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Ordinance to slow land development stalls

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners held a short meeting Saturday afternoon to discuss proposed amendments to the subdivision ordinance that were designed to slow the division of undeveloped land. The meeting lasted less than 20 minutes.
County planner Eric Wise told the commissioners in March they had until May 7 to act on the request or it would automatically be approved. The commissioners motioned to hold a special meeting on the amendments with the stipulation that if the meeting did not occur, the amendments would automatically be denied.
The plan commission had sent the amendment to the commissioners with a favorable 5-0 recommendation.
Commissioner J.R. Eckart, who originally requested the special meeting to be held, was not present at Saturday’s meeting.
Commissioner chairman James Goldman said telephone calls to Eckart’s home and cell phone went unanswered Saturday.
‘I think that J.R. wanted to discuss it, and thought that we’d go through this item by item,’ Goldman told Wise during the meeting.
Wise told the commissioners they could either approve the amendments, deny them or send them back to the Harrison County Plan Commission with suggested changes.
Goldman told Wise that Eckart had wanted to have the meeting, and he wanted to give him the opportunity to discuss the issues.
Goldman and Commissioner Terry Miller then sent the amendments back to the plan commission after changing a proposed amendment from ‘A division of land’ to ‘Division of land’ under amendment three.
Residents at Saturday’s meeting were split over the proposed amendments which would put a six-year limitation on the division of a new parcel after it has been split. The amendment would not affect existing lots.
Gordon Ingle said the amendments would only affect properties with a lot of road frontage.
‘You basically have roadside subdivisions, and that’s not good for the county,’ Ingle told both Miller and Goldman.
Ingle said he wanted the commissioners to ‘seriously consider’ the proposed amendment.
‘It’s time to kill it or not kill it,’ Ingle said.
However, Richard Gettelfinger believes the amendment will hurt low-income families.
‘If you take away this option, you’re not going to just affect a few developers,’ Gettelfinger said, adding the amendment should never have even been drafted.
Both Miller and Goldman had expressed earlier in the meeting that they wanted to hash out the points of the amendment to make sure there would be no underlying negative effects on Harrison County residents.
Since the commissioners made the ‘change’ from A division to Division of land in the proposed amendment, the plan commission will now have 60 days to consider those changes before sending the amendment back to the commissioners with their recommendation.