Proposal pegs Parkway as spot for industrial use

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By Ben Carlson

A map proposing locations for industrial, commercial and residential construction will be discussed Monday night during a public hearing.
Developed by a group charged with updating the county’s comprehensive plan, the map includes a recommendation that the area near the intersection of the Bluegrass Parkway and US 127 be developed for a future industrial park.
Dal Harper, who is helping oversee the comprehensive plan update through Bluegrass Area Development District, cautioned that the map is preliminary and public input is being sought before it is finalized.
“This will not change anyone’s zoning,” he said. “The idea for this plan is to plan for the uses that the community needs and to steer people and the different kinds of uses to places that best accommodate that.”
The public hearing is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Anderson County Senior Citizens Center, 160 Township Square.
Harper said the updated plan is designed to serve as a guide to Anderson County’s growth for the next couple of decades, and that it’s important for people to let their voices be heard next Monday night.
“If you look out your window and see a field, it might not be there forever,” he said. “Someone could buy it and choose to develop it. That’s why we’d like everyone to have input to what might happen there.”
Creating an industrial park in Anderson County has been a hot topic for years, and the recommendation that the area near the Parkway be used is likely to spark some comments.
A portion of the east side just past the Parkway is owned by the Springate brothers, who have worked in the past to have a fueling station there declared in violation of zoning laws in hopes that the business might close and allow them to attract a hotel and other businesses.
A Cracker Barrel restaurant has also been discussed in that area, but never materialized.
The southwest corner is also part of the recommendation, but includes some agricultural zoning designations. Harper said if the map is adopted, those designations won’t automatically change. Instead, it would provide information should the planning and zoning board be approached in the future to have that designation switched to commercial, industrial or residential use.
Harper said that area around the Parkway is being recommended because of its easy access to a pair of four-lane highways and rail.
“It just makes sense,” he said. “It’s not the only place. There are lots of pockets of unused industrial zoned land, but we suggest supplanting that with this site.”
Other areas previously discussed for an industrial park include a portion of farmland off Highway 151 near Alton and the vacant land on US 127 Bypass across from Walmart.
The map would also establish what Harper called an “urban service boundary.”
“The city has its city limits,” he said. “Beyond that there is a larger area that either is or can be sewered very efficiently. We are trying to define that area of where sewers can be established in a cost-effective and meaningful way, and we’re hoping to steer residential and commercial development inside that boundary so we can efficiently provide services to residents.
Harper said the map also addresses existing conservation areas, as well as land use in the city.
“We’ve identified 55 properties in the central area of the city that have some historical designation,” he said.
“We want to highlight that feature and encourage further residential development downtown, as well as pedestrian business activities to improve the vibrancy of the downtown area.”
“We’re very interested in hearing what the community has to say about our work so far,” said update committee chairperson Bart Lewis. “Our most important goal is to produce a plan that reflects the needs of the community as a whole.”
As for Monday, Harper said the map was not yet complete, but said it would be loaded on Bluegrass ADD’s website — http://bgadd.org/anderson — by today (Wednesday).