This could be your backyard

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By The Staff

Just another cemetery. Doesn't affect me. Wanna bet!

It does affect you! It affects your property value, your rural environment, and your Shelby County lifestyle. And here's why everyone in Shelby County should be concerned.

A few weeks ago, the Triple S Board of Adjustment and Appeals granted a Conditional Use Permit to the Louisville Cemetery Association to develop 40 acres of Shelby County farmland as a for-profit cemetery. By invoking the discretionary power of "conditional use" four (vote taken 4-1) Shelby County citizens have set a precedent for how land deemed as agriculture now can be developed. This decision endangers all agriculturally zoned land. Shelby County should seriously think about the long term effects this decision will have on our community.

The Louisville Cemetery Association, a family-owned private cemetery company, asked for the permit because their cemetery is running out of space in Louisville (located at 1339 Poplar Level Road), wants to expand their business (read 'make money') and buy cheap Shelby County land. Basically the Board of Adjustment and Appeals has agreed to trade prime farmland, beautiful horse country and a rural atmosphere for thousands of new cemetery plots and mausoleums in a county already saturated with unused grave sites. Who really profits? Shelby County citizens? I don't think so. We lose.

In the past, the Board has interpreted the term 'private' in the Shelby County Comprehensive Plan to allow for family and church cemeteries that continue the tradition of family and community. This about-face by the board, however, instead approves the development of an 11,000-plus plot cemetery that will be more like a high-density residential development oddly placed in the middle of pristine rural agricultural land.

Has this elected committee really thought through their decision? I was shocked to see how quickly this committee approved such a large project even after numerous residents voiced concern after concern. The voting board only asked a couple of questions! Has a thorough investigation of this company been done? Is this business fiscally sound enough to fulfill its commitment to Shelby County? Has anyone toured the Louisville Cemetery to see how it is maintained? Is it to standards that are acceptable to their neighbors or is it an eyesore with poorly maintained roads and littered landscape? Did the board question the Louisville Cemetery's 1986 court order lawsuit by the Kentucky Attorney General David Armstrong to clean up their desecrated cemetery?

The Comprehensive Plan specifically guards Shelby County agriculture by restraining development that forever harms "irreplaceable land resources." This land is irreplaceable as 40-acre cemeteries cannot be moved or demolished. And, it will become 'our' responsibility should the business be unable or unwilling to care for it.

What does Shelby County really gain from this development? I see only loss; loss of beautiful land, loss of a 50-acre horse farm that is no longer going to be built. I see the loss of assurance that each of us won't have a development go up in our backyards someday.

Shelby County, proud of its rural atmosphere and convenience to the city, is struggling with inevitable growth. Does the Saddlebred Capital of the World really want to sell its land because Jefferson County has run out of places to bury their dead?

Smart decisions need to be made now for the future of our county. If we preserve what we pride ourselves on and make responsible decisions now, we can only walk away winners. We have what everyone else wants. Are you willing to lose it?

Come to the next board meeting this Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008, at 7 p. m. in the Stratton Center. Stand up for Shelby County. It's important for all of us because this is where we call home!

Rebecca Murphy,