WARSAW — During the Kosciusko County Area Plan Commission held this afternoon, Wednesday, Sept. 4, The Blue Barn Berry Farm made it through one of its hurdles to continue operating as an event venue.
The Blue Barn Berry Farm case is a petition to rezone 8.16 acres from a Residential District to an Agricultural District. Blue Barn Berry Farm is located at 9139 N 300 E, Syracuse.
Before opening up the meeting to public discussion, Area Planning Director Dan Richards urged the board members to keep the discussion suited to the questions that the board specifically had to consider, “which is is this ground suited for agricultural zoning versus the residential that it is now … Stay focused on what this petition is about.” Despite this request, the public comment portion consisted of around an hour of discussion.
Attorney Jack Birch, representing Blue Barn Berry Farm, argued that the surrounding land is primarily agricultural and that the Agricultural Zoning would be the correct zoning for the business operation.
“I think what we are proposing to use there now will be less of an intense use overall than if you put in a bunch of houses,” said Birch. “I think that from the standpoint of responsible growth and development, it goes right along with the process of where we planned to have development and not simply putting development where it exists. This is a much better zoning designation for this property based on its historical use and what we intend for those areas to be developed into in the future.”
Chris Scheeren, of Blue Barn Berry Farm, gave the commissioners a presentation regarding the history of the land use and the business. According to Scheeren, 60% of the property is currently used for agricultural purposes and 100% of the property focuses on agricultural and agritourism.
Attorney Steve Snyder, representing three sets of property owners opposed to the rezoning, argued that the property currently qualifies as a commercial enterprise and does not fit in with the area. He brought along a large booklet of information, including photographs of the event center, for the board to look through during his argument.
“It’s been clear to everyone who has resided there for over 30 years now that the intent of this plat was the development of a residential subdivision surrounding a private ski lake … There’s no problem with a u-pick berry farm on the other side of this lake. But this truly is an event center and a commercial enterprise.”
After a lengthy discussion back and forth, the board closed the meeting to public comment to discuss the request amongst themselves.
Chairman Lee Harman suggested that the best course of action may be to approve the request, which would allow the Kosciusko County Board of Zoning Appeals to review the case further before the property could receive an exception to continue operating.
The board ended up unanimously approving the request. The case will now go before the Kosciusko County Commissioners on Tuesday, Sept. 17. If approved there, it’s expected the Blue Barn Berry Farm would then go before the BZA to receive an exception for recreational commercial activity.
In other news:
- John and Dora Miller were approved to rezone 8 acres from an Agricultural District to an Agricultural II District. The property is on the north side of CR 1350N, west of CR 950W in Nappanee. A condition was placed on the approval that the property would only have one split off, as the landowner wishes to give his daughter a plat to build a residence on.
- The board continued the Carey Realty petition to rezone 17.63 acres from an Industrial II District to an Industrial III District. The property is on the east side of SR 15, south of CR 600N, Leesburg. Instead, the petitioners are seeking a temporary use approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals in the hopes that for a temporary ready-mix concrete plant can be placed on the property.
- The Crows Nest Subdivision, Syracuse, was approved for a final re-plat consisting of a 14-plot residential area. The approval was subject to letters of approval from the Turkey Creek Regional Sewer District and the Kosciusko County Highway Department.
- The board approved a right-of-way vacation located off of Yellow Lake in Claypool.