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Zoning board split on land division

It’s back to the drawing board for the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission to find an acceptable solution that could help slow the division of undeveloped land in the county.
For their past two meetings, plan commission members have tabled a proposed amendment to the county’s subdivision ordinance that would limit certain land divisions to 10 years.
‘Ten years is not written in stone,’ said plan commission member Jim Klinstiver, who chaired Thursday night’s meeting in absence of chair Larry Ott.
County planner Eric Wise said the proposed amendment was tweaked again at a work session Nov. 30. Most of the discussion at the work session, which was also attended by land developers and real estate agents, centered around the waiting period.
Klinstiver said the plan commission has worked on an amendment a long time to ‘correct our own writing’ of the subdivision ordinance.
‘We’re not wanting to restrict what people can do with their property,’ said Joe Martin, the Jackson Township trustee who serves on the plan commission. ‘We’re wanting to slow down what happens’ after someone purchases property.
Tom Bube, who tried to send the proposal to the Harrison County Board of Commissioners with an unfavorable recommendation, said he would like to see the limit of redividing property to two years. His motion died for lack of a second.
After more discussion, Charlie Crawford made a motion to table any action until an additional work session can be held. ‘I think we’re still too divided to decide,’ he said.
Crawford’s motion passed unanimously.
Wording of an amendment will be discussed at a work session on Jan. 11, which means the docket item won’t be scheduled until at least Feb. 1.
Also at Thursday night’s meeting, a Corydon businessman got the OK from the plan commission to have his property rezoned, from A-R to I-1a (light industry). Now, Mansen Way must wait until Monday night to see if the Harrison County Board of Commissioners will approve the zoning change.
Way, owner of Awningtec USA Inc., which is located off S.R. 62 west of Corydon, purchased additional property nearby, about 6-1/2 acres, with the anticipation of expanding his business.
His request was tabled last month by the plan commission after concerns arose about allowing light industry along a designated scenic byway.
Darrell Voelker, director of the Economic Development Corp. for Harrison County, spoke at last week’s meeting, encouraging the plan commission to rezone the property, which is located on the southwest quadrant of the intersection of S.R. 62 and Gethsemane Road.
‘It’s a business we need to keep in the county,’ Voelker said. ‘Without businesses, the community goes away.’
Voelker added that the county has experienced ‘some tough times lately,’ recalling the closing of Keller Manufacturing Co. and Tower Automotive.
‘I won’t go as far to say it’s the best place for a new industrial park …, ‘ Voelker said in response to questions about Way relocating his entire business to the existing industrial park off Quarry Road. But, ‘The best thing would be if he can expand his business where he is.’
Voelker is aware of the scenic byway status of S.R. 62; he is a volunteer member of the scenic byway board.
‘I’m glad to see you here for (Awningtech)’ said plan commission member Tom Bube.
J.R. Eckart, who chairs the county Board of Commissioners and serves on the plan commission, expressed concern about the types of businesses that could relocate on Way’s property if he decided to sell it after it’s rezoned.
‘I’d worry about that, too,’ replied Voelker, who added that the property is near Interstate 64 and could be near an interchange, once government officials determine the exact location west of Corydon. ‘Keeping the business in Harrison County is more important than that.’
Adrienne Rich asked Way how long it might be before he would need to expand his business again.
‘That’s a crystal ball question,’ Way said. ‘The future is based on what I decide to do with it.’
He said when he had the business in Canada, he had 45 employees. At the Corydon site, he has 22 employees; he could increase that by 50 percent, if he gets approval allowing him to expand here.
‘I was a little bit disappointed that you didn’t come back and ask for a PUD (Planned Unit Development) or special exception,’ Eckart told Way. ‘That would be a lot more palatable for this board.’
Way said that would make it more difficult to sell the property, if he decided to do that.
‘I believe this county needs more industry, manufacturing not service,’ Way said.
The motion to send Way’s request to the county commissioners with a favorable recommendation passed 5-0-1, with Eckart abstaining. He said he will have to vote on the request Monday night.
In other matters Thursday night, Randy Hunter of New Middletown appeared before the plan commission after receiving notice that a covered porch he added to his house was in violation.
After some discussion, the plan commission decided to table any action until they hear from someone on the New Middletown Town Council and county administrator Terry Smith, who was absent from last week’s meeting, regarding the violation.