Portion of Amazon property rezoned
By Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
A change of zone request had stirred up debate between some Lanesville residents, the Harrison County Plan Commission and the Harrison County Board of Commissioners at the recent commissioners’ meeting Monday morning.
A request from Amazon to change a portion of the northern area of their land at the Lanesville Interstate 64 interchange from R3 to Planned Employment Center was sent to the plan commission, which had a public hearing on the matter Dec. 2. The plan commission forwarded the request on the commissioners with no recommendation on whether to approve this request as the seven members who serve on the plan commission could not come to an agreement on the issue.
Larry Ott, a plan commission member and a nearby resident to the Amazon facility, addressed the county commissioners in hopes to sway them to vote against the zone change. He shared that while he is very excited about the economic development that Amazon will bring to the county, he is wary that allowing this section of their property to change zones will bring disruption to residents.
He explained that Amazon committed to not developing the area if it remains residential, and that keeping it zoned as such would allow a buffer between the work being done there and residential homes. If the commissioners change the zone to PEC, he said, a buffer area may not be the case.
“I believe you allow people to do what they want to do with their property as long as it does not unreasonably infringe upon neighbors,” Ott said. “ I just don’t know why they would want to transform this area to PEC when there is plenty of PEC zoning around it on other areas of the property they could use.”
Commissioner Jim Heitkemper said he has spent countless hours researching this matter, and Commissioner Nelson Stepro, who attended the plan commission’s public hearing, said he has done the same. Commission chair Charlie Crawford was not in attendance at the meeting to speak on the issue.
Another Lanesville resident also spoke up at the meeting sharing that he agreed with Ott that the zone should remain the same.
However, Stepro explained he had weighed both sides of opinions and believed that changing the zone was the best step moving forward.
“We told the Amazon people what we were going to do at one time, and I am going to stick with that,” Stepro said. “That is to turn it back to PEC, and I would make a motion to do so.”
Heitkemper seconded the motion, which passed 2-0.
In other business, county engineer Kevin Russel shared with the commissioners that he had been approached by consultants from Norfolk Southern, the railway company, to gauge interest the county may have in closing some railroad crossings in the area and updating some safety features in others.
Russel said he had spoken to each commissioner prior to the meeting and all agreed this could be a good decision.
Russel said he worked with Norfolk Southern to create a resolution to close crossings on Crosby Road and Wetzel Drive, both in the Depauw area, and they would improve the safety features of the active warning devices at Main Street and Day Lane, both at Milltown.
Norfolk Southern will be working with the Indiana Dept. of Transportation to complete these tasks, which will be at no cost to the county.
However, Russel was not requesting action from the commissioners just yet, as he wanted time to discuss the matter with county emergency services, the fire departments and the sheriff’s department to get their approvals on the issue, after which he plans to return to the commissioners for approval.
He also explained to the commissioners that portions of Corydon-New Middletown Road has some deterioration by Country Club Road so he is looking into costs for cement stabilization.
“I think it’s a project we need to make plans to do next spring because it is a highly traveled road,” Russel said. “Sometime over the next month we can hopefully make a decision on that.”
Also, after receiving approval from attorney Chris Byrd that the contract was correct, the commissioners unanimously approved a motion to sign the INDOT LPA contract for bridge inspections that will take place during the next four years.
The commissioners will meet again on Monday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m. at the government center in Corydon.