Scott County Commissioners Considering Offer From Auto Auction Firm

A national auto auction company with 170 locations in the US and Canada approached the Scott County Commissioners last Wednesday with an offer to purchase land at the north edge of Austin to construct a rebuildable wrecks auction lot.
Insurance Auto Auctions Inc., through their developer Carver Construction, wants to build an auto auction on 63 acres east of Austin Tri-Hawk.
In August the company gained approval by Jackson County officials for the same facility just north of Uniontown on a 64 acre parcel at the intersection of County Roads 1240 E & 200 N.
The company originally wanted to locate in Seymour, according to Seymour-based Realtor Paul Nay who is representing Carver, but failed to gain Seymour Zoning approval for the proposed project sites along US 31 and adjacent to I-65.
Carver Construction got approval from the Jackson County BZA for a special exception in September but apparently Jackson County officials have not sealed the deal.
“Jackson County approved a location (along I-65) but the company likes this spot better,” Nay said about the northern Scott County property.
According to the company, access would be off US 31 just north of Tri-Hawk on Just Drive. Carver would own the facility and lease it to Insurance Auto Auctions Inc.
The vehicles, owned by insurance companies, will have previously been damaged in wrecks or natural disasters such as floods or tornadoes, officials said.
Company officials have said they have been looking to set-up a location in southern Indiana in-between its Indianapolis and Kentucky operations. IAAI officials have said that they fit between 100 to 170 vehicles per acre and hope to have a quick turnaround of vehicles of no more than 45 days.
The Scott County auction would have 15 employees, according to Nay, and offer vehicles for sale online.
The property was acquired by Scott County in the early 1990’s to serve as an industrial park. Austin Tri-Hawk became the park’s first manufacturer in the 2005.
IAAI offered the county $12,000 an acre for the 63-acre parcel.
“That’s less than the property we sold in 2005,” said Commissioner president Bob Tobias. “Fifteen employees won’t pull that many people into the county. Would a factory be better for Scott County?”
Commissioner Mike Jones said that while manufacturing employment might be good, Scott County has difficulty producing sufficient numbers of workers. “A lot of our factory workers live in Jackson County,” said Jones.
“I don’t see how this (auto auction) is better for the people of Scott County,” said Tobias who noted that the county receives about $6,000 a year income from farmland rental and had a $100,000 timber sale from the woodlands on undevelopable wetland portion of the property.
“Unless it is a manufacturing facility, which is what this industrial park was set up for originally,” said Tobias, “down the road this (auction) facility may not be in Scott County’s best interest.”
“They could be here today and gone next week,” Tobias added.
“The auction company stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange,” said Jones.
“I get that but Sears & Roebuck was too,” Tobias replied about the now bankrupt former retail giant.
Commissioner John Lizenby raised an environmental issue about fluids leaking out of the vehicles and into the ground.
Nay assured the commissioners that the company has protocols to deal with such matters. “But by the time the cars get towed from an accident scene to the impound lot then sent to the auction, most of the liquids are no longer in the vehicle to drain out,” he said.
Tobias pointed out that the county property is zoned for light industry. “This business doesn’t manufacture anything,” he said.
While the commissioners agreed that the initial purchase offer was not enough, they did agree to allow the process to move forward. The Scott County Advisory Plan Commission is to meet tonight (Oct. 14) at 6:30 to consider the matter. If the proposal gets their approval then it goes to the Scott County Redevelopment Commission for consideration. And if the matter gains their approval, then it will come back to the county commissioners for final action.
“Hopefully by that time they will have a more realistic offer for the property,” said Tobias.