property) and even the other parcel that the RDC owns, we would love to have those … I would be interested … we would buy them but they are not for sale. We’ve asked. You can’t buy what is not for sell.”

Kelsay maintains his client’s anonymity and details of the proposed project are imminent.

“Part of it is because a lot of that stuff is in development,” he said. “Some of it is that the project is still confidential. The company has not made an announcement yet. Often times the way these things work is it is confidential then once they get the big picture done, in this case annexation, then once you move to the next step when you have to submit the specific project, it still has to go back through tech review and the Plan Commission which is usually where you get the specific details of what is it? How big is it? What will it do? That usually comes later.”

Kelsay did not envision the future of Woodland Village taking center stage so soon when annexation was just the very first step of the deal.

“With regard to the mobile home park, when we put together a purchase agreement with the seller to buy the property, one of the things they asked was a non-disclosure with regard to the park because they had some concerns, which I understand and think are legitimate, if for some reason if this deal didn’t go through they didn’t want to upset the residents,” explained Kelsay. “They were concerned about the people that live there. They didn’t want them to move out. So we tried to honor that.

“More than anything, that probably just backfired at the Plan Commission because internally with our group not a lot of that had been discussed because it wasn’t on the radar. The first stage of what we are looking to do is going to be back in the farm field. We weren’t planning on doing anything in the area with the mobile home park. So the questions came up and not only were we in a non-disclosure not to talk about it but we hadn’t had much discussion internally because it wasn’t on the radar. This was something we would have dealt with some time down the road.”

Kelsay anticipates the petition’s request for annexation and rezoning to come before the next Common Council meeting which is set for 8:30 a.m. on July 18. He anticipates an announcement from his client to come within the next 30 days.

“I think they are getting close,” he said. “It’s possible it could be at the next meeting but we are on their schedule.”

In other board business Wednesday, the council approved a 20-year tax abatement with Meridian, who will install high speed internet fiber throughout Shelbyville.

The high speed fiber lines will be buried underground or run along poles where needed to bring access to every home and business in the city.

The project is slated to begin later this year, according to common council president Rob Nolley.

The council also approved moving money from its racino fund to pay for its portion of a transfer station being built that will eliminate the need to take recycling and waste to Morristown.

The transfer station is a joint project between the city, county and recycling district that will be “more economical” according to Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun.