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Planning keeps ‘Gateway’ from hodgepodge

When Interstate 64 opened in the early 1970s, Harrison County officials were told they should capitalize on its two interchanges.
No one can argue that the 105 exit at Corydon hasn’t been developed. The only debate there is in how it has changed from a commercially barren intersection with S.R. 135 into a booming area of restaurants, hotels, shops and the Wal-Mart Supercenter.
Several large industries have located here since the opening of the Harrison County Industrial Park nearby.
But the interchange at the 113-mile marker — what Lanesville resident Don Hamblen calls the “Gateway to Harrison County” — has remained pretty much the same the last 28 years.
Oh, there have been discussions about developing the potential gold mine there. In fact, the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission rezoned land in the northeast quadrant of the interchange in May 2000.
In July of the same year, another group presented plans for developing the northwest quadrant.
Interest in developing something at the exit seemed to be picking up, but that momentum came to a halt that fall. Two months after requesting two planned unit developments (PUDs) and a zoning change, the Lexus Real Estate Group saw its plans for single-family dwellings, 192 apartments, mini-warehouses and a wastewater treatment plant dashed when the plan commission rejected the PUDs and made no recommendation on the zoning change request.
This pleased residents there who objected because they believed the plan would have adverse affects on their community. They mentioned increased school enrollment, traffic, noise and emergency protection.
While completing its “Findings of Fact,” the plan commission said the requests were “inconsistent” with the county’s land-use plan.
A subcommittee formed earlier in 2000 to study the interchange began to consider hiring a consulting firm to help in the process.
To help protect themselves from potential lawsuits — and to ensure nothing was done to property that could hamper future plans — the plan commission imposed a moratorium on rezoning requests. The initial moratorium, which did not prohibit development that was compatible with existing zoning, went into effect in March 2001. It expired Dec. 31, but the plan commission voted this month to extend it through March 20. (It can be lifted sooner if the plan commission so desires.)
The moratorium covers a 10-square-mile radius, which is bounded to the north by S.R. 64, Angel Road Run to the west, Floyd County to the east, and Lazy Creek and Ponderosa roads to the south.
Birch Trautwein & Mims Inc. in Louisville was selected from five firms to complete a study of the interchange and make recommendations “to provide the citizens of Harrison County an opportunity to establish a vision for the future development of property in and around the Lanesville interchange and to identify the actions necessary to ensure that such development will occur in an orderly, well-designed manner with minimal expense to the taxpayer.”
The plan commission should be commended — for several reasons — for what’s been done, including spending money for the in-depth study.
First, for having the foresight to develop a well-defined plan rather than approve or deny requests willy-nilly, possibly creating another Landmark Avenue nightmare or a repeat of Clarksville’s S.R. 131 fiasco.
Second, for selecting a consulting firm that has a vested interest in Harrison County. Engineer Phil Bills is a former Corydon resident who served many years on the plan commission. Doug Sellers, who worked on the study, lives in the Elizabeth area.
Third, for providing the public the opportunity to have input into the proposal. Three public meetings (Aug. 16, Oct. 18 and Jan. 10) were held to receive comments and to keep the public abreast of the study. (The study is also available on the Internet at www.netpointe.com/users/harrison/planman)
Now, the plan commission, as well as the county commissioners, need to adopt the consulting firm’s recommendations and run with them. Progress, which includes development, is a good thing when done with careful, detailed planning in mind.

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