Bedford County Board of Commissioners voted unanimous approval last Tuesday of the county paying its share of a $2.1 million land purchase for expansion of 231 North Industrial Park.
The land comprises approximately 33 acres at 2905 U.S. 231 North adjacent to the park. Current owner Janice Carlton will receive $2.1 million, with the city and county splitting the cost evenly. The land will be annexed into the Shelbyville City limits.
Proponents say the additional land is needed because of demand by potential industrial prospects for direct access to the highway.
A new campus for Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Shelbyville (TCAT) will also be part of the park.
The park’s current entrance is on narrow Frank Martin Road.
Before the land vote, Bedford County Commission moved last Tuesday in favor of a new interlocal agreement with the City of Shelbyville for operation and development of 231 North Business Park, replacing a previous agreement ratified in 2015.
The resolution specifies that the park’s oversight committee has the authority and responsibility to “enter into contracts or execute any instruments” on behalf of the city and county and “define the terms of purchase of any land or property that may become part of, an addition to, or an extension of, 231 North Business Park.
Commissioner Greg Vick told fellow commissioners any financial actions involving the county would require advance approval by the full commission following advancement through the committee process.
Commissioner Bill Anderson made a motion that one portion of the revised interlocal agreement – stating “The Oversight Committee has authority to use proceeds of the sale of Park property for the acquisition of additional lands adjacent to or near the park for inclusion in the Park as approved through their annual budget process” – be removed and the remainder of the agreement approved.
Anderson has consistently said that decisions involving “taxpayers’ money” should be made by Shelbyville City Council and Bedford County Commission, not the oversight committee.
That motion failed 9-8; 10 votes were needed to pass. The commission voted 15-1 to approve the revised agreement with Anderson dissenting.
A change in the makeup of the park’s oversight committee is included in the new agreement. The previous committee included a member of Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce. That position will now be filled by the Director of Economic Development for Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership Inc. Shane Hooper currently holds that position. Hooper, as director of economic development for Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership Inc., will be the point person for handling contracts.
The committee is made up of one Bedford County Commissioner, one Shelbyville City Council member, and one representative each from the City and County governments in addition to Hooper.
Commissioner Linda Yockey said she disagrees with the committee rather than County Financial Director Robert Daniel approving contracts. She requested that a decision on the interlocal agreement be deferred until October’s commission meeting so details could be studied further. That request drew a strong response from Commissioner Jeff Sweeney, who said industrial development moves at a quick pace and that the Commission has a history of repeatedly delaying decisions.
Sweeney said industrial prospects need and expect fast responses.
“This is a perfect example of what’s going on with economic development right now,” Sweeney said. “We have companies coming in that are talking to Shane, they’re very interested in our industrial park, and they have a window to make decisions based on location, finance, opportunity, other counties pursuing their business, and when they come into a meeting discussing business with Shane it’s critical that we fail to give them an answer within 30 to 45 days…At some point we have to trust the system. It’s frustrating…I know for a fact we’ve lost a couple of deals because we could not give them an answer.”
Sweeney thinks the current industrial boom taking place across middle Tennessee will eventually reduce in number and the county needs to take advantage of current opportunities quickly.
“We’re going to lose those opportunities, if we sit here every 30 days arguing about it,” Commissioner Mark Thomas added.
Rezoning of 130 acres of land north and west of the U.S. 231 North-Eady Road intersection from A-1 (Agricultural-Forestry) to C-1 (Commercial Rural Center District) was unanimously approved by the commission.
“We have periodic inquiries regarding this property on Highway 231 North, and all of them are commercial in nature,” an application filed by a representative of owner DHRK Properties LLC said.
Businesses ranging from a concrete plant to a park containing businesses connected with the restoration and repair of extremely high-end high-performance vehicles such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis have been mentioned as possible uses for the property in previous zoning-related meetings.
Questions were raised about why former commissioner Brent Smith, who resigned his District 1 seat after moving to the Wartrace area from his former home near Bell Buckle, wasn’t participating in the meeting.
Former Commissioner Chasity Gunn announced her resignation in July but participated in the August meetings of the full commission and a subcommittee. The commission was told that Gunn had not yet moved to her new home outside her Shelbyville district at the time of those meetings.
Smith announced his resignation after his move. Smith was praised and recognized for his work by fellow Commissioners.
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