Rezoning item delayed by plan commission

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Residents on the city's south side who have been waiting to learn whether their properties can be rezoned for professional office space will have to wait, as a low turn out of Greencastle Plan Commission members led to an indecisive vote on the proposal Monday.

All but two of the homeowners in an area of single-family homes (not apartments) bordered by Zinc Mill Road on the east, South Street on the south, Ind. 240 on the north and Central Street on the west, have petitioned to have their neighborhood rezoned.

Driving the project has been Carpenter Real Estate company, which would like to build an office in the district that is currently zoned for residential purposes.

The realtors first approached the Plan Commission in April, when they petitioned to have only the 1.25-acre empty lot at the intersection of Ind. 240 and Tennessee Street rezoned from residential to Professional Business district (PB).

However, commission members feared they might create "spot zoning," or applying zoning ordinances to specific properties when neighboring lots may be under a different classification. Some courts have ruled the practice illegal when it creates zoning which goes against the overall plan for community development.

So, members asked Carpenter to return to the May meeting with a petition that would extend the change to PB to the rest of the residents who supported the proposal.

Monday, all but two of those neighbors were in support of changing the zoning.

One of those residents, Chrissy Jones, who lives at 845 Tennessee Street, said she was not against the zoning change, but just not to PB.

Several residents spoke about wanting to expand the area of the rezoning to include the neighborhood on the south side of Tennessee Street.

A possible increase in traffic also seemed to be a concern.

"I don't want to live on a street that is heavy with traffic. I moved out there because it was quieter," Deanna Parks, who lives at 810 Tennessee Street, said.

Some other residents suggested the possible future development of an Ivy Tech State College campus nearby would increase traffic anyway.

And Carpenter attorney Andy Kult, Danville, also said professional business zoning, which would not include shops or restaurants, would be the less likely to create additional traffic at peak hours than zoning for commercial purposes.

As a warning for the homeowners who signed the petition to make the move to PB zoning, City Planner Shannon Norman explained some of the stipulations associated with the change.

Although families who would live in the rezoned area would be "grandfathered" or allowed to remain in the area as a residence despite the change, she said if their home is left vacant for a year or more, it would have to be sold as PB from that point on. That means, it would have to fall under one of the permitted PB uses such as a church, community center, daycare, medical office, government office, parking lot or garage, trade or business school or a data processing center.

However, all the debate may have been for naught, as the petition had to be tabled. Six of the 11-member board have to be present for a quorum, and six votes have to be given for an action to be legitimate

Only members Dee Erhardt, Max Evans, Bryan Hanson, Mayor Nancy Michael, City Engineer Glen Morrow, and Donnie Watson were present at the meeting, and one member, Hanson, voted against making a supportive recommendation on the change to Greencastle City Council.

According to the commission's bylaws, this meant the board did not have enough votes either for or against the petition to make a recommendation at all, and the petition had to be tabled.

Members Kathy Ferrand, Bill Hamm, Mark Hammer, John Hecko and Tim Trigg were not present at the meeting.

In other business, the board tabled a plat review of the second lot of Enterprise Park 1, also known as the Sgt. Cunningham site at the intersection of CR 50 South and Fillmore Road due to a request by the petition presenter.

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