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There was no close vote or public hemming and hawing in the most recent big decision made by the Triple S Planning Commission: Commissioners voted unanimously to deny the City of Shelbyville’s request to rezone 73 acres on the corner of Harrington Mill Road and Freedom’s Way from agriculture to light industrial.
Contrary to the recent protracted debate about the rezoning of the parcel near Red Orchard Park, Triple S reached this conclusion the correct way – by listening to the residents who would be affected by such a change and following a plan meticulously carved out of several meetings in 2006, when the zoning issue along the bypass was raised and a compromise agreement written into the county’s comprehensive plan.
Whether you would agree that the city needed to convert this land for possible industrial development and whether you agree that the land is not suitable for residential use – as the city has suggested – is irrelevant when you consider that the commission charged with reviewing requests against the comprehensive plan simply was drawing lines as it should.
Last summer, the City of Shelbyville curiously annexed this property – which does share a railroad boundary with the Midland Industrial Park – at the request of its owners, Shelby County Magistrate Allen Ruble and his brother, Tom.
Then just a few months later, the city asked Triple S to go against its plan and change the zoning to afford the city more acreage to employ in pursuing industry.
We’re all for such pursuits, but we have had several questions about this entire process, led by the most obvious: Why?
Why pick this plot of land for this zoning change so immediately after it was first available to the city and just a few months after the bypass opened?
Why was the Shelbyville City Council in apparent unanimity on advancing this issue?
And why now?
Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty is a forthright and adamant leader. He puts the city and its well being before anything other than his family. He has proven trustworthy not only to voters but observers, as well.
Mr. Hardesty said after Triple S voted that the city may well go ahead and make the zoning change – as is its legal right – because he said the members of the council were so firmly committed to it.
If the city council so chooses that action, we would caution its members with two simple words: Saddle Ridge.
They may want to study what happened when developer William Hysinger planned to convert farm land near Simpsonville into a large housing development. He had civic support and approval from Triple S, but he did not have the backing of the residents.
And, through a protracted legal process, the residents ultimately won. There is no Saddle Ridge.
We would suspect that if the City of Shelbyville pursues this zone change against the residents’ wishes, there could be expensive and divisive legal bloodletting.
Mr. Hardesty holds some key cards in this hand. If among them there is an ace that hasn’t been seen by the public – perhaps that proverbial fish on the line – then let him drop that card now – or drop the rezoning matter entirely.