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July 7, 2014

Jeffersonville City Council’s vote kills $25 million development

Highway commercial rezoning denied for new concerns

JEFFERSONVILLE — A $25 million private investment on property that is one of the first sights of Jeffersonville now may be lost through a city council vote.

A rezoning ordinance for 17 parcels of land to highway commercial of the property failed with a 6-2 vote at Monday’s meeting. Coucilmen Zach Payne and Matt Owen voted to approve the ordinance. Councilman Bryan Glover was absent.

The rezoning was the only thing standing in the way for ownership of the property by White Reach Development LLC, which proposed a development at the corner of 10th and Spring streets visible from Interstate 65.

The Gateway Development would have hosted several restaurants and a Holiday Inn hotel.

White Reach owner Steve Reach said at the meeting that the Holiday Inn alone would have brought in $10 million in revenue to Jeffersonville each year.

The council has tabled the rezoning ordinance for several weeks, waiting for the sanitary sewer board’s approval of design plans for a portion of a combined sewer overflow interceptor.

The sewer board, which spent a few weeks reviewing plans, approved design for the portion of the pipe that will run underneath the development at Thursday’s meeting, thus clearing the path for the council’s rezoning approval.

But now, the majority of the concerned council members have changed their tune.

Councilman Ed Zastawny said he is concerned for multiple reasons other than the interceptor. One is that White Reach’s plan is a “downgrade” of the original vision for the property.

He said fast food restaurants, instead of sit-down restaurants, won’t encourage visitors to spend some time in the area and spend money elsewhere in the city.

“I don’t think with this development, you get that multiplication of dollars and increase in economy,” he said.

Another issue that the council discussed was traffic congestion in an area that has a five-point intersection. However, some council members didn’t think increased traffic should be a reason to deny the development.

“If we have traffic issues because so many people want to go there, I say that’s great,” Payne said.

City Attorney Les Merkley said that White Reach has the option to appeal the rezoning in court or seek its investment elsewhere, which would most likely mean in Clarksville.

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