A proposed 350-acre business park on the east side of Greenwood will have at least one distribution company as its tenant.
Newgistics, a national distribution company, has filed a request for a tax break as it considers becoming one of the tenants at the site at the southeast side of Graham and Allen roads.
But Greenwood residents are split as to whether this type of business is appropriate for a location that has been billed as a gateway into the city. Some residents at the city council meeting this week argued in favor of the project that they say will bring more good paying jobs to the area, while others said the city should have higher aspirations than distribution companies.
Scannell Properties had requested that 350 acres of farmland and residential property near the Worthsville Road and Interstate 65 interchange be rezoned for commercial use, with the option to bring in distribution facilities. The company has already negotiated the purchase of the nearly 40 properties that make up the site, including several dozen homes. One tenant, Newgistics, has already been announced, while others are under consideration.
Currently, the property is mostly farmland, with more than a dozen homes lining Graham and Allen roads.
Jerry Beasley, who owns a home on Graham Road that Scannell Properties is considering purchasing, said the city should support the rezoning because it will lead to good, high quality jobs for the community, and will increase the city’s tax revenues.
Residents who spoke against the rezoning highlighted concerns about the impact of additional truck traffic in the area, potential noise from the business park and the fact that distribution facilities previously had been specifically excluded from that area of Greenwood.
“We want better for our town,” Greenwood resident Wendy Murphy said.
The city should pursue jobs in the technology industry rather than distribution, she said.
When the city set up an overlay district that specifically excluded distribution companies along the Worthsville Road area, it was making a promise to its residents that it was going to protect them from that type of development, Greenwood resident Randy Goodin said.
Residents should be able to trust that the city will stick with its recently created plans and zoning, and not throw them aside at the first opportunity to bring in a business, he said.
The Greenwood City Council voted 7-2 in favor rezoning the land for commercial uses such as light industrial and manufacturing and 6-3 for changing the overlay district to allow for distribution facilities to be built on the property as well.
Council members Brent Corey and David Lekse voted against both decisions. Council member Bruce Armstrong voted in favor of the rezoning, but against the change in the overlay district.
The council has an obligation to stick with the city’s comprehensive plan, especially when the most recent plan was completed only several years ago, Lekse said.
The business park doesn’t fit with the comprehensive plan or a zoning district the city placed over the eastern Worthsville Road area two years ago, and abruptly disregarding these plans makes it harder for businesses and residents to be sure of where and how they want to invest in the community, he said.
Questions about how much jobs will pay has been a past concern for several council members when approving new developments.
Courtney Lehman, a managing director at Scannell Properties, said he understands that the council is wanting to see higher-paying jobs coming to the community. He said Scannell has been responsible with the development so far by working to purchase the homes in the area rather than boxing them in.
In Newgistic’s request for a tax break, the company said it will pay employees an average of $17.50 an hour, city attorney Krista Taggart said.
The tax break will need to be approved by the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission and the city council, and could be considered at the redevelopment commission’s Tuesday meeting, Taggart said.