Plan Commission Tables Vacation Request; Approves Favorable Polywood Rezoning Recommendation

Kosciusko County Courthouse. (Photo: Nick Deranek/News Now Warsaw)

Kosciusko County Area Plan Commission met Wednesday with five of the nine members present: Lee Harman, Kevin McSherry, Mandy Espinoza, Bob Conley and Mike Kissinger. The number of members present is significant because approvals are made by a majority of total members – five – not a majority of members present at a meeting.

This rule came to bear in Case No. 20002PV, a petition from Bucher Family Enterprises to vacate the western portion of lot 54 in the South Shore Green subdivision. The property is to the south side of Tee Trail in Turkey Creek Township. Don Bucher said the vacation would allow him emergency access to his farmland to the south and west of the lot.

Bucher said he had no plans to create a residential subdivision in the future because of soft, mucky ground in the field directly to the south. He noted that lots 54 and 52 have been combined, which allows that property owner access to Tee Trail. He also said his taxes would be lower when the parcel was removed from the subdivision.

Alan Frank, representing the South Shore Green Homeowner’s Association, said most residents, 35 of 43, do not want the vacation. He noted that the eight property members not signing the petition simply weren’t home when the petition circulated.

Frank said the original developer sold the “L” shaped lot to the lot 53 owner. However, the off lot wasn’t included in the next house sale, and the seller sold the bit of land to Bucher.

“We have several concerns,” Frank said. “If Don says he won’t develop a subdivision, we trust him. But we don’t know who future land owners will be.”

Frank said the vacation would also violate several covenants of the subdivision.

In their vote, Espinoza and Kissinger voted for the vacation while Harman, Conley and McSherry voted against it and the item was continued to the Oct. 7 meeting.

Case No. 20010Z

Steve Snyder, representing the town of Syracuse, presented a petition to rezone ground from a residential to an industrial II district. The property is on the west side of Maple Street, 400 feet north of Brooklyn Street in Syracuse.

Plan Commission Director Dan Richard noted the Syracuse Town Council will have final say about the rezoning and the Plan Commission members will only make a preliminary recommendation. Following public comments, the commissioners’ recommendation was in favor of the rezoning. The town council will discuss the proposal at their Sept. 15 meeting, which they plan to conduct by Zoom.

The rezoning will accommodate Polywood’s expansion plans to construction an additional 400,000-square-feet building, which would bring an additional 400 jobs.

Residents directly to the east of the proposed property, who live on Courtland and North streets, were opposed to the rezoning. Melissa Bennett, Melody Rogers, Richard Rogers, Annette Cook and Gary Cook all spoke against the rezoning, citing additional trucks and employee traffic, noise, parking lot lights and the location.

They also said this was the first they had heard of the expansion plans and were a little upset to just now be finding out about it now.

At the July 1 meeting, the Plan Commission approved a resolution recognizing the Syracuse’s Redevelopment Commission resolution and economic development plan for Polywood.

In July, Snyder also talked about the significant proposed expansion.

Wednesday, Snyder said the Syracuse Town Council has discussed the project for many weeks, plans to relocate the baseball diamonds southwest of town, has signed the rezoning petition, approved a tax increment financing area and tax abatement over the last months.

He noted adjacent property owners were notified about the hearing today as a first step in the process. He said there would be several other opportunities for the neighbors to speak when the project comes before other boards and commissions.

“If the property isn’t rezoned, it cannot move forward,” he said.

Case No. 20001PV

Don and Peggy Bucher’s request to vacate lot 11 in the Cindonway Shores Addition was approved. The property is on the east side of Bucher Drive in Van Buren Township.

Final plat approvals were granted to:

• Deborah Meyer to replat lot No. 4 in Lake Forest. The property is on the west side of EMS C29 Lane, 300 feet south of CR 450N in Plain Township.

•  Michael Long for a residential 2 lot development on a 5.5-acre tract of ground now known as Vera Long Estates. The property is on the south side of Hoffman Lake Road, east of CR 800S in Prairie Township.

A cul-d-sac vacation request within Blueberry Island’s 4th Addition, lot 7, was approved by the board members and the petition moves to the county commissioners for final approval.

The board also approved a vacation of a right-of-way parcel requested by Todd Dawson, EMS T34C Lane, Leesburg, which was approved.