SYRACUSE — One simple question about who put up the blank billboard next to Mud Lake off Cornelius and Pickwick roads has led to a mystery. Four billboards, one empty, gently curve around a gravel area in a highly traveled area to and from Lake Wawasee.
The short answer is no one seems to know who put up the blank sign. No permit for it was filed with the Kosciusko County Area Planning Commission according to Matt Sandy, assistant planner and floodplain administrator.
However, a complaint about the sign was received by the APC from Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation. WACF Executive Director Heather Harwood filed the complaint after getting more than one inquiry regarding the billboards since they are adjacent to WACF property. The blank one had appeared about a year ago in some estimates.
But wait, there is a longer story. Sandy reported, “The property seems to be ‘no man’s land.’” There is no recorded owner. It is adjoined by CSX railroad property and WACF property, Pickwick Road and water.
Three of the billboards in question have owners. The owners have recently received notices from the county about the matter as none have permits on file.
The one that has a sign for Wawasee Boat Co. is owned by Vandaco Signs, Argos. Doug Anderson, owner of Wawasee Boat Co., commented, “We pay them to lease the sign. I checked with Vandaco and that sign has been there since 1959.” Sandy subsequently sent a notice to Vandaco as well.
Both RE/MAX Partners and Integrity Real Estate lay claim to a billboard formerly owned by the late Phil Beer when he had Beer Realtors Inc. It is unknown whether Beer may have owned two billboards and each company has one.
One of the RE/MAX Partners owners Melody Cusick noted, “We are applying for a permit and to be grandfathered in as our billboard has been standing a long time.” The grandfather clause applies because Turkey Creek Township was not part of the Kosciusko County APC for many years. The property in question is not in the town limits of Syracuse.
While studying aerial photos taken since 1976 of the area to determine what signs were present when, Sandy feels the two real estate firm billboards have been moved, which might affect their being able to use the grandfather clause.
That is where things stand now and all because someone wanted to know about the blank billboard. Stay tuned as the tale continues.