MY WORD: A response from Midwest Metals on zoning debate

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By Jeff Wence

As the applicant for the proposed rezoning of 478 Kentucky Street, we feel compelled to respond to the recent letters that have been printed regarding our project. Midwest Metals is a local, family-owned business, and we take great pride in being a good neighbor while providing a valuable service to the community.

As such, we would not propose anything that we believe would have a detrimental impact to our immediate neighbors or the residents of Shelby County as a whole. While we understand many of the reservations expressed by the opponents to the rezoning, we believe many important aspects of our proposal have been omitted.

The property is currently zoned I-1 Light Industrial, which permits as of right a wide array of industrial uses, including automobile assembly, car washes, fuel distribution, storage yards, sheet metal shops, and manufacturing facilities, among many other highly-intense and heavy-traffic-generating uses. One critical point that has escaped mention is that in 2006, prior to the dedication of Red Orchard Park, Shelby County Fiscal Court required the owner to rezone the property to I-1 in recognition of the industrial character of the area. At the same time, the owner was also required to impose a deed restriction on the property forever prohibiting it to be used for any residential purpose. Moreover, several other features of Midwest Metals’ proposal make it far superior to any other use, which may currently occupy the property as a matter of right:

1.      There was no opposition at the planning commission public hearing from residents in the immediate area.

2.      72 percent of the site will be preserved as open space.

3.      79 new trees will be planted on site.

4.      The proposed 380-foot setback and landscaped berms will enhance the scenic quality of Kentucky Avenue.

5.      Perimeter landscape areas will buffer the site from surrounding properties.

6.      Midwest Metals has agreed to restrict hours of operation as a means of minimizing any potential negative impacts to Red Orchard Park.

7.      The proposed use will generate no more traffic than the currently approved development of the property, and significantly less traffic than what could be generated by other currently permitted uses of the property.

8.      No manufacturing or major processing is proposed.

None of these items are required or ensured under any development that is currently permitted under the I-1 zoning classification. The Planning Commission and its staff certainly recognized this fact in making their recommendation of approval to the fiscal court.

It is our sincere hope that the residents of Shelby County will appreciate the positive aspects of our proposal. The recycling industry promotes environmental protection, resource conservation and sustainability by saving landfill capacity, reducing consumer waste, reducing air and water pollution, reducing water use and conserving energy.

Approving the proposed rezoning will not only guarantee an environmentally responsible and appropriate development of the property, but will also provide significant economic benefits to local businesses and residents alike.


Jeff Wence is president of Midwest Metals Corp. in Louisville