A roadway vacation petition generating more than 100 signatures of remonstrance against it was recommended for disapproval by the Kosciusko County Area Planning Commission during its regular monthly meeting Sept. 5 in Warsaw. It was the APC’s first meeting since July because there was no agenda to consider in August.
The petition is for the Farver family to have a 30 x 116 foot right of way vacated on property originally platted in the Highland View Gardens subdivision at Lake Wawasee. The right of way leads to the water’s edge. Nearby roads include Elwood Avenue and Louie Street.
Steve Snyder, attorney representing the Farvers, said the right of way is technically for the public, though the county has never maintained or improved it. He noted nearby property owners have always maintained it and some have invested their own money to improve it.
Snyder asked the APC to consider either vacating the right of way or at least narrowing it to limit to pedestrian traffic only. “We are concerned about the potential of vehicular traffic,” he said.
There was plenty of remonstrance against the petition, though. Dan Richard, area planning director, said the planning office had received as many as 70 letters with more than 100 signatures of people against the vacation. Jack Birch, an attorney representing a nearby property owner, said the right of way has been used to access the lake in the past and should be maintained the way it was originally designed.
Concern from a firefighting perspective was also expressed. Kevin McSherry, APC member and also a fireman, said when roadways are vacated firemen often have to deal with privacy fences, boat storage facilities and other obstacles to safely access areas to fight fires. Mickey Scott, Turkey Creek Fire Territory chief, had also expressed concerns through a letter about there being enough room to back a fire truck in and out.
Other remonstrators spoke at the meeting and indicated they don’t want to see access to the lake restricted for their children or grandchildren to go fishing, for example.
In rebuttal, Snyder said he is simply trying to protect the property value of his client. He said he is flexible as far as the amount of roadway to be vacated. He also noted several people are protesting against a petition they apparently have little or no reason to be concerned about.
But ultimately the APC, seeing the overwhelming remonstrance against the petition, unanimously recommended not approving the vacation. Larry Coplen was the only board member not present. County commissioners will consider the petition at their Sept. 25 meeting.
In other business, the APC voted to continue a rezoning petition for Mark Dillon until the Oct. 3 meeting. Dillon is asking for approximately 1 acre of land to be rezoned from residential to commercial at the intersection of CR 350N and SR 13 in Tippecanoe Township.
A business has operated at the location since 1951 and has been granted an exception by the county board of zoning appeals. Richard noted there have been several BZA hearings through the years. “It was essentially converted from a residence to a bait shop,” he said, though the business is more than a bait shop now.
Dillon said he wants to enlarge an existing porch among other things. He is also on the agenda for the Sept. 11 county BZA meeting and the petition says he also wants to build an addition to the rear of the building, offer boat rentals, install a drive through and redo an existing sign.
A shooting range is a possibility in the future, but Dillon noted it depends on whether or not he is able to purchase adjoining property. “It (shooting range) is not set in stone yet,” he said.
Richard advised Dillon to wait and see what the BZA decides before requesting the property be rezoned. Richard noted Dillon would likely be in a better position to keep working with the BZA than to have the property rezoned to commercial.
Chuck Haffner, APC chairman, said rezoning the property “opens it up to a lot of uses we might not be in favor of,” but at the same time the APC does not want to make it too difficult for Dillon to operate his business.
There were no remonstrators for or against Dillon’s petition.
Also on the agenda, the APC recommended approval for a petition by Mark Anderson to have a 16.5 feet wide alley vacated in the small community of Wooster. The alley is located in the Wooster Heights subdivision.
Anderson uses the alley as a private drive. There were no remonstrators against the petition and it will be considered by the county commissioners Sept. 25.
In other business, approval was recommended to amend a portion of the zoning ordinance dealing with performance standards. A sentence will be added to section 3.26 saying those standards will not apply to normal agriculture practices in any zoning district in the county.
County commissioners will consider the amendment at their Sept. 25 meeting.