Montgomery County’s Board of Commissioners on Monday approved the rezoning of agricultural land near Nucor Steel for the Tempur Sealy plant.
The vote comes weeks after the global mattress and bedding manufacturer announced plans for a $138 million foam-pouring facility that would create about 300 new jobs by the end of 2025. Tempur Sealy has identified land in the 3000 block of East C.R. 200S, known as the Wiley site, for the plant.
Rezoning the land, which has long been pegged for economic development, positions the factory close to Interstate 74 and gives the company access to a railroad, with tracks slicing across part of the site. But neighboring residents say there was a lack of transparency in the process making it seem like the decision to redevelop the site was already made.
“I don’t think any of us in our neighborhood were aware of the steps that had been taken this far, which left us a little bit blindsided that there’s already been a vote that we weren’t allowed to have a say in,” said Jacob Davis, whose family lives a block away from the land, “and now we’re here backpedaling and playing catch-up to something that’s basically already been approved without our knowledge.”
Davis was among 10 residents living near the site who spoke against the rezoning at a public hearing in the City Building. The land sits south of C.R. 150S between C.R. 250E and Nucor Road, across from the Chigger Hollow subdivision.
Commissioners were presented with several letters and a petition containing nearly 30 signatures from nearby residents. Homeowners expressed concerns about increased traffic generated by the plant and the facility’s impact on water and air.
“There’s plenty of other property. I don’t think everybody in here is totally against the plant, it’s where the plant’s going to be doesn’t seem to be the wisest for our community,” said Larry Lovall, whose family’s home is across the road from the site.
Residents also reiterated concerns first raised when the rezoning petition was filed that commissioner John Frey’s relationship to the land’s owner, Wendell Wiley, created a conflict of interest. Frey’s son is married to Wiley’s daughter.
Critics believe Frey stands to make money from the land and suggested his family’s connections played a role in Tempur Sealy finding the property, which the county denies.
Frey, who said he has no financial stake in the project, recused himself from the vote and left the room during the public hearing and action on the rezoning ordinance.
As a member of the plan commission, he also did not participate when the board gave the rezoning a favorable recommendation in May.
While voicing support for the project, Frey said he sat out of the votes because his family ties “may, in the eyes of some, cloud my objectivity in making zoning decisions.” He added that he wanted to “make sure that people have faith in the integrity of our procedures.”
Commissioner Dan Guard said he believes the rezoning lines up with the county’s comprehensive plan.
“This being approved would represent responsible growth and development to a focused area,” Guard said, noting the site’s proximity to the interstate and railways.
Commissioner Jim Fulwider agreed the land is ripe for industrial growth.
“This property didn’t just become something that was looked at in the last few months,” he said.
The commissioners, including Frey, also approved a measure beginning the process of bringing water services to the site.
Under an agreement with the county and the Redevelopment Commission, Indiana American Water is extending a water line along Nucor Road.
An amendment signed by the commissioners would fund engineering services for the next phase of extending the line to C.R. 200S. The additional language still needs the Redevelopment Commission’s approval.