KOSCIUSKO — The two main items of business during the Kosciusko Area Plan Commission meeting held today, Aug. 7, were both continued.
Blue Barn Berry Farm, 9139 N 300 E, Syracuse, was on the agenda to rezone 8.16 acres from a Residential District to an Agricultural District. Dan Richard, area planning director, explained that the ultimate goal, if approved, would be for the property to then go before the Kosciusko Board of Zoning Appeals to receive an exception for recreational commercial activity.
Attorney Jack Birch, representing Blue Barn Berry Farm, asked the board for a continuance because proper notices were not sent out to homeowners by the required date. “That burden is on my office, and me specifically,” said Birch.
Attorney Steve Snyder, representing three clients in the neighboring subdivision, spoke to the board about the case.
“Our biggest problem is there’s a zoning violation going in at this property at this time,” said Snyder. “What do we do about the continuing violation until we ultimately come to a resolution? In the meantime, my clients are the ones that are suffering.”
Birch argued that the property was not in violation and that the property owners were operating as they believed they were allowed to.
Richard clarified the allowed-use confusion by explaining that the topic of weddings was brought up in a previous meeting with the hearing officer. He continued by stating that normal procedure is to continue cases when the proper notification is not completed.
Several neighbors and representatives of Blue Barn Berry Farm were present at the meeting to share their thoughts on the case.
Resident John Gradle said, “This is tearing us (the neighborhood) apart. It’s never been our intention to shut anyone down … I just want everyone to understand, we the property owners, want to resolve this.”
Peggy Bucher, Blue Barn Berry Farm co-owner, said, “Our neighbors have always been considered first … We want nothing more than to work with them … We want to work with them but we want all honesty on the table.”
Board member Larry Coplen commented, “sounds to me that you guys can work something out.” Both parties were encouraged to talk to see if a resolution could be made. The case was continued.
The other case was a rezoning request made by Carey Realty Co., to rezone 17.63 acres of land along SR 15, south of CR 600N, from Industrial II to Industrial III.
Snyder, also involved in the second case, explained that the intended use for the property was a temporary ready-mix concrete plant. “It’s not an unusual industrial operation … to say that it would have a negative effect on a neighboring I-2 District is just not the case,” he said.
Coplen recused himself from the case and instead commented as an “interested party.” He argued that the approval would create a “definite potential hazard,” particularly when it comes to traffic on SR 15.
Chairman Lee Harmon noted that no other property along this SR 15 district is zoned as an Industrial III District, which could open up an “unanticipated problem down the road.”
The board voted to continue the case and requested that Snyder approach the tenant and see if they would consider placing a covenant on the land. A possible covenant could impose that once the concrete-mix plant is no longer in operation for a one-year period, that the land revert to zoned as Industrial II.
In other matters:
- Carl and Tammy Kendrick were approved to rezone a property on the south side of Union Street, west of SR 15. The property was previously an Agricultural District and is now zoned as an Agriculture II District. The plan is for the land to be used for a new subdivision in the future, like neighboring lots. This case will now go before the Kosciusko County Commissioners for final approval on Aug. 20.
- Debra Pilcher’s request was approved to rezone a property on the south side of CR 400N, east of EMS B1 Lane, Leesburg. The property, formerly the site of the Barbee Christian Camp, was rezoned from a Public Use District to an Agricultural District. The plan is this land could be used as a site for a private school or boat-in worship services. This case will now go before the County Commissioners for final approval on Aug. 20.
- The next APC meeting will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, at the Kosciusko County Courthouse.