(Banner Graphic/ERIC BERNSEE) [Order this photo]
The half-acre property along the north side of Shadowlawn Avenue, just east of the vegetable stand on the corner of U.S. 231, has been operated as a commercial site for easily more than 50 years.
From all appearances, it would still seem to be commercial property to this day. But that's not how it stands on paper. And the street address that accompanies the site belies its location.
The site appears to be caught up in an identity crisis.
Consider this: Gary W. and Darcella Branagin have owned the property for 36 years, and before that it belonged to Standard Oil of Indiana.
It has long operated as commercial property, Mrs. Branagin told the City Plan Commission Monday night. It has been used as such, she said, ever since oil was being delivered to that site by rail.
Yet somehow in the 2003 updating of the city's comprehensive plan, the parcel was designated as part of a single-family dwelling residential district.
Adding to the identity crisis is the property's physical address. While clearly being located along Shadowlawn, it carries a 600 N. Indiana St. address.
Plan Commission member Mark Hammer indicated that is probably because Shadowlawn was more of path than a street at the time addresses were being attached to property in the area.
A request by the Branagins' son, Brian, to use the office and warehouse on the site for his B & B Drywall and Painting business set the wheels in motion to restore a commercial, or general business designation (GB1), to the property.
In the future, Brian Branagin may also start a towing service and would like to fence in an area north of the office and east of the warehouse as an impound lot.
"This will not be a salvage yard. It will only be a temporary impound lot," he noted in his petition for rezoning.
City Planner Shannon Norman said that if the towing business does come about, the fence would have to be a minimum of six feet high and 100 percent opaque.
She also explained that the comprehensive plan update rezoned the entire street as residential except for the corner properties occupied by Tom's Market and Hendershot's Auto Service Center.
"Some property got caught in between what it was used for and what was seen likely for growth of the city," Norman noted. "This was one of those."
The site is currently being used by Baker's Septic Service, although Darcella Branagin told the Plan Commission that was a month-to-month arrangement for now.
There would be no changes to the current buildings, it was noted.
"There's storage building in the back, which will serve the purpose he needs for storage," Norman said.
"At the beginning of all of this," Darcella Branagin stressed, "we really just wanted to get it zoned properly."
On a motion by Plan Commission Chairman Bill Hamm, the rezoning petition received a unanimous favorable recommendation to be passed on to the City Council for final approval.
Joining Hamm and Hammer for the 30-minute meeting at City Hall were Plan Commission members Mayor Sue Murray, Mike Murphy, Tim Trigg, Jack Murtagh and Matt Welker.
Kathy Ferrand, Eric Wolfe and Donnie Watson were absent.
In addition to City Planner Norman, City Attorney Laurie Hardwick was also present.