By Lauren Zeugner
WARSAW — After being an educator for many years, Lee Harman of Warsaw continues to educate the public as president of the Kosciusko County Board of Zoning Appeals. He has served on the BZA for the last 10 years.
Harman, a Warsaw native, attended Indiana Central University, now the University of Indianapolis, to study education and came back to teach. His first job as principal was in Churbusco. He returned to Warsaw to be principal at Washington Elementary School.
Eventually he entered the administrative side of education, retiring as superintendent of Warsaw Community Schools.
After retiring, he taught education leadership at Ball State University before retiring a second time. Then he taught at Grace College for three years before retiring a third time.
He said being an elementary school principal was his favorite job. “Having a bad day, the best tonic was being with the kids,” he said.
Harman said as a member of the BZA the most challenging aspect is preserving agricultural land in the county when there’s a need for housing. “It’s troubled me that we’re nibbling away at that,” he said.
As president, one of Harman’s responsibilities is running the meeting, which involves hearing numerous requests for variances and exceptions for home improvement projects around the county. Along with hearing the requests, BZA members also hear those who are remonstrating against those requests.
“We want to make people feel welcome to express their opinions and what their concerns are. … At least they have the right to tell us what they think,” he said. Harman noted most people don’t understand the need for planning by the county or their municipality. “It really protects the common good,” he said.
Harman said he and the other board of zoning members are constantly learning, especially now with the installation of sewer systems due to increased density around the lakes. Harman credited Plan Commission Director Dan Richards with doing “a really good job, an outstanding job,” at keeping the BZA members informed.
And Harman believes the BZA allows for fairness. “I think we have a really good board. You have Rex Robinson, Randy (Cox), Kevin (McSherry) and Charlotte (Siegfried). They know so many places. Those people are good thinkers with common sense,” he said. “If we’re not comfortable with a case, we’ll ask for a continuance and get more information.”
Other challenges the BZA deal with are floodplain issues that need to be sorted out and the fact people aren’t as aware of the rules and regulations when it comes to building and home improvement projects.
“It’s interesting work and it gives me a sense of purpose and a way to contribute,” he said.
Harmon and his wife, Sue, have three children and five grandchildren.