Posted on

Neighbors object to highway garage site

Residents next to and near the property purchased for a new Harrison County highway garage voiced opposition to the plan at Thursday night’s meeting of the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission.
Opponents, led by Diane Reed and Dave McBeth, questioned the process that resulted in the county buying the approximate 18-1/2-acre parcel located on the northeast corner of S.R. 135 and Shiloh Road and the west side of Old S.R. 135 between Shiloh and Heidelberg roads.
‘Next week will be 50 years ‘ 5-0 years ‘ since we bought 3-1/2 acres … ‘ Reed said. ‘We wanted a quiet, rural area near Corydon.’
She talked about the two churches and a parochial school near the proposed site, how Shiloh Road and Old S.R. 135 see ‘heavy traffic’ now and that the meeting appeared to be ‘just a formality’ regardless of how neighboring residents viewed the request to rezone the property from R-1a (single family/mobile home) to I-2 (heavy industry).
She also asked that the entrance be placed on new S.R. 135 rather than Old S.R. 135.
McBeth, who echoed what Reed said, referred to the intersection at Shiloh and Old S.R. 135 as ‘probably the busiest intersection in the county’ and called the four-way stop signs ‘useless.’
He cited that 10 to 12 school buses pass through that intersection daily and, he said, schoolchildren walk from the school to the church about once a week. He also objected to the noise and light pollution he anticipates from the new garage and opposes the installation of a septic system on the property, which, he claims, has a drainage issue, next to his property.
‘Why don’t they just move to the industrial park where (the county) own several properties?’ he asked.
Joy Wolfe commented that she moved 2-1/2 years ago from near the new Harrison County Hospital ‘to get away from lights’ to what she thought was a residential area.
Plan commission member Jim Heitkemper asked Kevin Russel, the county engineer, how difficult it would be to get approval from the Indiana Dept. of Transportation to locate the entrance off of S.R. 135.
When Russel said INDOT wouldn’t grant such a request, Heitkemper said, ‘You don’t get it if you don’t ask. I’d like a letter from the state turning us down, I guess.’
Jason Copperwaite, owner of Primavera and Associates who was representing the county, said the land was purchased after ‘an extensive search’ to relocate the landlocked garage that now sets on about four-plus acres.
He added he doesn’t mind ‘having a conversation’ with INDOT regarding the entrance.
In response to the comment about light pollution, Copperwaite said that, while there would be some, it wouldn’t be like at Walmart.
‘The county wants to be good neighbors,’ he said.
Russel noted, in response to McBeth’s comment, that he doesn’t believe the county owns any property in the Harrison County Business Park.
After Reed asked the plan commission why the neighboring property owners weren’t notified about the county’s intention to purchase the land, Eric Wise, the county planner, told her that the plan commission was not the group responsible for buying the land.
‘No one wants anything to move into their backyard,’ Heitkemper, who also is a county councilman, said. ‘If you’d been involved in (property) searches … like I have … maybe you’d understand why we bought this piece of property.’
Plan commissioner member Charlie Crawford, after saying how, as a 15-year member of the board, he has left numerous meetings in turmoil over decisions the board has made, moved to send the request to the county commissioners with a favorable recommendation. Victor McCauley seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
Another public hearing item received a favorable recommendation, with a 6-1 vote (Doug Sellers against), sending the request to rezone approximately 6-1/2 acres, from UF (urban fringe) to I-1a (light industry), located at the end of Valley Road in Corydon to the county commissioners.
The property is owned by Harrison County Golf LLC; Corydon attorney David Layson made the request on its behalf.
‘There is an existing building on this tract,’ as well as a residence, which, Layson said, would be ‘grandfathered’ in. The building would be used for truck-repair work, he said.
The new zone does not permit for any outside storage of equipment.
New Albany attorney John Kraft, representing Dr. Bruce and Joan Burton, who are adjoining property owners, made an objection to the request, which initially was made in June, but for a change to I-2.
‘The Town of Corydon was opposed to the rezoning of this property,’ Kraft said. ‘This is a land-use issue, not a special exception.’
He added that 85 percent of the parcel is located in a flood plain, it has no road frontage, with access by a 20-foot easement, and there are restricted covenants that apply to the property.
‘We’re dealing with safety issues,’ Kraft told the plan commission.
Layson said he didn’t know who would have the right to enforce the restrictive covenants.
Heitkemper said he thought the chances of the property flooding were ‘slim,’ and Harold Klinstiver said there are Harrison County roads that are only 20 feet wide.
Klinstiver made the motion for the favorable recommendation, which was seconded by Heitkemper.
The third public hearing of the night, Shelby County Farm Bureau Cooperative Association Inc., was met without opposition, and the request was given an unanimous favorable recommendation for a Planned Unit Development at the southwest corner of S.R. 135 and Wennings Road in Central Barren.
Shelby County Co-op plans to use the three-acre site as a propane storage facility, placing one above-ground tank initially within the next six months with room for two additional ones in perhaps two to three years.
No one spoke in opposition to the request.
Before the public hearing items, Amy Williams of Taylor Siefker Williams design group gave an overview of the comprehensive plan the Laconia Town Council plans to adopt, hopefully, in October. She will make a similar presentation Monday night to the Harrison County Commissioners.
‘This is what we’ve been working on over the last eight or nine months,’ Williams said, adding that there has been ‘a lot of community support’ behind the process. ‘We’ve had three steering committee meetings and two public meetings.’
The document Williams presented includes a mission statement, strategies, implementation steps, timelines, funding source information and responsible parties for the plan.
‘It looks like a lot of thought went into the plan,’ Larry Ott, chairman of the plan commission, said. ‘I look forward to reviewing it.’
The plan commission unanimously agreed to have a public hearing for the comprehensive plan at its Sept. 4 meeting.