By Lasca Randels
LEESBURG – About 20 residents attended the Leesburg Town Council meeting Monday, Jan. 11, with many voicing concerns over council’s recent decision to join the Kosciusko County Area Plan Commission.
Council members made the announcement during a special meeting held Dec. 28, 2020.
“The problem we have is that with the way the legal system has manipulated the law, we can’t do anything for you,” said council member Doug Jones. “If we don’t do something, people are going to do what they want and we won’t be able to stop them. We’re trying to give you guys a voice by doing this.”
Tom Moore, council president, said the town had three options, which were: do nothing, join the existing county APC or go through the legal process to create their own plan committee, which would require nine members.
Several in attendance were annoyed that they did not receive notification about the special meeting. Moore said the information was printed in newspapers and posted on the town website. Others expressed concern about how joining the APC will affect issues such as home businesses and home repair projects.
Leesburg resident Amanda Bibler said she had previously offered to sit on a volunteer board so that the town would not have to join the county APC.
“Several people in town would have been able to sit on the board voluntarily without being paid,” Bibler said.
Council members pointed out that legal fees would still be involved in creating their own plan commission. Leesburg residents already pay for the county’s zoning services through property taxes.
APC Director Dan Richard was in attendance to answer questions and provide direction as to how the APC operates. Richard also said the town may opt-out of the APC contract at any time.
Council suggested that all Maple Leaf property, which is currently split, be zoned commercial. The actual property the business is located on is zoned commercial; however, Maple Leaf also owns the property the ballfields sit on.
“They allow the youth league to use that property, which is zoned public use,” Jones said. “If at some point they decided they wanted to take that back to start doing commercial stuff on it, we decided we shouldn’t make them go through the process just because they’re being nice to the youth league, so we’ve opted to make this all commercial now. Because it’s just out of the goodness of their heart that they’re…they don’t charge the youth league to use that property and they pay all the electricity and everything.”
Toward the end of the meeting, it was suggested that one resident could possibly be designated to be in charge of emailing all residents alerting them about special meetings in the future to improve communication between council and residents.
In another matter, a resident commented that he hopes everyone in town and on the council realizes what a great job Leesburg Street Commissioner Craig Charlton does for the town. This was met with an enthusiastic round of applause from those in attendance and Moore responding, “Yes, we do.”
Election of officers was held, with Tom Moore elected as the new council president and Christina Archer elected vice-president.
In other news, the town would like everyone to be aware of the following public policies:
- No parking on any street between 3-5 a.m.
- No burning
- Please be mindful of what you flush
- Speed limits in town are 25 mph
- The next regular meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8.