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Planners again look at slowing land development

Two topics for discussion that could have a long-term effect on Harrison County are on the agenda for the advisory plan commission’s next work session.
One item the nine-member board will continue to hash out at its Jan. 24 work session is an acceptable solution to slow the division of undeveloped land in the county.
In October, the plan commission had advertised an amendment to the ordinance but tabled action on the request at its November and December meetings to reconsider what was proposed.
Initially suggesting that certain land divisions be limited to once every 10 years, some plan commission members have stated that they believe that’s too long.
Anyone is welcome to attend the work session, which will start at 7:30 p.m. in the county annex building.
Also to be discussed that night is a Request For Proposals that county planner Eric Wise drafted for the plan commission. The RFP will seek qualified consulting firms to update the county’s Comprehensive Plan, which was last done in 1996.
The Request For Proposals will ask, among other things, that the updated Comprehensive Plan:
‘ Define a clear direction how development should occur during the next five, 10 and 15 years;
‘ Define an economically viable land-use plan that accommodates existing and future development needs;
‘ Determine a specific implementation plan for immediate, short- and long-term action items;
‘ Identify appropriate infrastructure needs for the county based on anticipated development;
‘ Create a seamless transition between the Town of Corydon Comprehensive Plan and the county plan;
‘ Effectively integrate community components such as land-use, existing transportation plans, infrastructure, economic development, parks and open space, demographics and housing into a concise, easy-to-use planning document; and
‘ Provide policy guidance regarding possible development of a new Ohio River bridge and new Interstate 64 interchange.
At its regular meeting Thursday night, the plan commission unanimously approved Eric Rusby’s request to rezone two parcels in Palmyra from A-R and R-2 to B-2. The Harrison County Board of Commissioners will have final say in the request at its next meeting, which will be Tuesday, Jan. 16. The new zoning, if approved, would allow retail establishments as well as fast-food eateries.
Rusby said the property, just over an acre, is about three blocks east of the intersection of U.S. 150 and S.R. 135, and has access to town water and sewer. Besides having entry from U.S. 150, there is an alternate drive onto Church Street.
‘We don’t really have a tenant yet,’ Rusby told the board, but he hopes to bring new business to the town.
Johnny Rainbolt, who formerly operated an ice cream shop in Palmyra and lives next to Rusby’s property with his mother, said they favor the rezoning. ‘My mother and I would be very happy to see that property developed,’ Rainbolt said.
Wise, the county planner, said the Town of Palmyra wrote a letter in support of Rusby’s request.
In other matters last week, the plan commission considered two special exception requests.
The first, by Aaron Scott, to allow a bus garage at 7240 Rothrock Mill Road near Frenchtown, was forwarded by unanimous vote to the Harrison County Board of Zoning Appeals with a favorable recommendation. Scott, who plans to take over his father’s business of maintaining buses for the North Harrison Community School Corp., indicated in his application that he would have no more than 10 school buses on the property at any one time.
Gary Lowe’s request to perform car restoration work on his property at 120 Fogel Road south of Corydon, was forwarded to the BZA with no recommendation.
Wise told the plan commission that Lowe is currently out of compliance with zoning ordinances and is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 24 as part of the county’s attempt to enforce its regulations.
By making the special exception request, Wise said, Lowe is trying to bring his property into compliance. Lowe submitted a letter with his request, stating that he has been restoring old cars as a hobby since he was about 15 years old.
An aerial photo of Lowe’s property showed numerous vehicles scattered about the property along with two semi-tractor trailers that he reportedly uses to store parts.
‘This is how I relax and relieve stress, boredom and just enjoy myself,’ he wrote. ‘Everyone would have to agree that this is better than a lot of things going on in the county, drug dealing, drinking, stealing, gambling and so on.’
Apparently, at least one neighbor doesn’t agree.
Attorney Gordon Ingle, who spoke on behalf of neighbors who object to Lowe’s request, submitted more recent photographs than the aerial shot and ones that show what the property looks like from different angles.
Lowe had said in his letter that he is willing to erect a privacy fence.
The plan commission voted 5-0-1 (Jim Klinstiver abstained, citing a conflict) to send the request with no recommendation.
The BZA will consider both special exception requests at its next meeting, which is Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Commissioners Room of the Harrison County Court House.
While discussing violations, John Evans, legal counsel for the plan commission, reported that Randy Hunter had obtained a permit for a covered porch that he had added to his home in New Middletown. ‘It looks like he’s taken the first steps in getting that problem resolved,’ Evans said.
Hunter had appeared before the plan commission last month after receiving notice of the violation.
Cyndi Mattingly, clerk-treasurer for New Middletown, said last week that Hunter’s porch is six inches on the right-of-way. Calling the situation a ‘double-edge sword,’ Mattingly said the town had wanted Hunter to make needed repairs to his residence, but part of the added structure is not on his property.
Plan commission member Victor McCauley suggested the town handle the situation with an encroachment permit and to enter an agreement with Hunter that he not let his property fall into disrepair again.
Mansen Way of Corydon also appeared before the plan commission Thursday night. His business, Awningtec USA Inc., also is in violation.
Evans said last week that Way has responded to a letter that outlines the violations. Way said he anticipates having the business, which is located off S.R. 62 west of Corydon, in compliance by May 31.
Last month, the plan commission gave a favorable recommendation for Way’s zoning change request, from A-R to I-1a (light industrial), for property near Awningtec that Way had purchased. The county commissioners approved the zoning change at their meeting Dec. 18.
Way said last week he is negotiating with Robert Hollis to purchase property that sits between Awningtec and the recently rezoned property. Hollis had the property zoned as a Planned Unit Development more than a year ago with plans to build a senior citizen complex. No work has been done to construct the complex.