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Milltown looks to Harrison Co. for zoning assistance

Milltown officials got the OK last week to pursue a proposal to have Harrison County oversee development in the town of about 1,000 people who live on either side of Blue River.
About one square mile of Milltown, which is divided by the river, is in Crawford County, which has no zoning and no immediate plans to adopt rules to control development. The eastern half is in Harrison County. That part of Milltown already meets the requirements of Harrison County’s comprehensive plan, because the town has no zoning rules that would take precedence over Harrison.
“The (Harrison County) plan commission supports the idea, and is looking for support from the commissioners so the town can start the background work,” said Harrison County planner Eric Wise.
Speaking to the three commissioners last week, Wise said adding the Crawford part of Milltown isn’t expected to increase the plan commission’s workload that much, and arrangements could be worked out through an interlocal agreement granting Harrison County jurisdiction.
Once the costs are determined, Milltown could reimburse those, which would be much less expensive than preparing, adopting and carrying out terms of a Milltown comprehensive plan by themselves, Wise said.
Otherwise, Wise said, “They would have to reinvent the wheel.”
“Crawford County has basically said, ‘You go it alone,’ ” said David Skinner, Milltown’s council president. “It’s up to the towns.”
Kathleen Roggenkamp of Milltown spoke in support of the proposal.
“We’re definitely in favor of some kind of planning and zoning,” she said. “We have some wonderful town ordinances that go a long way into zoning and planning. We can use them.”
She added: “We don’t want to force anything on our citizens that they can’t bear or go along with.
“If it really came down to a fist fight, it would be a donkey-kicking contest, and you know what that comes down to,” Roggenkamp said. She doesn’t expect the rest of Crawford County to adopt planning and zoning. “Never in my lifetime,” she said.
Skinner said zoning is already in place on the Harrison County side of Milltown, and that’s what the council wants for the rest of the town.
“We want everything to be equal on both sides,” he said. “Right now, it’s not.”
No one spoke out against the proposal at the Harrison County Commissioners’ meeting, but one Milltown resident questioned the Crawford commissioners about the plan last week.
Lafon Seacat of Milltown said he believes the plan, if adopted, would disenfranchise Milltown residents on the Crawford side because they would have no recourse to Harrison County’s decisions regarding zoning.
But Crawford County attorney John E. Colin said Milltown would still control what goes on in the town, because the town’s officials would decide if zoning ordinances would have any effect in Crawford.
Harrison Commissioner Terry L. Miller also questioned whether all of the town’s Crawford residents would have recourse. “They would have somebody they could vote out if they don’t like it?” he asked, referring to town officials.
“Yes,” said attorney William L. Shaneyfelt, attorney for the Indiana Regional 15 Planning Commission, which works to improve quality of life for residents in six counties, including Crawford.
Townspeople would still elect town officials and so would have recourse there, he said.
Speaking on behalf of Milltown, Shaneyfelt said whether the support of Crawford or Harrison officials should be sought first is immaterial. “We need to start someplace,” he said. “You don’t know what’s the chicken and what’s the egg.
“We thought Crawford would want to know if Harrison is interested.”
Harrison Commissioner James Goldman said, “We don’t want to give the impression on Crawford Countians that we are trying to impose zoning on Crawford County.”
Commissioner J.R. Eckart, who serves on Harrison’s plan commission, said Harrison County is pleased that the agency is seen as a positive force. “If somebody is looking at what we have done as good for the community, to ask us to extend that, we appreciate that.”
His motion to support Milltown’s endeavor to implement zoning and to continue a dialogue in that respect was seconded by Goldman.
“We will hear more as it comes along,” Goldman said.
Miller noted that using Harrison County’s building inspectors to ensure building safety codes were met for new construction would be beneficial to the town. “It would be a great asset for the town of Milltown,” Miller said. “They need to do it somehow.
“It’s for the good of the citizens.”