Highway 245 zoning request grows heated

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By The Staff

CLERMONT - Representatives of Bernheim Research Forest and Arboretum and the Jim Beam Distillery are excited about some of the changes proposed for the Highway 245 corridor near Interstate 65.

And they want to protect it from unsightly development.

But Leonard and Christopher Mattingly don’t feel their plans would hurt the area in the least.

And the Bullitt County Joint Planning Commission agreed - with conditions.

The Bullitt County Fiscal Court was asked to either deny the request or place more restrictions on the property.

The rezoning request would involve a 3.7-acre tract off Old Highway 245 just west of the Meadow Peak Subdivision. The father and son request was to rezone the property from Conservation and R-1 Residential to B-1 Highway Business.

Attorney Joseph Wantland said the request would bring the tract into compliance. It would be used to store vehicles for 3-4 days at a time before they are removed. There is no repair work done there.

The vehicles would not be seen from Highway 245 and there would be the required screening.

In support of the rezoning, Wantland said numerous other tracts have a B-1 use in the area and Leonard Mattingly’s property just down the street was rezoned in 1997.

However, surrounding property owners were not satisfied with the explanation.

Attorney Keith Brown, representing Jim Beam Brands, said his client wasn’t necessarily opposed to the rezoning but wanted to make sure the proper development was considered along the Highway 245 corridor.

“This is a big, important area for the community,” said Brown.

Beam is planning a $15 million visitor center on its property and there are plans for a community college at the Interstate 65 interchange. Also, the city of Shepherdsville has recently approved a plan to bring sewers to the area, which could also spark growth.

“It’s too big...to rush a decision,” Brown said in asking that the matter be tabled to give Wantland time to meet with area residents.

Brown, wishing to hand out materials to the commission, had to first get the body to allow its rules to be waived. The commission had a seven-day limit on submitting information to be considered during the meeting.

The attorney was also concerned about the potential uses in a B-1 zone.

Commissioner Russell Price said that if the company was so concerned, it should talk to the Mattinglys about buying the property.

Brown said his client was willing to talk with anyone.

The bigger picture, according to Brown, is the need to consider the affects the change could have on tourism in the area.

Attorney Monica Robinson, representing Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, said keeping the integrity of the area was important.

Sewers will help drive development but Robinson said it was important to remember the importance of tourism-related attractions, such as Bernheim.

With its mission to conserve areas, Robinson didn’t think the request was appropriate. And she was concerned that there is a boat in a ditch with a lot of tall grass that is visible from Highway 245.

If rezoned, she felt it would be a major change to the area.

Gary Taylor, who lives in Meadow Peak, opposed the rezoning because residential zoning surrounds the property.

“It’s not a proper lace,” said Taylor. “It’s simply not a place for a business at all.”

He said there are currently 10 cars on the property and at times that goes to 50. He can see the property from his home.

Jackie Griffith, another Meadow Peak resident, said there is a boat in the ditch and grass around it is probably 20 feet tall. She didn’t want to see her nice neighborhood damaged by the development.

While development will come, she said it should be done to keep the corridor beautiful and tourist-related.

Wantland said there have been cars stored on Leonard Mattingly’s property and there are no environmental issues. The property has been checked and EPA officials found nothing in the ground or the water.

Prior to the hearing, Wantland said no one from Beam or Bernheim had contacted his client to talk about the request. He said his clients don’t want to hurt anything or the Highway 245 corridor.

At the same time, he said there are storage units, a car lot and an industrial site all visible along Highway 245 at this time.

The commission voted unanimously to send a favorable recommendation to Bullitt Fiscal Court, which makes the final decision.

As part of the rezoning, the applicants would have to install a visual barrier to block the view on all four sides. Trees would be installed along Highway 245 and a slated fence would be covered by trees on the other three sides within 120 days of final approval.

On Tuesday, the battle moved to the fiscal court arena.

“The big boys are trying to tell the little guys what to do,” said Wantland of the opposition.

Wantland said his client would have no problem limiting the use of the property for the storage of vehicles, one of the requests of the opponents.

Brown asked if the court would consider a moratorium on any future zonings in the area as the county could look at creating a new zone to protect the Highway 245 corridor.

The attorney also asked that no heavy equipment be allowed on the property, if the rezoning is approved.

“There is a lot of potential in that highway,” said Brown.

Patrick Flynn said there is interest in the Meyer property across Highway 245 and that it has been cleaned up to some extent and would be turned into a tourist area if the land is purchased.

He added the 40 acres used for the fairgrounds could also be an economic opportunity.

Kristie Walls, executive director of the Bullitt County Chamber of Commerce, said the organization supports small businesses but also knows how much work has been done to improve beautification throughout the county.

The increase in tourism would increase the revenue stream for businesses in the county, said Walls.

Charlie Wright, who lives in Meadow Peak Subdivision, said he opposed the commercial development that is creeping eastbound on Highway 245.

The court members must decide within 90 days on the rezoning. The second reading and vote could be done at the June 16 meeting.

In other cases:

*Rezoning for a Ken Towery Auto Care facility in Mount Washington cleared the first hurdle in May.

The applicant, KAPPA 3-Highway 31E, LLC, received a favorable recommendation from the commission. The Mount Washington City Council will make the final decision.

Attorney Eric Farris, representing the applicant, said the facility would be at the northeast corner of Highway 44 East and the bypass in Mount Washington.

Due to the need to do auto repair work, the property must be rezoned from B-2 Central Business to B-1 Highway Business.

The company has 16 locations in the metro Louisville area.

The access to the business will be through the Eastbrooke shopping complex with entrances on Highway 44 and the bypass.

*After tabling the issue for a month, the commission recommended denial for a rezoning request on Windy Hill Road in Pioneer Village.

The request by David Gibson would be to rezone 1 acre from R-1 Residential to B-2 Central Business.

Commission attorney Rob Flaherty said that there would be no additional testimony presented, although the board could ask questions.

He said in a free-standing zone, there must be five acres in the application, unless it was B-1 when only three acres would be needed.

There was a text amendment in 1982 approved waiving the minimum acreage but Pioneer Village never voted to approve that measure.

Attorney John Wooldridge disagreed with the assessment. When Pioneer Village joined as a member of the joint planning commission in 1989, Wooldridge felt it adopted all the regulations and agreements already approved.

When the application was filed, Wooldridge said no one made any comments about the minimum acreage or whether the ALLTEL/Windstream building next door was commercial.

If there was a problem, Wooldridge said the applications should have never been accepted.

At the prior meeting, there was a question over deed restrictions on the property; however, Wooldridge said the only requirement was on the size of the home.

The commission voted 6-1-4 to send an unfavorable recommendation to the Pioneer Village City Commission, which will make the final decision.

*Stephen T. and Sarah K. Smith received a favorable recommendation to rezone 5 acres off Yorkshire Boulevard from Agricultural to R-4 Residential.

The property would be sold to a man who has a trailer on the property currently.

Bullitt Fiscal Court will make the final decision.

*John and Wanda Poteet requested subdivision plan approval for three lots off Apple Valley Way. However, with additional information needed, the request was tabled for a month.

There were some questions over road easements.

The total property is 43 acres. No new roads were to be built.

The next meeting of the Bullitt County Joint Planning Commission will be on Thursday, June 11, at 7 p.m. at the courthouse annex. The public is invited to attend.