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Clarksville greenlights rezoning for industrial warehouse park

 A rendering of a driver in their vehicle along a road outside of a proposed industrial park.
Town of Clarksville
Some residents and town officials in neighboring Sellersburg say they are opposed to the warehouse project.

A Southern Indiana developer is moving forward with plans to build an industrial warehouse park at the northern edge of Clarksville. Some residents and leaders in neighboring Sellersburg say they don’t welcome the project.

The Clarksville Town Council has approved a request to rezone roughly 140 acres of wooded land along Interstate 65, Appleleaf Lane and Silver Creek from residential to industrial. Members voted 4-3 in favor of the change earlier this week.

Development plans include five warehouses totaling 1.12 million square feet on the property.

Prior to the vote, the Clarksville Plan Commission sent the plan to the council without a recommendation in favor or against the rezoning.

Those who support the project say it’s a good use of land for space that has sat undeveloped for decades. But some residents say they’re worried it will hurt their property values and quality of life.

Vicki Allen, who lives on the nearby Equestrian Drive, said during public comment at the meeting she and her neighbors do not want to see an industrial development so close to their homes on land that’s long been greenspace.

“Never in our wildest dreams did we think there was going to be anything built such as this,” she said. “Single family homes? Apartments? Yes. But not like this.”

Bill Knies lives on Appleleaf Lane, across the road from the proposed project. He said he’s worried about increased traffic and potential flooding the development could bring. He also doesn’t want to lose the charm he said the neighborhood currently has.

“We’ve lived there a long time and we hate to see it,” he told LPM News. “It's a country lane, and it won't be anymore. It's a beautiful area [with] a lot of wildlife.”

According to a study presented at the meeting, traffic is expected to double over the next two decades due to the development.

Development plans include efforts to minimize impact to neighboring residents, including preserving 46 acres of mature trees which will help serve as a buffer.

Developers also plan to install features like culverts and bridges to preserve protected streams within the land, and install bat boxes to protect the animals’ habitat.

According to the developers’ presentation, the property has been vacant for over 50 years, providing no jobs or tax revenue. But “the proposed use will contribute to a resilient economy for Clarksville by providing quality assets that produce local jobs and tax income,” it reads.

Developers estimate the industrial park will add 432 new direct jobs to the area, and generate nearly $800,000 in direct and indirect total new annual income tax revenue.

They say there is already a mix of zoning designations in the area — including residential, commercial and industrial. The Clark Regional Airport is also nearby.

“Because this is not introducing a new use to the area, it is not anticipated that the property values will be negatively impacted,” according to the presentation.

Clarksville Town Council member A.D. Stonecipher represents District 5, where the development is planned. He said though he appreciates the developer working to mitigate impact to residents as well as address concerns posed by town staff, he had to vote against the rezoning.

“At the end of the day, I still voted ‘nay’ as did a couple of my colleagues, basically based on that particular question: Is it the best use of the land?” he said. “And I would have liked to see more traffic data as well before … for me to have given an approval.”

Council President Ryan Ramsey said it was a tough decision but thinks the industrial park is a good use for the land.

“That property had sat there for over five decades, undeveloped, and the majority of it butts up to Interstate 65,” he said. “I can't imagine going in there and building a residential setting, and that being appealing to people to want to move there. So I do think it was the best use for the property.”

Sellersburg Town Manager Charlie Smith said the project would have negative impacts on residents and the town’s own goals for redevelopment. Appleleaf Lane, which is partially in Sellersburg’s jurisdiction, connects to State Road 60 near I-65.

“The current council put forth a lot of effort to raise the bar in our community for future development and future investment in the town of Sellersburg,” he said during public comment. “We’re not a truck stop community, we don’t want to be a truck stop community.

“Unfortunately this project really doesn't fit with the town of Sellersburg and what our vision is. .. there's plenty of other industrial areas that we as a region need to keep in mind when we start looking at these things.”

Smith told LPM News Sellersburg officials will consider next steps, which could include imposing restrictions like height and weight limits for the roadway, to protect the residents and infrastructure. He said the town wasn’t involved with the traffic study.

He added it’s important for Sellersburg and Clarksville leaders to continue to have a good partnership.

“While this thing is not a positive outcome for either community, in the long run, I think it's also important that we don't get hung up on one thing,” he said. “Because tomorrow, there's going to be something else that we still need to be able to come to the table on and work on together.”

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec Inc. and the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.