(Posted May 9, 2019)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The annexation and rezoning process is complete. With unanimous votes on both, West Jefferson council cleared the way for Duke Realty to develop a new industrial park northeast of U.S. Route 40, across from the existing West Jefferson Commerce Park.
On May 6, council members approved the petition for annexation of 250 acres referred to as the Looby Estate into the village. Then, they held a public hearing on the rezoning of that property in combination with 125 adjacent acres already annexed into the village.
After receiving no comments during the public hearing, council voted to rezone the 375 acres from agricultural use to a planned commerce district. At the same time, they approved conditional uses and the site plan for the property and granted a variance for the landscape plan.
The new industrial park will be built in phases over 10 to 20 years. It will consist of seven buildings and a network of connecting roads. Acreage will be set aside for natural preservation, and stormwater ponds will be incorporated to restrict flow rates and better recharge groundwater.
At this time, there is no prospective tenant for park.
In other action, council:
- amended the boundaries of its northern community reinvestment area to include additional property and amend the exemption that can be negotiated in that area;
- set employee cell phone reimbursement allowances, adding the president of council to the list of eligible positions; and
- and designated May 12-18 as Police Week, in conjunction with national recognition of the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers.
Council opted to table adoption of a new village personnel policy manual that would have replaced a version passed in 2013.
Mayor Ray Martin reported that participation in this year’s drug take-back day, held April 27, was up over last year. Residents turned in a total of 31.5 pounds of unused and expired medications for safe disposal at the Jefferson Township Fire Station.
Park expansion idea
John Stanley, president of West Jefferson Youth Inc., and Josh Peters, the non-profit’s soccer commissioner, presented council with the idea of expanding Converse Park to accommodate an additional baseball field, nine soccer fields, several small peewee league soccer fields, and a concessions and restroom facility.
They said participation in their programs is growing and will continue to grow as the village’s population increases. Between practices and games, they said they are having trouble juggling field space for the various youth sports they offer. Their idea is to extend Converse Park into an adjacent 25 acres owned by the village.
The village nearly sold that acreage about a year ago to a residential developer, but stepped away from the deal because the type of housing being proposed didn’t fit what the village had in mind for the property, said John Mitchell, West Jefferson’s director of public service.
Village leaders took the property off the market so they could think about zoning options. One possibility is a planned unit development, which would allow for a variety of housing types and uses, Mitchell said.
The May 6 council meeting was the first time Mitchell had heard about West Jefferson Youth’s ideas for the property. He said he and village leaders would need to look at the proposal.
Mitchell also noted that the village is working through an assessment of all its parks, including Garrette Park. The village should be closing soon on the purchase of the park from Jefferson Local Schools. Mitchell said an agreement with the West Jefferson Community Association, which owns the Ox Roast grounds adjacent to Garrette Park, could yield possibilities for athletic field development.
Upcoming village events
- Shred-It Day will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 18 at the West Jefferson Police Department, 28 E. Main St. The public is invited to bring their personal documents to be shredded.
- The West Jefferson Community Center will host a family dance, “Boots, Bowties and Tiaras,” from to 8 p.m. May 18.
- The village swimming pool opens May 31.
- Lunch & Learns, offering free meals and activities for children, will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, June 3-Aug. 15, at the community center.