ONE THOUSAND ACRE INDUSTRIAL PARK PROPOSED FOR NORTHERN SUMNER COUNTY
Here’s the updated MAP. See if your property/neighborhood might be affected.
In 2014, County Executive Anthony Holt requested -and our Commissioners voted for – 20 million dollars of taxpayer money for undisclosed “economic development”. This was part of the budget that resulted in a 23% hike in your property taxes starting 2015.
It was later learned that the $20 million dollars was earmarked by our County Executive to purchase around 1,000 acres of farm land north of Gallatin on the speculation of attracting a yet to be identified manufacturer to build on the site. In support of this request Executive Holt provided a Select Tennessee Property Evaluation Program report provided by Austin Consulting. This report evaluated 5 different properties in Sumner County for suitability as an industrial site to attract business to Sumner County. According to the report issued by Austin
“Austin’s visit to Sumner County was essentially a simulated professional site selector field investigation, not unlike those conducted for an actual corporate site selection client. Austin’s objective was to collect sufficient information about candidate properties, the community, and local and regional economies to extrapolate two conclusions:
- The suitability and readiness of local property (sites and buildings) for job producing development.
- The community’s logical industry targets and associated investment characteristics including size and types of facilities, utility requirements, and transportation ”
Austin concluded that the site north of Gallatin off of 109 was the best of the hand-picked sites evaluated. But Austin felt compelled to add:
“Though not part of this assessment, Austin believes that the Gallatin Industrial Center and the Langley Hall Industrial Sites, both Select TN Certified Sites, remain the best opportunities to attract a new greenfield industrial development in Sumner County in the immediate future.” Final PEP Report – Sumner County
Both the Gallatin Industrial center and Langley Hall are already existing industrial parks in Gallatin today. If Executive Holt really thought we need industrial development, and if he truly wanted the best location for that development, why did he push for this new property north of Gallatin, rather than one of the two already existing sites that the County’s consultants said were the best for that purpose?
In 2016, the County Commissioners wisely established an Ad Hoc Committee to evaluate the proposal. The result of this evaluation and public input was that the County declined Executive Holt’s proposal.
However, at a subsequent meeting of the County’s Industrial Development Board in early 2017, members stated that they should not give up on the proposal and that they should work with the landowners to seek industrial zoning on their own, so that the county could use industrial development bonds or tax increment financing to undertake the development.
One of the members of the Industrial Development Board appointed by Executive Holt is Danny Hale. (Read more about Hale here)
Then, before Thanksgiving, 2017, the landowners, represented by the Bruce Rainey – the Chairman of the Sumner County Zoning Board of Appeals (also appointed by Holt), (link to article about conflict of interest) made a request before the Planning Board to zone the property as industrial under the newly adopted SP Industrial Ordinance. You can find that ordinance here: Resolution Sumner County SP Industrial
Preserve Sumner County was supportive of this new zoning ordinance. It establishes rules that require a potential developer to clearly define the parameters of the development, including the location and size of the buildings, use, landscaping, road setbacks, traffic studies by an engineer, and other important information. This information would allow citizens of Sumner County to make an informed assessment of the impact of this development which will profoundly, and permanently affect our communities and quality of life – either positively or negatively. Without such specificity, we can only resist, because if the development could be anything, we have to resist everything.
However, in spite of the requirements of the SP zoning ordinance, Mr. Rainey’s Original Zoning Request did not contain any of the details of an actual development. It was merely a request to get it zoned industrial, and then seek an actual developer to develop the property. While Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Rainey stated that this was entirely a private action with no government support, the original application for the zoning change, and Rainey’s Submitted Revision, liberally used materials prepared by the county when it was first proposed by Executive Holt, and both versions of the application made material references to public funds in support of the project.
Despite this meeting being scheduled for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, there was a significant turnout of your neighbors who stood firmly against the proposal.
The Planning Commission allowed the group to pull their proposal, rather than go to a vote.
We respect the right of landowners to attempt maximize the value of their property. At the same time, we have a right to maintain the value of our property. If you have any doubt about how your property values will be affected, just ask yourself if you would buy a house if you knew it was next to farmland that was zoned industrial with no plan whatsoever as to who will occupy it or how it would be developed or integrated into the community.
We expect this to come up again. Maybe soon. Probably after the May 1, 2018 primaries When Executive Holt will run again to be the County Executive.
In order for a rezoning request to be heard by the Planning Commission, a party must give the public notice 10 days prior to the meeting in which it will be heard. This clearly favors developers as a developer has an unlimited amount of time to prepare for such a meeting, but the taxpayers have only 10 days to attempt to understand it and form an appropriate response.
When this comes up next, we want to be ready. We are asking for permission in advance to put a sign in your yard as soon as we learn of an action to attempt this rezoning again. These signs will give notice of the urgency of the need to act and direct people to this website where we will have additional information about any proposal as well as the time and date of any meeting in which it will be discussed. Our strongest voice is to stand together at the meetings and let them feel our commitment to each other to preserve our community.
SUBMIT YOUR YARD REQUEST SIGN HERE
Please also let your voice to be heard when the next County Executive will likely be selected in the Republican Primary on May 1, 2018.