Leesburg Considers Joining County Plan Commission

Leesburg City Center. (Photo: Nick Deranek/News Now Warsaw)

The town council will look into the possibility of becoming a member of the Kosciusko County Area Plan Commission.

“It has come to our attention over the last two months, with some of the issues we’ve come across, it may be time for us to revisit our Area Plan Commission membership,” Council President Doug Jones said during the town council’s meeting Monday. “In the past, we’ve attempted this and met with great resistance, but we’re a little limited in some of the things we can do.”

Councilman Tom Moore said the big issue was that people didn’t understand it.

The Area Plan Commission (APC) is responsible for reviewing and making recommendations on rezoning requests, ordinance amendments and right-of-way vacations to the Kosciusko County Commissioners or associated town boards. The APC also reviews and approves of subdivision plats, according to the county website.

Jones said because people didn’t understand it, they were resistant to it. Moore suggested a public meeting where residents can ask questions.

Moore said he wasn’t ready to vote one way or another Monday since he said there’s reasons to vote for and against joining APC.

Jones said he agreed, but what the council found was there was only so much the council could do as a governing body.

“In order for us to move forward in this, we have to lean on area planning a little bit,” Jones said.

Jones said another option would be for the town to set up its own planning commission.

“The town board cannot be the planning commission,” Moore said. He said one town council member can be on the commission as a representative and the commission is usually an odd number of people.

Jones said the town council has to make sure they’re doing it the right way, “looking at all the different angles.” Jones said, “We don’t want to implement this in haste” and have the town council change their minds later on.

Moore said he’d take the responsibility to reach out to APC to see if a public meeting can be set up. Jones said it would probably be best if it would be a supplemental meeting and not scheduled on the normal town council meeting night since they’ll need more room.

Councilwoman Christina Archer updated the board on the town’s K21 Health Foundation walkway and bikeway project. It is part of K21’s committing $1.8 million to nine rural towns for their step toward health and wellness.

“In order to proceed with our walkway project, we have to have a plan in place, also estimates on how much it would cost per plan,” she said.

Street Commissioner Craig Charlton and Archer “had been discussing it” and they were discussing if “the best way to ago about this is to start with one mile that would include going up and down Van Buren Street on both sides.”

An option is to have the project on one side of Van Buren Street, then cross the road and continue on down Van Buren.

“Hopefully, in the future, there will be money to extend it more than that, but it will give us our first mile to get started at least,” Archer said.

The application process is kind of different because the town would turn in the plan then the application. Archer said she was told by the people at K21 that it’s not a difficult process, “but it does seem kind of backward.”

Archer will have to get estimates.

“Before we get estimates, I’d like to get a little bit more input, but from what I’ve heard discussed so far, this is the best way to start,” Archer said.

In other news, the town council learned:

• Charlton was doing cold patch holes in alleys and replacing and adding fire extinguishers in town buildings.

• The Van Buren Street curb project phase 1 would be starting Thursday per last call.

• One of town’s trucks is at WA Jones to have a new plow mount installed. Charlton said he found cracks in the frame on the front on both sides.