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County approves zone change for highway garage

Before property zoning changes become official, the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission has to send them to the Harrison County Board of Commissioners to approve or deny. So when the plan commission sends a zoning change requested by the county commissioners to the county commissioners, there isn’t much about doubt whether it’ll be approved.
That was the case Monday night, when the commissioners approved the plan commission’s favorable recommendation for a zone change for the future highway department garage property.
The change, from residential (R-1, which allows single-family and mobile homes) to heavy industry (I-2), was approved 2-0 with commissioners Kenny Saulman and George Ethridge voting in favor (Commissioner Jim Klinstiver was absent).
Before the vote was taken, Saulman asked if anyone in the audience wanted to speak about the issue. No one did, although a group of residents who live nearby the former Windell property voiced their opposition at the plan commission meeting earlier this month.
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. The opponents feared noise and light pollution from county vehicles and buildings, as well as the increased traffic of heavy-duty trucks.
The current facility, in the Harrison County Business Park north of Corydon, lacks the space needed to adequately and efficiently perform the department’s duties, officials said.
It also has issues such as drainage into a sinkhole and diesel fumes in close quarters with no exhaust system. The department’s main storage, including salt, is outside with no protection from the elements.
At a previous meeting, Harrison County Engineer Kevin Russel said a new garage is something the county has been working toward for 15 years.
Paul Primavera and Associates have been contracted to provide the engineering work for the project.
The county’s goal is to have a salt dome or building constructed at the new site by the end of the year.
The county plans to model its garage after Perry County and Huntingburg garages.
The commissioners also approved a zone change for property at the end of Valley Road in Corydon to I-1a (light industry). The property, owned by Harrison County Golf LLC, was zoned as urban fringe.
In other business, the board approved changing two intersections to three-way stops. One at Wiseman and Shiloh roads. Right now, Wiseman Road traffic stops and Shiloh Road is the through road. Russel said the intersection is on top of a hill and there’s a severe dip to the north.
The other three-way stop is the Maple and Cedar streets intersection in Oak Park subdivision. Cedar Street is currently a through road, and residents have had near misses with driveway entry and exit from oncoming cars.
‘I don’t think there’s a negative,’ Commissioner George Ethridge said of the changes.
The board also heard a presentation about the comprehensive plan for the Town of Laconia and will be asked to vote to approve the plan ‘ which includes enhancements around the town square area, housing, keeping the rural character and history and other future plans ‘ at a meeting in September.
‘This town is really excited,’ Amy Williams, an associate with Taylor Siefker Williams design group, said. ‘Laconia has some great things that they can really get going.’
Williams said each meeting about the plan has drawn at least 30 people. Impressive, she said, for a town of about 50.
The plan will serve as a foundation for land-use decisions for the next 20 or so years. It is being developed with a $40,000 grant from the Community Development Block Grant program (the town was required to provide $4,445 for a match).
The Laconia Town Council began working on the project in December.
The next meeting of the board of commissioners will be Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 8:30 a.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon (moved from Monday because of Labor Day).