When does the public have the right to use a lake when property owners pay taxes on their lakefront property? It was a debate that ensued at great lengths at this morning’s regular meeting of the Kosciusko County Commissioners.
The debate centered on the fact that three property owners petitioned to vacate two public rights of way on the southwest corner of Winona Lake, known as Winona Beach. Steve Snyder, the attorney representing the petitioners, said the property was platted in the 1920s. There have been no other vacations, others than alleys, he said, except a portion of property on the south end of lake. “This is the only one to vacate on a lakefront,” Snyder related.
Kosciusko County Area Planning Commission unanimously voted to deny the vacation request at its Oct. 2 meeting. Snyder pointed out that no one opposed the vacation at the APC meeting, except the board.
“There’s no public use. It has never been used other than by lakefront owners,” Snyder said, who added that the lots are taxed as lakefront property.
Dan Richard, area planning director, disagreed that no one uses the public access. Also, two men at Tuesday’s meeting said it is used by the public. At issue is a promenade along the lake, which is used by the public. The public rights of way are used to get to the promenade.
Two of the petitioners, Nick Chapman and Adam Finley, said they want to vacate for several reasons. Chapman, who wants to be a good neighbor, wishes to build a house and, he said, “I’m trying to prevent problems in the future if someone moves in.”
Rex Reed owns property to the north and said he wants to see at least one of the roads kept open for drainage purposes. Another man, who owns two lots, agreed adding, “We need that drainage, especially when it rains or the roads get flooded.”
Citing it as “a challenge,” two of the commissioners tabled the decision until its Nov. 19 meeting. This will give the board time to do research on the property taxes and road issues.
In other matters, a petition to rezone property in Nappanee from agriculture to agriculture II was approved. Lonnie and Verba Hochstetler’s land is just south of CR 1350 North and they want to rezone 7.7 acres.
In other news:
- Indiana Association of Counties gave a $1,000 scholarship to Tyler Kissinger, a high school student who wishes to pursue a fine arts degree in woodworking. His father, Mike Kissinger, who works for the county, accepted the check on his son’s behalf.
- The county highway department was approved to get quotes for a new compact excavator. On Nov. 4, the board will choose accept a quote from one of the bids. Also, the board signed a lease agreement for a semi trailer.
- Crystal Lake Road in Warsaw will be closed for a week, starting Oct. 28, for a NIPSCO project.
- Larry Coplen was appointed to serve on the county health department’s board.
The next meeting is at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4. Commissioners are president Ron Truex, Bob Conley and Brad Jackson.