About 217 acres of land near Edinburgh could be rezoned to create the only shovel-ready industrial site with rail access available in Bartholomew County.
Economic development officials and a local real estate agent trying to sell the land hope rezoning the acreage as industrial will attract a buyer who could bring jobs to the county.
The parcel is at the northeast corner of U.S. 31 and County Road 800N in German Township, just south of the Edinburgh town limits. The acreage is just north of the Interstate 65 interchange at Taylorsville.
Owned by Florida-based Meadow Lawn Farms, the parcel has been on the market for 10 years, said Mark Pratt, with Breeden Realtors, who is working to sell the property.
There have been companies interested in the site, he said, but site selection is a highly competitive process.
Jason Hester, executive director of the Columbus Economic Development Board, said prospective buyers look for a reason to cross a site off their list.
The current zoning has been a reason, he said, because, while it allows for industrial use, it gives the Edinburgh/Bartholomew/Columbus Joint District Plan Commission, a 10-member board that governs planning and zoning in the
2.5 square miles surrounding the Edinburgh Premium Outlets mall, full discretion over any proposed site plans.
Prospective buyers want to have as clear a path from purchase to construction as possible, Pratt said, which resulted in the rezoning request.
If rezoning the property as industrial receives final approval, a buyer with an industrial use for the property would not have to take site plans before the commission for approval, according to Jeff Bergman, the city and county planning director.
The rezoning would eliminate what prospective buyers see as a certain level of uncertainty and improve the chances of the property selling, Hester said.
However, some neighbors say eliminating plan commission approval of any site plan isn’t a good idea.
Jesse Deloach, who lives on U.S. 31 just west of the site, questioned whether that lack of oversight could allow for a development that might harm neighboring properties in some way.
And David Lee, whose brother and mother live on West County Road 800N less than a mile from the property, is concerned that industrial development might lower property values.
“Nobody wants to buy a home across from a factory,” Lee said.
Commission members said they understand the need to have a balance between offering protection to neighbors and making the site attractive to prospective buyers.
Commission members agreed with the planning department’s request to attach a condition to its decision on Wednesday.
That condition is that any areas of outdoor storage, loading and truck docks must be completely screened from the view of the residential properties west of U.S. 31 and traffic on the highway by use of an artificial ridge with landscaping.
The commission voted 8-0 Wednesday to recommend approval for the rezoning, which now goes before a three-member board made up of representatives from Edinburgh, Columbus and the county for final consideration.
The council now must meet within 20 days to hear the request and make a final decision, Bergman said.