Kristi attended the McCracken County, Kentucky, fiscal court zoning commission hearing tonight where they were considering an application for a zoning change for some rural land in the Ohio River bottoms west of Paducah. Right across from Harrah's casino and hotel complex in Metropolis, Illinois.
The zoning change was from residential to heavy industrial. Yeah, that's a big change. They want to approve a new barge to rail coal terminal on the Ohio River so that they can receive coal for a new yet to be built coal to jet fuel facility that will be built nearby.
The neighborhood where the zoning change is being considered is pretty well united against it. The city of Metropolis is against it, and the casino is against it. It will create a handful of jobs, and there isn't proper infrastructure in the neighborhood to support this kind of industry without a lot of investment. Yet, governments are strapped at the moment.
But the bureaucrats in the McCracken County government couldn't see the forest for the trees and instead chose to throw out the baby with the bathwater and approved the zoning change. This happened in front of a room full of neighbors which opposed it. Nervy and not smart.
If you go to the Paducah - McCracken County website, the home page is a map of the region, with Paducah in the middle. By definition, that includes about as much of southern Illinois as it does western Kentucky. Working together would be advantageous, and we would all benefit if Paducah and McCracken county gave respect to the region as a whole.
But obviously they don't. How could they go against one of the largest employers in the immediate area for something that is speculative and if it does come to fruition, would mean little in terms of regional employment compared with losing Harrahs? Why put the county into a position where it may be responsible for expensive major upgrades of roads and other utilities to serve these new heavy industry neighbors?
I'm sure this controversy is far from over. There will likely be lawsuits, and seems unlikely to me that the folks that want to do this will find the financing. It just isn't a friendly environment for this kind of facility. But the fact that their own fiscal court would do this to their own people on the flimsiest of reasons and a in the face of a large roomful of opposition kind of blows my mind. It shows that they aren't thinking right.