WARSAW — The Kosciusko County Area Plan Commission recommended denial of a rezoning request during the meeting held Wednesday, May 5.
Edd Allen requested to rezone a tract of land on the south side of Mill Street, southwest of US 30, in Pierceton from residential to commercial.
Engineer Andrew Rossell of AR Engineering of Kalamazoo, Mich., represented the request. The exact name of the business was not shared, but this firm has worked with local Dollar General developments and these previous developments were referred to several times during the meeting.
This request was continued from last month’s meeting because no one was present to represent the case. But, concerns were voiced regarding the traffic coming off of US 30 and drainage issues in the area being worsened.
It was requested that a traffic study and a drainage plan be provided before the board could move forward. Allen explained that he talked with a representative at INDOT but that a traffic study was not conducted. He also said that there had been talks with the Town of Pierceton regarding the town bringing storm sewer to the address, but no real plan was created.
Board members had many concerns with the request. There were concerns regarding traffic stacking occurring on Mill Street and causing back-ups onto US 30. There were also concerns with the development worsening drainage in the area and that the property may be too small to create a drainage retention area large enough to address the issue.
Allen said that official studies aren’t traditionally conducted until the rezoning is approved as they can be costly.
“To me, it smells bad,” said Chairman Lee Harman. “I’m not in favor of approving something that may really stink later on.”
With those concerns, the board voted unanimously to provide a recommendation of denial. This recommendation will go before the Pierceton Town Council at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 10.
Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rob Parker and Launchpad Director Sherry Searles then discussed issues with the current childcare desert to the board. The two requested that existing ordinances be reviewed to see if changes could be made to help decrease the current childcare issues.
Searles stated that currently there is only one childcare seat for every three children that need a seat in Kosciusko County. The county’s population needs 3,000 childcare spots but only 1,200 exist. Searles stated that this has a ripple effect on the local businesses that are attempting to attract and retain employees.
According to state regulations, home childcare facilities are able to operate without a resident living in the home. Meaning the residential building can be used solely as a childcare property. These facilities would still need to be approved by the state and subject to state regulations and inspections. But, Kosciusko County ordinances do not allow this to occur.
Neighboring counties, including Marshall County, have adjusted their ordinances to allow childcare homes like this to exist. Parker stated that there are local businesses in Kosciusko County that want to set up a solution like this, but are currently unable to due to the ordinances. Recently, Instrumental Machine and Development was denied a request to do this by the Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals.
Board member Bob Conley expressed concerns with operating what he called a “commercial entity” in a residential industry. While Harman stated that he understood the barriers to childcare and wanted to look into possible options.
In the end, the board gave permission to look into some ways to possibly revise the current ordinances and open doors for childcare homes like this. Area Plan Director Dan Richard stated that this may including defining these businesses, which could help with variance approvals.
In other news, the board:
- Recommended approval for an amendment to the Ag Disclaimer ordinance. This will require a disclaimer to be signed when constructing or altering/converting a building into a residence in an agricultural district. This will help ensure that homeowners are aware of the sights, smells, noises and other occurrences that may happen in an agricultural district. This recommendation will go before the Kosciusko County Board of Commissioners.
- Continued a preliminary plat approval request made by Robert and Phyllis Swanson, 6008 W. Old Road 30, Warsaw. This creates an Agirucultural II subdivision on a 1.7-acre tract of ground.
- Continued a request to vacate part of D50 Lane on Dewart Lake so that the Highway Department could further study the request.