County Plan Commission Recommends Rezoning For Two Parts Of Former South Shore Golf Course

Kosciusko County Area Plan Commission meets at 1 p.m. in the old county courthouse on the first Wednesday of every month. Members pictured (L to R) are County Council President Jon Garber, County Surveyor Mike Kissinger, Milford Councilman Doug Ruch, Plan Commission President Dr. Lee Harman, Joe Crazier, County Commissioner Bob Conley and Kevin McSherry. Also present but not pictured Wednesday were Pierceton Town Councilman Mandy Espinoza and Larry Coplen. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.

Two pieces of property formerly part of South Shore Golf Course in Syracuse received favorable recommendations by the Kosciusko County Area Plan Commission (APC) Wednesday to be rezoned.

On rezonings, the APC is only a recommending body to the county commissioners, who will hear both cases at approximately 9:15 a.m. Dec. 22 in the old county courthouse.

The first petition by Kosciusko Development Corporation, for property owned by Polk Equipment and DP & P Investments, was originally to rezone ground from a public use, commercial and agricultural district to a residential district for housing. The property is on the west side of Ind. 13 and 1,116 feet south of CR 1120N in Turkey Creek Township.

The second petition was from South Shore Ventures to rezone ground from a public use district to a commercial district. The property is on the west side of Ind. 13 in Turkey Creek Township. The petitioners plan to have a restaurant there.

On the first petition, Area Plan Director Dan Richard said some of the property originally requested to be rezoned was public use, some was commercial and some agricultural with plans for all of it to go to residential. He said the Area Plan got an email from the petitioners in the last few days stating that they wanted to request less be rezoned than what was in the original petition. The request was pared down to about 20 acres, which was all zoned agricultural.

Attorney Steve Snyder said Kosciusko Development Corporation (KDC) has “undertaken the project, with the closing of the golf course, to convert it essentially to residential housing.” He said there’s a significant need in the county for various types of residential housing. He said the petition from KDC doesn’t include the 5 acres already sold by the two owners to South Shore Ventures, which included the clubhouse.

“The original request we filed was for the entirety of the golf course, excepting that clubhouse area. As we’re working with planners to come up with the appropriate combined uses that has potential out there, we concluded that it was premature to rezone everything to residential,” Snyder said.

He said the county’s technical committee took a look at the request when the plan was to rezone the entirety of the property. Snyder said there’s access to Ind. 13, which was crucial when looking at a subdivision of this size; the soil types are very favorable; there will be individual wells, which didn’t seem to be a concern to the County Health Department; and “it also appears that the Tippy Creek Regional Sewer District is tapping on immediately adjacent to the property and will be able to expand sanitary sewer into the area for whatever residential development comes about, and commercial development for that matter.”

Snyder said from a use standpoint, they know it won’t survive as a golf course and the “next best use” is going to be residential.

Richard noted there were three letters of remonstration against the petition. Plan Commission President Dr. Lee Harman said  the letters expressed concern about what type of housing would go in there. Snyder said there will be single-family homes with some multi-family houses – such as apartments that are badly needed – but “do they have a plan for a mobile home park? No.” However, he did point out that in the county’s  zoning ordinance, if a property is rezoned to residential, “it could be anything that falls within the definition of residential.”

Board members Larry Coplen and County Surveyor Mike Kissinger were concerned about just rezoning part of the former golf course at this point instead of all of it, noting that if something were to happen or plans changed, the residential rezoning could be surrounded by commercial. Snyder pointed out that it was not unusual to have residential zoning next to commercial and the owners’ plans were to have it all eventually be residential.

Doug Ruch, board member, said that due to the housing shortage in the county, regardless of the type of housing that goes in there, “We need to be supportive of the county and rezoning this to residential.”

After some more back-and-forth on why only a portion was being rezoned to residential at this time, Ruch made the motion to recommend to the commissioners that the rezoning be approved, with board member Kevin McSherry providing the second. It was approved 8-1 with Kissinger opposed.

Next up was the petition for South Shore Ventures to rezone about 5 acres from a public use district to commercial. Richard said the property includes the golf clubhouse, restaurant and another associated building.

Jeff Dyson, a partner with South Shore Ventures, said, “We purchased the clubhouse as a restaurant to convert back into a restaurant. Our hopes were that with everything going on that there was a way to work with whatever develops for the golf course … and we’re looking to make that back to what it was in its heyday as a fun restaurant for people to come and hang out with their families.”

There were no remonstrators to the petition.

Kissinger made the motion to recommend to the commissioners the rezoning be approved and the motion was unanimously approved.

In other business before the APC Wednesday, the board voted to recommend the commissioners:

• Deny Joseph Bontrager’s petition to rezone 7.28 acres from a residential district to an agricultural district. However, they did recommend Bontrager instead seek a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals so he could have a horse for a horse and buggy and maybe other animals. The property is on the south side of CR 1300N and 500 feet east of Old Ind. 15 in Van Buren Township.

• Approve Brent and Brenda Byers’ petition for a preliminary plat approval for a residential development in a residential district. The property is on the south side of Elaine Drive and zero feet south of Britney in Wayne Township.

The APC voted to recommend to the North Webster Town Board that they:

• Approve North Webster Day Care’s petition to rezone ground from a public use and residential district to a commercial district. The property is on the south side of Washington Street in the town of North Webster and zero feet east of Harrison Street in Tippecanoe Township.

Scott Kuhn said he’s in the process of trying to purchase the building at this time. He said he has a small consignment store on Ind. 13 in the town and wants to move his store to the day care location. His hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and he said he will have plenty of parking.

The town board submitted a letter to the APC in favor of the rezoning.