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BZA ends year approving variance requests, special exception

The Harrison County Board of Zoning Appeals wrapped up 2018 by approving four variances and a special exception at its meeting Thursday night.
The special exception was for Cindy Richey for property on the north side of S.R. 211 between Glass Sand Hill Road and S.R. 111. Richey intends to use the property, located in Posey Township, for a personal campsite, at least in the near future.
Richey said eventually she would like to build a house on the property, which includes an abandoned quarry.
‘I think once we clear on some trees, we’ll have a nice view of the (Ohio) River,’ she said, adding she wants to ‘improve’ the property but keep it as natural as possible. ‘That’s our game plan.’
No one else in the audience spoke about the docket item, which was passed 5-0 with the stipulation a camper on the property would have to be moved every 180 days and the site could not be rented.
The first variance request was to reduce the required rear-yard setback for property on the south side of Cliff Road in Blue River Township.
Gregory Dewitt, who owns the property with his wife, Vickie L. Raney-Dewitt, said his parents had a camp there when he was a child but sold it in 1973.
‘It’s a very special place,’ he said.
The Dewitts demolished three dilapidated structures on the property and want to build a cabin. Due to the terrain, they need a variance so they can place the 15- by 44-foot structure along Blue River.
‘I want to be a good neighbor and follow the rules,’ Gregory Dewitt said.
‘This property is kind of strange,’ Eric Wise, the county’s planner, said. ‘It really doesn’t have any road frontage … Unless there’s some hidden easement, they could put (the cabin) right on that driveway.’
BZA member Don Smith sought, and received, confirmation from Wise that the county highway department maintains Cliff Road to where the Dewitts’ property starts.
Larry Foster, whose property borders the Dewitts’, asked about safety, specifically with regard to a fire, if the Dewitts are allowed to build a cabin so close to the property line and if he decided to do the same on his land.
‘Sounds like it would be too close,’ he said.
Foster was told he would have to get a variance before he could do that.
‘What do you do with that field now’ that adjoins the Dewitts’ property?, asked Smith.
Foster said he bush hogs it but has leased it for soybeans.
‘Is there a fence there now?’ asked Doug Sellers, who chairs the BZA.
Foster said there’s an old barbed-wire fence.
‘I would like to work it out with him … ‘ Foster said of Dewitt. ‘He seems like a nice guy … ‘
After a bit more discussion, a motion was made by Jim Minter and seconded by Smith to approve the variance, stipulating the cabin could be constructed no closer than 15 feet to the property line.
Bradly and Megan Rothrock were granted a variance to reduce the required side-yard setback for their property in the 3000 block of Dixie Road in south Harrison Township.
The couple plans to build a house where a modular once was located. To place the house there would require it be a ‘little closer’ to the property line, Wise said.
When asked about a driveway, Bradly said he would share with his neighbor, who happens to be his grandfather.
The BZA recommended he get a written agreement, telling of a similar situation where a grandparent decided not to allow the grandchild to use a driveway.
With no one else speaking about the request, Smith made a motion, which was seconded by Maynard Crawford, to allow the variance. The motion passed 5-0.
Alice and Ron Akers were approved for a variance that reduces lot frontage for property in the 9000 block of Corydon-Ramsey Road in Blue River Township. The couple purchased 13 acres without road frontage.
‘They want to cut off an existing house on an acre and create a 10-foot easement,’ Wise said.
Alice Akers said neighbors initially ‘freaked out’ when notice of the hearing was posted, thinking a subdivision was planned.
‘We have no plans to split the property,’ she said.
Without any other commenters, the BZA approved the request by a 5-0 vote, stipulating there could only be one residence on the property.
Howell Investment Group Inc. received a variance, by a 5-0 vote, to create a lot with less than one acre. The property is in the 4000 block of Old Highway 135 in Harrison Township.
The company intends to renovate an existing house on the property.
‘Let me make sure I got this right,’ Smith said. ‘Someone split the property, and the house is in foreclosure. (Howell) bought it without knowing it wasn’t one acre.’
‘Typically, we require an acre,’ Sellers said. ‘This docket is giving me heartburn.’
Smith, in making a motion to grant the variance, said he was doing so based on the fact that Howell Investment didn’t create the problem and should have had a ‘reasonable expectation’ that it was a legal lot since there was a house on the property and he was given a septic permit. The motion was seconded by Elmer Kidd.
The only other docket item, for a special exception to permit a personal campsite in the 8000 block of Dukes Road in Spencer Township, was tabled again as the applicant, Robin Dear, was not in attendance.
The Board of Zoning Appeals’ next meeting will be Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in Corydon.