News and Tribune

July 30, 2013

Potential business in Jeffersonville can’t recycle past

Zoning officials deny request that was approved in 2008

By BRADEN LAMMERS
braden.lammers@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — A businessman that was seeking to capitalize on the potential of industry around River Ridge was met with a denial on Tuesday — even after his same request was approved in 2008.

Red Ball Recycling, which was aiming to take advantage of River Ridge’s explosive growth and the connection of the east-end bridge, was granted a positive recommendation for a zoning change by the Jeffersonville Plan Commission, only to be denied by the Jeffersonville Board of Zoning Appeals just moments later.

Red Ball, being represented by attorney Jack Vissing, presented the development plan to locate a recycling business at 4016 Utica-Sellersburg Road. The plan would include a 4,800-square-foot-building and a storage yard on nearly eight acres.

The property is located off of Utica-Sellersburg Road, between Shungate Road and railroad tracks that run along Ind. 62.

“[Jeffersonville] approved the exact variance at the exact site in 2008,” Vissing said.

Owner of Red Ball Recycling Brian Donaghy, who at the time was working for another recycling company, filed the request with the city, but said that the deal fell through because of the downturn in the economy.

When he left his former employer and started his own business, Donaghy returned to the same property to locate his business.

“It felt like the logical choice,” he said.

The company would accept scrap metal, including vehicles, and then send the metal off to a different site to be recycled.

And if the company were allowed to locate at the property, it would be in an advantageous position to capitalize on nearby and expanding businesses and industry.

“They are also located in a strategic site,” Vissing said, citing access to the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville and River Ridge Commerce Center. “There are a number of sources that feed them.”

But one of the concerns voiced was of the traffic that would be generated in the area.

Charles Newton, owner of  B & J Trucking Service Inc., said he was concerned with the amount of trucks that already access the road.

“There are seven trucking companies there,” he said. “There’s probably 300 to 500 trucks that come back-and-forth there every day. If it’s not developed properly, we are going to have a major problem with traffic and safety.”

The request to rezone the site was approved 6-1, with Plan Commission Member and City Councilman Ed Zastawny voting against.

Several conditions applied to the approval including the board of zoning appeals approval for a use variance for recycling.

Vissing explained that a use variance was requested by the board of zoning appeals because the only place that is zoned for industrial recycling use is inside River Ridge.

But the request to the board of zoning appeals for the variance was denied by a vote of 2-3 with board of zoning appeals members Rita Flemming, Marty Chalfant and Josh Rodriquez voting against because they believed the change would adversely affect the surrounding property owners.



UNFAVORABLE SPOT ZONING

The most common reason for the plan commission to offer an unfavorable recommendation was cited as spot zoning — -where one property is zoned to fit a specific use in contrast to the surrounding use of the other properties.

Plan Commission Member Brent Roberts explained that the issue with spot zoning extends beyond the specific plans presented Tuesday night. If the rezoning is approved, the property can be resold or developed under any of the acceptable uses in the new zoning classification.

Roberts said his concern for some of the properties to be rezoned were “what it could be ultimately.”

Among the requests that were viewed as spot zoning were requests from: Sprigler Concrete Co. to rezone a lot on Coopers Lane where it would construct a contractor’s office on more than five acres; a home health business that is already in operation, but failed to request the zoning change on Eighth Street; and Industrial Air Centers Inc. which filed a request to rezone a portion of the adjacent property where the business is already located in order to expand the business. All of the requests were met with unfavorable recommendations for the zoning change and will be passed along to the Jeffersonville City Council for a vote.

One request was given a positive recommendation to rezone a property at 2004 Utica Pike from low density residential to low density multifamily residential. Kevin Guernsey, who plans to redevelop the property into a duplex, would be allowed to put four units in the existing property, but assured the plan commission board and the neighbors only two units, which would carry a high-end price tag, would be developed at the site.

“The fact is [the property] has been vacant for four years,” said Plan Commission Member and City Councilwoman Connie Sellers. “It doesn’t do the neighborhood any good to have a house that is falling apart. I just see this as a better option than letting it sit vacant.”