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Hunter sounds ‘alarm’ on lost ground

When Corydon attorney Gordon Ingle went to a favorite turkey hunting spot in southwest Harrison County in April, he was shocked to find mobile homes in places where there used to be fields.
‘I have nothing against mobile homes,’ he told the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission at its regular meeting Thursday night. ‘We need low-cost housing.’
But, Ingle contends that ‘there’s a serious loophole’ in the county’s comprehensive plan and subdivision control ordinance, which he knows was revised years ago in an attempt to reduce ways some landowners have circumvented the intentions of the plan commission.
‘I’m here to raise the alarm,’ he said.
Ingle said he thinks the county will experience ‘very significant consequences’ if the current loophole isn’t closed. Under current conditions, he said, low-cost housing is being scattered throughout the county, is encouraging the installation of septic systems rather than working towards sewer districts and could depress real estate in the county.
Harrison County Planner Eric Wise said yesterday that the 2000 census showed 2,325 single-wide mobile homes in the county, compared to 13,699 dwellings. Since Jan. 1, 2001, at least 291 permits have been issued for mobile homes, he said. Approximately two-thirds of those trailers are located south of S.R. 62, Wise noted.
Joining Ingle at last week’s meeting were a handful of residents from the area Ingle was speaking about. ‘I felt like this was the first place we needed to come,’ said Ingle, adding that he also intends to address the Harrison County Board of Commissioners.
‘You’re not the first person … to raise the same point,’ said plan commission member Jim Klinstiver.
As the senior member of the plan commission, Klinstiver said the ordinance was revamped years ago in hopes of tightening the rein on dividing property.
‘We were thinking of the farmer, splitting for his kids,’ he said. ‘We thought it would be an end lot; we didn’t know it would keep on going.’
Ingle told the plan commission he realizes it’s difficult to tell people what they can do with their property, but he said he was ‘willing to do whatever’ he has to do to help stop mobile homes from popping up everywhere.
‘They’re being scattered throughout the county rather than condensing it,’ he said.
The plan commission agreed to discuss an amendment to the ordinance at its next work session, which will be July 20 at 7 p.m. at the county annex building on South Mulberry Street.
In other matters Thursday night, the plan commission tabled a request by Frank Fey for approval of phase two of a major subdivision off Flatwood Road in Morgan Township.
Jason Copperwaite, of Paul Primavera & Associates in Corydon, said the second phase of the project would place 11 lots on 19-plus acres.
The decision to table the request was made when Donald Cole, a resident whose property adjoins some of the acreage in phase one of the Fey project, told the plan commission last week that he wants a fence to separate his property from the proposed subdivision.
‘You can’t tell where one property ends and the other starts,’ Cole said.
Wise said the plat shows an existing fence, but no one could say what kind of condition it’s in. Plan commission member Charlie Crawford said he helped erect the fence about 55 years ago.
Copperwaite questioned Cole’s timing in asking for a fence now, about a year after the plan commission approved phase one, but the plan commission wouldn’t budge on its decision to table the request until the property owners work out an agreement for a fence.
The plan commission’s next meeting will be Aug. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Commissioners Room of the Harrison County Court House.