MY WORD: Some points about the zoning decision that need to be heard

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By Bonnie Burks Gray

It’s hard to say park and scrap metal recycling plant in the same sentence. It would be harder yet to live with a recycling plant in the same block as a park. Even if we can’t have a voice at the 10 a.m., Sept. 20, Shelby County Fiscal Court meeting, we can have a presence and that might help our magistrates keep the facts for their decision in focus.
As our fiscal court prepares to make a decision on whether to approve a zone change of 10 acres on Kentucky Street from light industrial to heavy industrial, there are some findings of fact we hope each magistrate is weighing heavily:
Fact: Approval of such a zone change allows a metal recycling plant, Midwest Metals at 478 Kentucky St., to move next door to a county park, Red Orchard Park at 704 Kentucky St., and in a residential community. The distance from the park and the proposed scrap metal yard is a short 160 feet.
Fact: A metal recycling plant belongs in our industrial park, which has sites available now.
Fact: Such a zone change would not be compatible with the county’s Comprehensive Plan.
Fact: Kentucky Street and adjoining roads can not safely handle the additional truck traffic generated by a metal recycling plant. Don’t forget that the park’s primary visitors are school children traveling to and from its educational programming on buses.
Fact: The scrap metal plant’s elaborate site planning only commits it to have a “water quality device” with its retention basin. Stream pollution is inevitable with such a system.
Fact: Our park system in Shelby County has grown from the generous gifts of families giving their land for others to enjoy for generations to come. What message are we sending to potential benefactors in the future if we rezone adjacent land as heavy industrial?
Fact: Scrap metal recycling is noisy, no matter how you try to buffer it. It’s certainly the worse kind of neighbor for people hoping to enjoy a quiet stroll in a park.
Fact: Red Orchard Park visitors are on a hill that will overlook the recycling plant.
Fact: Triple S heard the concerns of citizens and came to a split decision that unfortunately required the vote of the chair who approved the zone change despite those concerns. Except for the people from Midwest Metals not one person endorsed the proposed location of the recycling plant.
Fact: With all due respect to our fiscal court members, it’s never a good idea for a body of elected officials to tell their constituents that their concerns will not be heard in a public meeting. It is also a concern when those officials have decided to rely solely on the facts they glean from an agency that has already ruled against the best interest of the community. It would be better for the court to at least allow representatives from the park’s board, area residents and advocacy groups to express concerns and to share any new information that could help the court in its decision making.
Residents have been reassured that just because the court will not have a public meeting it does not mean that magistrates are in agreement with the zoning commission’s recommendation. We trust that is true and is a good reason to give your magistrate a call and let him know your concerns.  

Bonnie Burks Gray lives in Shelby County.