What we think: Handling of property is quite curious

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City of Shelbyville's ongoing annexation and zone change of a parcel brings a lot of questions.

We continue to find unusual the City of Shelbyville’s approach to a parcel of land it apparently wants within its boundaries.

We speak of the roughly 73 acres owned by Shelby County Magistrate Allen Ruble and his brother Tom on the southwest corner of Harrington Mill Road and Freedom’s Way, aka the Shelbyville Bypass.

The Shelbyville City Council agreed last summer to annex the property at the Rubles’ request and did so, then almost immediately asked to change its zoning from agriculture to light industrial even though officials said there were no immediate industries who wanted to build there.

Mayor Tom Hardesty explained simply that the city didn’t have enough industrial acreage and that this seemed be a perfect opportunity to add some.

But after the Triple S Planning Commission, under heavy pressure from residents on Harrington Mill, voted unanimously not to recommend the zone change, the council was given 90 days to consider whether to do what the commission suggested or to continue with its desired change.

Now, as of Monday, we are past the 90-day window, and the city’s only actions in that time were to have a workshop to hear how woefully inadequate their industrial parcels are – an arguable point – to reintroduce the annexation in a new ordinance that expanded its wording and definition and then to postpone the second reading of that ordinance – to make sure everything was correct? – until after its 90-day window had closed?
Are you with us? Is your curiosity?

Now, none of this is incorrect or illegal. It’s just curious, and we continue to wait for the answer to the pre-eminent question:

Why is the city spending so much time and effort on acreage that has no immediate value, will only cost it more to service and really brings question to its motives and conduct? A one-family tax-base expansion hardly seems worth the blood, sweat and tears.

Surely there is a reason better than the immediate opportunity to add to industrial land. Surely there is at least a small bird in one of the Rubles’ bushes if not in fact in their hand.

Shelby County has so many unfilled or vacated industrial properties, so why is another one needed now?Are officials afraid the Rubles will plop down a subdivision or something equally distasteful on those rolling fields? Why are city council meetings so devoid of discussion of this issue?

And what about the fact that the city in its new ordinance is annexing the adjoining railroad?
Railroads don’t play well with others. They believe their destiny is manifest and typically ignore the desires of the masses (SEE: Mixing Center, Joye’s Station).

On top of that, officials of RJ Corman, which maintains that stretch of track, said originally that they don’t know anything about the annexation and otherwise won’t respond to questions.

No matter, we have one simple goal: We don’t want the public to be railroaded.

We want residents to understand why the city wants the land and what it wants to do with it once it has it – and why. We want them to know if the city is planning to change the zoning after all.

Short of acceptable answers to all of these, we fear an ugly and confrontational conclusion.

Lengthy litigation looms, which brings us to another question:
Would going to court be money well spent on this matter – now?