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Controversial, highly visible Corydon subdivision approved

After several contentious public hearings, brothers Don and Steve Thieneman were granted a PUD zoning designation during a lightly attended and relatively quiet Corydon Town Council meeting Monday night viewed as a formality, and with good reason.
‘I don’t recall even one time that we did not support the recommendation of the planning and zoning commission,’ said Fred Cammack, council president and a member of Corydon Planning and Zoning Commission which unanimously voted June 19 to give a favorable recommendation for the change to PUD or Planned Unit Development.
Not only is Cammack a member of both bodies, but, by law, two other members of the Corydon Town Council sit on the commission. Since the recommendation was given by unanimous vote, a majority vote on the five-member council was assured unless someone had a change of mind.
The Summit Estates planned unit development is accessed by Sky Park Drive and places 102 residential lots on 50.8 acres with the south side of the development abutting westbound Interstate 64 near Corydon, making it highly visible from the interstate.
The plat underwent numerous revisions and was scrutinized by many of the property’s neighbors over the course of several public meetings, leading at times to heated comments both for and against the development as well as personal attacks.
On Monday night, however, only Mansen Way and his wife, Deborah, along with attorney Richard Mullineaux were present for what Mullineaux described as ‘the last chance to sidetrack’ the development.
The PUD designation addresses specific details of a proposed development and can allow for mixed-use development, such as a combination of residential and commercial. It also can include deviations that would normally require a variance.
Cammack said the zoning commission preferred the PUD designation because they ‘saw it as an opportunity to make it something more than just a run-of-the-mill subdivision.’
The plan includes curbs, gutters, storm sewers, sidewalks and ornamental street lamps as well as numerous covenants relating to aesthetic considerations, and rules to establish a homeowners association. All homes are to be brick and range in price from $175,000 and up.
Mullineaux questioned whether or not a PUD designation was legally appropriate. He said the criteria had not been met, arguing the law specifically states that PUDs are for mixed-use development.
Corydon’s town attorney, Ron Simpson, said the intent of the legislation was ‘pretty obvious,’ and that PUD gave the commission greater control over the final product.
‘The plan commission realized early on that if you allow one-third-acre lots crammed up against Indian Hills subdivision, you do a disservice to the neighbors,’ Simpson said.
The adjacent lots are an acre or larger in size, he said.
The PUD designation for exclusively residential use is the norm among those developed in Harrison County, Cammack said.
Saying he was ‘blown off’ when he voiced concern before the zoning commission about the impact of highway noise on youth, Mansen Way again presented research on this phenomenon in Austria.
No one from the council commented on the topic.
Deborah Way said she was concerned that a precedent was set by granting a PUD that allowed deviations from various development standards.
‘Each case is considered on its own merit,’ Cammack said.
Deborah Way also voiced concern over a comment from the board regarding a lack of means with which to enforce its decisions and the provisions of the PUDs.
‘They rely on an underpaid attorney,’ Simpson said, eliciting a chuckle from the audience, indicative of the change in tone from past debates on the property.
During the meetings, opponents of the subdivision dropped hints that a legal challenge might result were the subdivision approved, adding credence to those comments was the presence of Mullineaux and his stenographer.
Many of the same individuals squared off over a portion of the same piece of property in 2000 when it was proposed as a baseball and softball complex for the Friends of Harrison County Youth.
Neighbors on Sky Park Drive and in Indian Hills subdivision successfully fought that use largely on the grounds that heavy traffic before and after games would put residents and ballpark users at risk.