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Fiscal court approves zoning change to allow first business on 1793

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By Glen Jennings

Fiscal Court has voted to allow a zoning change that would open the door for the first business on Highway 1793 in Goshen. At the Feb. 7 meeting, the court approved an ordinance that would change the zoning of the property from R-2 Residential to C-N Commercial. 

Advantaclean, a service that cleans mold and heating and air conditioning systems, plans to use the building as a storage facility and administration center. Advantaclean would be the first business to open in that area. 

The C-N zoning classification is usually reserved for urban areas. The C-N classification is the lowest intensity designation available for the intended use.

The affected property, located next to North Oldham Middle School and across the street from the North Oldham Fire Department (NOFD), is a former NOFD fire station.  The fire department has not used the property in any major capacity since 2004. 

The agreement to change the zoning included several binding elements, including  requirements that Advantaclean build a buffer zone and that the property, if used for a different purpose, must go through the approval process again.

Ray Roelandt, the applicant’s attorney, conceded that this stretch of highway is not what some people would think of as an urban area.

“It’s not La Grange, it’s not Pewee Valley, it’s not the City of Crestwood, it’s certainly not Prospect,” Roelandt said. “But we have a rather unique situation that exists on this corridor in that we’ve got an elementary school, a middle school, a high school, all the ball fields…This is a very highly, intensely used area.”

Some Goshen residents who live near the property voiced their opposition to the change.

“Amending the zoning map to convert current residential zoning to commercial at the subject property does nothing to promote health, safety and general welfare,” Ron Fadel, a resident of the nearby Longwood subdivision said. “The contemplated amendment would worsen an already dangerous situation occurring daily on 1793…Every morning when my children go to school, there’s a traffic jam.”

Fadel said the traffic conditions have caused accidents and led motorists to unsafe habits, such as driving in the oncoming lane.

“Adding even incremental increases of vehicles on that road only makes the situation more dangerous,” he said.

Fadel added that if the business grows, that the small increase in traffic could grow as well.

Mark Mosier, another resident, said approving one business could open the door for others.

 “You’ve got rows of buildings there that are grandfathered in that have not got C zoning. Nothing on 1793 has it,” Mosier said. “When you’re thinking about development in that area, it opens up Pandora’s Box.”

John Farmer, who also lives nearby, said he feels businesses would detract from the atmosphere of the area.

“We all bought our houses there for that community aspect,” Farmer said. “A business is not part of that community aspect. Our property values are going up. Realtors are calling us begging to buy our houses. We do not want a business that could possibly lower the value of those homes.”

Applicants countered that the only other option for the building that would not involve changing the zoning would be converting into a living space.

“I don’t think any of us would want to live in that building,” Roelandt said, adding that even if it were converted, it would likely still add to traffic. “If you had five 1,000-square-foot residences within that building, you’re going to have approximately 50 trips in and out a day…we are not talking about that. We are adding maybe 10 trips.”

Darrin Francesconi, Advantaclean’s manager, said the business does not have many employees at its individual locations.

“The largest of all the franchises houses about 12 employees,” Francesconi said. “We are not large conglomerate groups. We work in very small groups across the country.”

Roelandt added that there are not many other opportunities for further business expansion in the area.

“There’s nothing else like this around,” he said.

After modifying an existing binding element regarding lighting, fiscal court voted to approve the change in zoning. Magistrates Wayne Theiss and Bob Dye voted against the change.

In other news

Magistrates and residents of the Ballard Glen subdivision debated about an incomplete paving job in their neighborhood.

The money to pave a section of the neighborhood is held in bonds owned by fiscal court, residents said, and releasing those bonds would partly pay for the job. Residents requested that fiscal court release the bonds and finish paving the neighborhood.

Walt Schumm, the director of the Ballard Glen Homeowners’ Association (HOA), argued that when the subdivision was formed, fiscal court promised to pay for paving the roads. Schumm said the lack of action from county government leaves builders and homeowners to pay for the pavement themselves.

“As the builder we bought lots and as homeowners they bought lots in good faith that the county would exercise their option and forfeiture these bonds to pay the roads,” he said. “At some point, the county needs to accept their responsibility for their lack of diligence in this matter and step up.”

Judge-Executive David Voegele countered that since the county does not own the roads, it is illegal to use public funds to pave them. Voegele said adopting the roads is also not an option since their condition is too poor to be brought into the county road system. 

“I understand your position. We understand it well and we’re sympathetic. We also understand that we’re responsible for everybody’s money in the community and how we apply it. We have to follow the law,” he said. “The legality of the thing is that it can’t be done.” 

He added that a different administration was responsible for creating the problem before the economic collapse of the late 2000s.

“We inherited this,” Voegele said. “I’m not going to say that excuses us from trying to pick it up and do something with it as soon as we became knowledgeable of it.”

County attorney John Carter said the legal options are limited for Ballard Glen residents.

The parties have sought guidance from the attorney general, but have only been able to get an unpublished opinion. Both Schumm and Carter agreed that only a published opinion would hold enough weight to settle the matter.

Schumm disagreed with several points the county attorney and judge-executive contended and suggested there was no easy solution to the problem.

“I would suggest that we mediate this in a manner that’s acceptable for both of us,” he said. “Clearly, there is no answer that is direct and straightforward here.”

Though fiscal court has yet to find a solution, Magistrate Steve Greenwell, who chairs the road committee, said they are still trying to find a workable solution.

 “We were searching, reaching out and trying to find a way to make this happen,” Greenwell said. “We will continue to do that, but one that I thought had the most promise turned out not to be one we could use.”

“We were searching, reaching out and trying to find a way to make this happen,” Greenwell said. “We will continue to do that, but one that I thought had the most promise turned out not to be one we could use.”