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City moves forward with zoning plan off Hwy. 480

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30 words or less: Council denies request to delay zoning change and will proceed with a final vote on July 30. The fine could be $25,000 a day.

By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - Within the next three weeks, residents concerned over the fate of property in Heritage Hill Golf community might know what the future will bring.

The Shepherdsville City Council rejected a request by rezoning applicants Valley View Farm to delay consideration while agreements were put into place to calm some of the residential concerns.

Instead, the council voted 5-1 to hold the first reading of the rezoning request on July 23 and the final reading and public hearing at a special meeting on July 30.

At the public hearing, mayor Scott Ellis said no additional testimony would be allowed and only a limited number of speakers from each side would be given a few minutes to speak only on what had been presented during the June 14 planning commission hearing.

The planning commission gave an unfavorable recommendation on the request to rezone over 650 acres from Residential to Light Industrial.

In making his request for a delay Monday evening, attorney Eric Farris said there are still concerns from the residents that his client is trying to address.

The two major issues, according to Farris, were the usage of Valley View Drive by truck traffic and the future of the golf course.

“Our goal is to address the concerns of the people,” said Farris.

His client is hoping to secure a separate point of access to the 100 acres of land proposed for usage as light industrial. Crossdock Development has an option on that part of the property which would be used to build one or two distribution warehouses.

Farris said he understood the concerns of residents if Valley View was the main access. However, as of Monday night, he told councilmembers no deal had been reached to guarantee that separate entrance.

The other concern of residents, especially the 50 or so homes purchased in Heritage Hill, was the future of the golf course.

Farris said the plan has always been to keep the award-winning 18-hole course open.

He didn’t include the discussed bridge over Salt River as an option to the separate entrance. Farris said he knows the issue over Valley View, which is the feeder road to several residential streets to the east of Heritage Hill.

“It is our intent to prohibit truck traffic on Valley View Drive,” Farris said prior to the meeting.

“My client needs more time,” said Farris.

The other option is to withdraw the application before a vote is taken. However, that would also require another filing application fee, which is a costly measure due to the size of the request and the zoning classification requested.

While Farris felt the delay would be fair, councilmembers were not of the same opinion.

Garland “Corky” Miller, who lives in patio homes along Highway 480 in the development, said that he was not comfortable with any more delays.

He said residents opposing the rezoning have wanted to get some resolution for months, many of which have put off vacations so they could be present at the meetings.

Miller proposed the time schedule to get the matter decided by the end of July.

“The residents have waited long enough,” said councilmember Faith Portman.

Councilman Rob Flaherty said there had been other cases delayed during the zoning process. Of course, he said normally those wind up in court, as the parties working on agreements never seem to reach one.

The real question for the council, according to Flaherty, is whether it would be appropriate and the best use of the property to approve or to deny the request.

Resident Bill Duffy said the residents of the community have been dealing with this issue since February. He said several times there were hearings rescheduled, all under the guise of trying to work out concerns of the residents.

“They have not addressed our concerns,” said Duffy. “They just don’t understand. We strongly urge you to not allow any further delays.” 

Farris said under his proposed timetable, the first reading would be done at the Aug. 27 meeting with a special meeting quickly to follow for the final vote.

The council voted 5-1 to move forward with holding the first reading on July 23 and the public hearing and decision on July 30.

Councilman Larry Hatfield, who cast the lone vote against the motion, said the only reason he opposed such a decision was that other applicants had been allowed to seek a delay in the past.

City attorney Scott Wantland said the council had the sole responsibility in when to hold hearings. The council has 90 days from the June 14 zoning commission recommendation to make its decision. If no decision were made during that time period, the recommendation of the planners would stand.

The Heritage Hill golf and residential community started in 2004 with plans to have over 1,000 high-scale homes. By the time the infrastructure was completed and the golf course ready, the economy spiraled. While the golf course remains one of the best in the state, housing has been sluggish.

Private developers Ted Korfhage and Steve Plenge have said previously that the golf course was not intended and could not generate enough revenue to pay for the debt incurred in the entire development.

Despite a list of written guarantees to protect the Heritage Hill residents, concerns have been raised on what might happen if the rezoning is approved and warehouses built.

For residents in communities to the east, traffic along Valley View Drive has been the loudest concern. Other concerns voiced have included safety, pollution and noise.

Without the rezoning, developers have said they did not know the fate of any of the Heritage Hill property.