County Plan Commission Approves Rezoning Despite Remonstrator

Kosciusko County Courthouse.

Kosciusko County Area Plan Commission on Wednesday approved Scott Anderson’s request to rezone his property on the south side of CR 700N, 1,375 feet west of CR 300E in Plain Township, from agricultural to agricultural 2.

He plans to split the 4.4 acres in two lots, retain his house and build another house on the other half.

At the February meeting, several neighbors spoke against Anderson’s plans, citing the county’s own zoning preference of only allowing three splits from one big parcel. Anderson’s property is the result of a 2013 split.

An Ag 2 designation allows property divisions as small as 1 acre. The commissioners tabled the request to hear from the area residents.

In the meantime, Anderson visited with his neighbors, laying out his plan for one house on the new lot and a guarantee that the deed would carry a restriction against further divisions.

Nearby property owner Max Deatsman wasn’t convinced though, reminding the board members of their own three-split policy limit.

“You’re not protecting agriculture one bit,” he said. “We already get phone calls about practices. The Clunette Elevator gets even more calls. It gets ridiculous sometimes. The more city people move out here, with no ties, no understanding of agriculture, the more calls we’ll get.

“You set up the three-split years ago and it took a lot of time. You should respect that.”

Plan Director Dan Richard said people sign disclaimers recognizing they’re moving to an agricultural area.

“That doesn’t eliminate phone calls though,” Richard said.

Deatsman said he would direct his next calls of complaint to the planning office.

The county commissioners will make the final decision at their March 17 meeting.

David Caswell’s petition for preliminary plat approval for two lots in an agricultural 2 subdivision on a 20-acre tract of land was approved. The property is on the south side of CR 200S, west of CR 600W, in Harrison Township.

The rolling ground there has been pasture for many years and plans call for two 9.9-acre lots, each with a single-family dwelling.

Brian Erne’s petition for preliminary plat with four lots in Grassy Creek Haven, an agricultural 2 subdivision, was approved pending review of the drainage situation there. The property is on the south side of CR 450N, north of Old Shoe Lake Road, in Tippecanoe Township.

Access to the lots will be by an interior road.

Andy Beerman appeared on behalf of Wawasee Community School’s petition to rezone ground from an industrial 2 district to a public use district. The property is on the west side of Sycamore Street, 97 feet south of Pickwick Drive, in Turkey Creek Township. Beerman said the district’s administrative offices will be moved to this location. The petition was approved.

The commissioners gave a final plat approval to replat lot 7 in White Manor Estates in Wayne Township, into two lots, now a smaller lot 7 and outlot 1, as requested by FFS Lift. Originally heard at the Feb. 3 meeting, neighbors were concerned that Daniel Fussel, who owns a large property along Pierceton Road and who will undoubtedly buy outlot 1, was planning to operate a business on the property.

Richard said Fussel’s plans were revealed in a recent telephone conversation. Fussel is concreting the dirt floor of the barns for his vehicle and boat collection. He has no plans to start an at-home business.

Also given final approved was Paul Reith’s request to replat lot 49 in the Deeds Creek Manor residential subdivision in Wayne Township. The redraw makes the drainage easement smaller, allowing for a bigger building site.

The petition was first heard at the Feb. 3 meeting.

Assistant Planner Matt Sandy asked the Plan Commission to write state representatives to vote against SB100. Sandy said the legislation allows non-conforming structures destroyed by natural causes to be replaced in a non-conforming manner. For example, if a lake house was destroyed by fire and was built inches away from a neighbor, the house could be rebuilt without regard to current setbacks. If a garage addition extends into the right-of-way, the right-of-way could be violated again.

Richard said in the case of a rebuild or remodel, the planning department can institute the current setbacks. If the bill passes, the local oversight wouldn’t matter.

The legislation has returned to the Senate with amendments from the House and may be up for Senate confirmation very soon. The commissioners approved a letter from the group urging a vote against the bill.

The next plan commission meeting is April 1 at 1 p.m. in the Kosciusko County Courthouse third floor meeting room.