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Developers seek first step to build in floodplain

If a zoning change is approved for property along the Ohio River, a developer intends to divide the land into 86 lots for dwellings ‘with a really nice view of the river,’ said Scott Hanna of Heritage Engineering.
Representatives from Heritage Engineering of Floyds Knobs and Hughes Group Inc. of Jeffersonville asked the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission for the zoning change, from A-R to R-2, Thursday night. The request ended up being tabled until the April 6 meeting because the six plan commission members present couldn’t reach an agreement. (Three other members were absent.)
New Albany attorney John Kraft reminded the plan commission that they were only being asked to consider the change of zoning request and referred to guidelines in the county’s Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted prior to Caesars Indiana locating in the southeast part of the county.
‘If you took the Comprehensive Plan as gospel, there would be no Caesars’ in Harrison County, Kraft said.
The property in question, which is in a floodplain, is located on the east side of S.R. 111 about 500 feet north of S.R. 211, toward New Albany.
Hanna said if the zoning change is approved and the developer proceeds as planned, there will be about 86 lots and ‘lots of open space.’
The proposed structures, which would be served by a treatment plant built on site, will have parking on the ground level with the living area on the second story, said Mark Johnson.
Plan commission member Joe Martin asked the staff if any other property in the floodplain had been approved for zoning changes. County planner Eric Wise said yes, the property about 200 yards from the site in question had been rezoned.
‘I think it’s crazy to build there,’ Martin responded.
George Hughes, who has owned the property since 2003, told the plan commission that the land was not underwater following the heavy rains in January 2005 that flooded Caesars’ parking garage, but it was flooded in 1997.
‘I probably own more riverfront property than anyone in Clark County,’ Hughes said. ‘We develop with certain things in mind.
‘People love to live on the river,’ he said. ‘Homes have to be built to certain standards. I can understand if somebody says it’s pretty far- fetched, but it’s being done’ especially since Indiana passed a law in early 2003 that allows building in a flood plain.
Kraft ensured the plan commission that if approved, the developer and engineers would have to meet specifications outlined by other government agencies.
Rhonda Rhoads made the motion to approve the zoning change, and Victor McCauley, who said he is ‘basically opposed to putting houses on good farm land,’ seconded her motion.
‘The land’s already fragmented in that area,’ McCauley said.
Harrison County Surveyor Tom Bube, who conducted the meeting in chairman Larry Ott’s absence, voted for the motion along with Rhoads and McCauley. Martin and Adrienne Rich voted against it, while Charlie Crawford abstained.
McCauley then moved to table the request; Rhoads seconded the motion which passed unanimously.
A public hearing item by Duncan Sobers and Darlene Henninger was withdrawn. They had initially asked to rezone property in Heth Township near S.R. 11 and Black John Well Road from A-R to R-1.
One special exception request was forwarded to the Harrison County Board of Zoning Appeals with a favorable recommendation. William Brock wants to operate a vehicle repair and impound business at 7650 Union Chapel Road. The BZA will hear the request at its next meeting, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. in the Commissioners Room of the Harrison County Court House.

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