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Rezoning request would be key piece of $5M road bond project

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By The Staff

SHEPHERDSVILLE - A project that could possibly lead to hundreds and even thousands of new jobs has cleared the first hurdle.A request by Browning Industries to rezone 185 acres from Agricultural to IL Light Industrial was given a favorable recommendation by the Bullitt Count Joint Planning Commission.There was little opposition to the plan on property just west of the CSX Railroad starting near Beech Grove Road south to near Forest Hill Road.The proposal would tie into the the $5 million bond issue the Shepherdsville City Council recently approved to find another access point to motorists on Beech Grove Road.This would be the Indianapolis-based company’s first venture into Kentucky. Starting in 1977 as an investment company dealing in real estate, Browning was mainly involved in constructing office buildings in Indiana.Since the 1990s, the company has become heavily involved in the distribution and warehouse business with customers such as Amazon.com, J.C. Penney and Subaru.Terry Hebert, director of pre-development for Browning Industries, said the company liked the Louisville market and was looking for property close to Interstate 65 and the airport. Also, the property is flat, which is important in the development business.In preliminary plans, Hebert said the five buildings could have over 2.5 million square feet under roof.Phil Charmoli, a representative of Commercial Kentucky Inc., said Bullitt County is a hot area.First involved in the Cedar Grove Business Park and in other properties since, Charmoli said he was not surprised with the interest in Bullitt County.“Shepherdsville and Bullitt County has been a hot spot for developers,” said Charmoli. “The momentum is with Bullitt County.”He said the project has taken a long time and has involved working with city and county officials, as well as CSX and the state Department of Transportation.Eric Senn, an engineer with Land Design and Development, said all the needed tracts are under contract for purchase if the rezoning is approved by the Shepherdsville City Council.Sitting in a flood area, Senn said there would need to be fill brought to the property. Some of the fill could come from detention basins needed to retain the surface water created by the buildings and asphalt.The transportation cabinet will allow two entrances on Highway 61 -- one near the location of Kentucky Tank and another at the current road servicing the detention center, county road department and the Bullitt County Stockyards.With the assistance of the city’s bond issue, Senn said an overpass would be needed for the railroad crossing.The city has retained QK4 to work up a transportation plan for the area and no particular point has been determined on where it would connect with Beech Grove Road.Senn said he understood that some of the land would have to be filled by nearly 20 feet and the ground floor level of the buildings would be 452 feet, six feet above the flood elevation.In looking at possible uses for the buildings and at possible employment numbers, Charmoli said it was too early to tell as no tenants have been signed for any of the five buildings.Looking at past trends, Charmoli said the area is prime for logistics and warehouse distribution, as well as some light manufacturing.In terms of employees, a general rule is one employee per 1,000 square feet. If you had 2 million square feet, you could have 2,000 employees.“We don’t know who’s coming,” said Charmoli.From a legal standpoint, attorney Eric Farris said the property is not suitable for farming and there had been many changes in the area, including the Cedar Grove Road connector.Considering the size of the request, the questions were minimal.Commissioner Thomas Givhan inquired about exterior lighting and how it would affect nearby residents.Hebert said directional lighting is on the buildings and not the public. He said the company was very conscious about light pollution.Don Becker, who is one of the property owners selling to Browning, said the existing woods should provide a buffer for some of the residents.Nellie Becker said it was not a decision property owners took lightly.“We did not take this lightly,” said Becker.She said looking at the proposal from the community’s standpoint and the number of jobs that could be created made is attractive.Negotiations had been going on for over a year.E.B. Gillenwaters, who owns property on Cundiff Lane, was only concerned as to if anyone knew where the road would end up on Beech Grove Road.Farris said the city is doing a study to determine the best route.Happy Cahoe, chairman of the Bullitt County Economic Development Authority, said it is a great opportunity for the city and for the county. He didn’t think the business park would have an impact on the surrounding residents.“We’ve been working for some time on this project,” said Cahoe. “It would be beneficial to the people of Shepherdsville and Bullitt County.”Commissioners unanimously gave a favorable recommendation. The only condition was that lighting be directional away from any residential property.