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Warehouse plan gets OK from plan commission

Warehouse plan gets OK from plan commission
Warehouse plan gets OK from plan commission
Jim Stocks outlines a proposed warehouse near the Interstate 64 Lanesville interchange during Thursday’s Harrison County Plan Commission meeting. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]

A big box warehouse may be coming to the Lanesville area despite pleas from nearby landowners who voiced their concerns Thursday night to the Harrison County Plan Commission.

The proposed warehouse was the only docket item on the agenda, and nearly every available seat in the commissioners/council room of the government center was taken.

Jim Stocks explained to the nine-member commission plans to construct an approximate 280,000-square-foot warehouse for an undisclosed company at the intersection of Crandall-Lanesville Road and Peter J. Schickel Way north of the Lanesville exit of Interstate 64. The docket has been referred to as Project Pioneer.

Stocks called it an “exciting” project that, with a “cross dock” facility, would be the “first of its kind” in Indiana.

The developers have worked “heavily” with Kevin Russel, the county highway engineer, regarding traffic and Eric Wise, the county planner, regarding landscaping the perimeter of the property. To help alleviate traffic on Crandall-Lanesville Road, the site’s entrance allows for 12 semitractor- trailers to “stack” in waiting off the highway.

Stocks said the facility will create jobs and bring further development to the area. He added developers are not seeking any tax incentives, just an expansion of natural gas to the facility.

To plan commission Jim Mintner’s question about the number of employees, Stocks said there would be 216 on first shift and 132 on second.

Larry Ott, who chairs the plan commission and who lives in close proximity to the proposed site, asked if traffic signals had been considered at the intersection of Crandall-Lanesville Road with I-64. The answer was that a Level A facility, which this would be, doesn’t require that type of traffic study.

Ott later commented it seems like there would be a lot of vehicles rolling in and out of the facility at shift changes to which it was noted a turning lane is being added to Crandall-Lanesville Road.

Doug Sellers, an engineer who previously worked for a firm that helped with the study for the 700 acres around the interchange that has been zoned as the Lanesville Planned Employment Center since 2002, expressed concern that traffic to and from the facility could create delays for other motorists using the highway.

Brad Wiseman, who serves on the plan commission as the county council’s representative, said Harrison County has been preparing for years for this type of development.

“If (traffic) lights don’t go in now, it doesn’t mean they can’t be added later,” he said.

Sellers said he just doesn’t want to see the area become like Eastpoint Park Boulevard in Louisville.

“We should have contingencies in place,” Sellers said.

When Stocks confirmed to Miranda Edge, the county Extension officer who serves on the plan commission, that the facility will be similar to ones she is familiar with around Indianapolis, Edge said those are “very quiet” locations.

It was noted the Lanesville facility would include a sound wall, with the client wanting to be a good neighbor.

After about 30 minutes of questions by the plan commission, Ott asked for public comments.

Residents who live nearby were not impressed with the possibility of having a “first of its kind” facility as its neighbor.

Adam Schneider spoke first, representing himself as a neighboring property owner and others who have formed a neighborhood association, saying this development is “literally at the doorstep of our neighborhood.”

He prefaced his questions by saying he wasn’t there to oppose anything but asked wouldn’t it be better suited on the east side of Crandall-Lanesville Road where there are already two businesses?

Wise said the 700 acres the county had planned for this kind of development encompasses both sides of Crandall-Lanesville.

When Schneider asked if the building already has planned tenants, Wise reminded those in attendance that the plan commission’s responsibility was only land use and zoning.

“This seems very rushed to me,” Schneider said before relinquishing the podium to other concerned residents.

Shirley Longacre said she and her husband, Marvin, purchased property in the area 13 years ago as the “perfect location,” about 10 miles from Corydon and an equal distance from New Albany, “If this goes through, it will destroy our environment there. I’m not opposed to expansion … why not (build it in) Corydon? … ”

Russel, who was in attendance, said the county has worked for 25 years to be in a position for this type of development, which would help keep tax rates low and provide jobs.

Darrell Voelker, director of the Harrison County Economic Development Corp. and a Lanesville resident, said the proposed development, which would be a distribution center, probably happened faster than anyone expected. He added the tenant is not willing to provide its name yet due to competition.

Stocks, who said he understands the residents’ concerns, told the plan commission the property owners have done the necessary studies and will abide by the county ordinances.

Chris Jackson, one of the property owners, said the developers have gone “above and beyond” what’s required to protect the community and to be good neighbors.

Sellers said, “All in all, they’ve met pretty much everything we’ve asked them to meet.

Wiseman made a motion, seconded by Mintner, to approve the docket excluding the requirement for a berm on the north side of the property; instead, having the developers leave the existing vegetation, which creates more of a shield from that direction than a berm would.

The motion passed 8-0 with Ott abstaining.

“Whether you like it or not, the (PEC) was designed for just this kind of business,” Ott told the neighbors.