By BRADEN LAMMERS
JEFFERSONVILLE — The River Ridge Development Authority has moved forward on two potential manufacturing sites for the commerce center.
The authority board last week approved resolutions that will help prepare the sites, or the area around the sites, being referred to as “Project Maverick” and “Blue Beacon.”
River Ridge Executive Director Jerry Acy said he could not comment on who may move into either site, but did say each site would be a production facility owned by the business operator.
Each site totals about 25 acres. One is located in Charlestown near the Clark County 4-H Fairgrounds and Clark County Solid Waste District headquarters.
River Ridge Planning and Development Manager Tom Vittitow presented a request to allow for site clearing on the “Blue Beacon” project. The contract approved totaled a not-to-exceed amount of $160,000 to clear the trees on the parcel.
It is anticipated the contract will be bid Tuesday, in order to meet a Indiana Department of Natural Resources deadline that requires tree clearing to be complete by April 1.
The state’s DNR agency prohibits tree clearing during the area’s warmer months because the work could interfere with gray bat habitats.
Despite moving forward on the site, Acy said an official deal on the parcel is not imminent.
“That’s a confidential project we’ve been working on for some time,” Acy said. “We’re still early on in the negotiations.”
Once completed, the site will be a marketable site in Charlestown that is also served by rail.
A second potential land deal discussed was “Project Maverick,” a 25-acre parcel of land located behind the Amazon.com, Inc. fulfillment center.
Acy said River Ridge is in the final stages of negotiating the sale of the site, which would also become a production facility owned and operated by the potential purchaser. He added the building would be constructed off of Trey Street and would eventually total 400,000 square feet to be built in phases.
Road improvements on Avenue J — which provides access to the Project Maverick site — are scheduled to move forward to help prepare the site for development.
“The engineering work has started on Avenue J ... . Surveying is scheduled to start next week and in 60 days they’ll have that turned around so we can get the project bid and the road built by the end of this year,” said River Ridge Engineer Marc Hildenbrand.
A decision to move forward on road maintenance for another road in River Ridge Commerce Center did not move along as smoothly.
Maintenance on Paul Garrett Avenue, formerly Waterline Road, was discussed to determine who should pave it — at an estimated cost of $225,000 — and ultimately take over regular maintenance of the road.
“My personal thinking is that River Ridge should be responsible for the routine maintenance of the road,” Acy said.
While no board members offered an outright objection to paving or taking over maintenance of the road, the way in which the resolution to approve the paving work came before the board was questioned.
“Our long-standing expectation is that any resolution coming before this board be presented to us in board packet ... preceeding the meeting,” said Development Authority Board President Mark Robinson.
Robinson explained that while he did not necessarily object to the resolution, he would not vote to approve it because he had not had adequate time to review the proposal. He also offered that he did not want to take a vote because he told Board Member Ned Pfau, who was not in attendance, that the vote would not take place.
But Board Member Kim Matthews, who introduced the resolution was upset because of a promise he made to the Utica Town Council, which attended Tuesday’s meeting, that River Ridge would take over the maintenance of the road.
The remaining board members agreed to move forward on patching a pothole in the road and agreed to table a decision on paving and taking maintenance control over the road until their next meeting.
The vote to table to resolution was 3-1, with Matthews voting against.
Work on a third site in River Ridge Commerce Center was granted several exceptions to its development and will likely break ground in the coming weeks.
Lee Wilburn, President of Crossdock Development, said the groundbreaking on a building at 800 Patrol Road could commence as early as this week.
The development plans for the site were approved by Jeffersonville’s Planning and Zoning Commission in late-January and by River Ridge Tuesday.
Wilburn said the planned development will be constructed in two phases and once completed will total 666,280 square feet.
In addition, he said a deal is imminent on the building next door at 700 Patrol Road, often referred to as the Census Building.
Wilburn said Crossdock is in final negotiations between two tenants to lease the building.