Milford and land immediately north of it took up a considerable amount of the agenda of the Kosciusko County Area Planning Commission during its regular monthly meeting Wednesday.
The Milford Redevelopment Commission wants to have a tract of land just north of CR 1300 North and east of Old SR 15 declared a tax increment financing district. The tract is in excess of 200 acres and is the same land considered several years ago for an ethanol plant. It is presently zoned I-3, or heavy industrial.
The redevelopment commission approved a resolution at its Nov. 1 meeting to start the process of establishing a TIF district. Richard Helm, an attorney representing the town of Milford, said as part of the state statutes governing TIF districts the county area planning commission must also approve a resolution saying the TIF district is compatible with the land’s current zoning.
Helm said a TIF district is a tool used to bring in development, which in this case would be industrial. Tax monies are collected and used to help pay for needed infrastructure work. “It will also help with marketing the land and we intend to market it for industrial use,” he said.
Helm noted the next step in the process is to ask the Milford Town Council to pass a resolution in support of the TIF district, then the redevelopment commission will hold a public hearing and make a final decision. “We anticipate that to happen by early December,” he said about the public hearing.
Manny Espinoza of the APC asked if water and sewer services will be available. Helm said the purchaser of the land will tell what they need and it will be built as requested.
Dan Brown, president of the Milford Redevelopment Commission, said establishing a TIF district is part of an ongoing 18-month effort. He noted the tract has been identified by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation as one of a few “mega sites” available for industrial use in the entire state. “It has dual rail access and an agreement has been reached where land could be provided for a new well field for the town,” he added.
Doug Ruch, Milford Town Council president, said the town is in favor of the TIF district because it has the potential to bring new jobs and expand the tax base.
The APC unanimously approved the resolution.
Also on the agenda, the APC considered roadway vacations connected to property on the other side of the CSX railroad tracks to the north and east of Old SR 15. This property has been identified as a potential site for an Ohio-based agricultural cooperative that is a grain storage, processing and marketing company to build a new plant.
Dan Richard, area planning director, said one road vacation would involve CR 1350 North, a gravel road just north of the CSX railroad tracks, from CR 100 East to Old SR 15. The other vacation would be Old SR 15 from CR 1350 North north to CR 1400 North, also the county line road.
Richard said a group, not identified by a specific name, is planning to present a proposal to develop interior rail lines connected to both existing nearby railroad tracks and needs the road vacations so vehicle traffic would not impede railway operations. He added they also plan to request the land be rezoned from agricultural to I-3 at the Dec. 5 APC meeting.
The rail loop would begin to the west of Old SR 15 and would essentially make a complete loop of the property for the potential company site. Richard noted there is a house along the west side of Old SR 15 at the intersection with 1350 North that would be purchased by the group.
Kevin McSherry, APC member, suggested approving the roadway vacations should be done with the condition the house and surrounding property is purchased otherwise the house would become landlocked.
Dick Kemper, also of the APC, said he believes the proposal is a good idea but is happening on very short notice and too fast. “Aren’t we kind of putting the cart before the horse here?” he asked. Lee Harman, APC, agreed with Kemper.
The APC did recommend approval of the roadway vacations but with the conditions the house and property are purchased and also any additional information or feedback received from the county highway department, EMS and other agencies is presented to the county commissioners.
The county commissioners will consider the road vacations at their 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20, meeting in the old courtroom of the county courthouse.
Though it may appear the grain company has made a decision to choose Milford, no final decision has been made. The company wants to have as much in place as possible if it does choose Milford.
In other business, Richard gave a report to the APC about some violations in the Candlewood Estates subdivision southeast of Warsaw at the intersection of Packerton Road and CR 400 South.
Candlewood Estates was given preliminary plat approval 12 years ago, Richard said, but lots have been slow to sell and some of the interior roads are not completed. Someone came to the area planning office seeking a building permit to have an oversized accessory building built within the subdivision plat property.
A permit was issued, but a stop work order was later issued when it was learned the accessory building is located on 13 acres within the plat that had been sold to a separate owner. Pulling the 13 acres out creates problems since the interior roads are no longer compliant with county ordinance requirements. And selling the land creates a legal concern because the number of allowed sell offs of tracts of land may have been exceeded.
Richard said the issues are overlapping and confusing, but the contractor was given a Nov. 15 deadline to resubmit a preliminary plat and is aware violations have occurred. County subdivision plats require public hearings before the APC.
APC meetings are held at 1 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month in the old courtroom of the county courthouse, Warsaw.