Putnam County to revisit contractor zoning issue

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A possible addition to the special exceptions in the county zoning ordinance will be in front of the Putnam County Commissioners for a fourth time on Monday, Oct. 6.

The special exception, which has been approved by the Putnam County Plan Commission, would allow contractor storage yards as special exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to several months of consideration by the plan commission, the commissioners have also heard arguments in the matter three different times.

The commissioners eventually voted down the measure, but in doing so sent it back to the plan commission for revisions.

If approved, the new special exception would allow contractors to store trucks or other equipment on land zoned for other purposes. Contractors would not be given carte blanche to park trucks where they would like, but would have to go to the Putnam County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) for individual approval.

The arguments before the commissioners have been muddied by the details of the particular case that has brought the issue to the county's attention.

Late last year, Jeff Hampton, who lives on County Road 500 North, Bainbridge, lodged a complaint about activities on his road regarding trucks owned by Jim Bowling.

Hampton contended that Bowling's dump trucks should not operate on the land, which is zoned as Agricultural 1.

After being contacted by the county, Bowling requested information on how to bring his operation into compliance, prompting the plan commission to search for how such an operation might be zoned.

The commission, along with County Attorney Jim Ensley, eventually decided that such operations could best be identified as contractor storage yards.

The exception was drafted and first went before the commissioners on Aug. 4. At that time, the commissioners tabled the vote, asking for more information from Ensley.

At the Aug. 18 meeting, the commissioners voted no to the plan commission's proposed exception.

However, the matter was again on the table at the Sept. 3 commissioners meeting, with Ensley asking if the issue had simply been voted down or if the commissioners would like to send it back to the plan commission with a request to change the wording.

Commissioner David Berry presented Ensley with a revised version of the ordinance, which fellow commissioners Don Walton and Max Watts agreed to send back to the plan commission.

The plan commission also revisited the issue at its Sept. 11 meeting, choosing to revise the ordinance further and send it back to the commissioners for their Monday, Oct. 6 meeting.

At this meeting, the commissioners will be considering the broad issue of whether such storage yards should be allowed as special exceptions -- not the particulars of the disagreement between the Hamptons and Bowlings.

Should the special exception be approved, such matters would be considered individually by the BZA. In addition to approving or denying a special exception, the BZA has the ability to place any number of

restrictions on any exception it approves.

In other business:

* County highway supervisor Mike Ricketts addressed a recent concern regarding spraying for weeds by his employees.

At the Aug. 18 meeting, Randy Bee expressed some concerns about spraying near his property on County Road 400 North. He told commissioners that spraying had been performed around a nearby culvert on Aug. 1, and that he had a calf die a short time later.

Bee said he could not say for sure the two were related, but asked that the county examine the use of pesticides near waterways.

Ricketts reported that he has researched the issue and is confident the spraying did not kill the calf. Ricketts reported speaking to the product supplier, who said it would require much more exposure.

"He (the product vendor) said that there isn't any way the chemical that was used would kill a 200-pound calf," Ricketts said. "His opinion was that the calf would have to drink two to three gallons straight of the chemical to get any effect on it."

In the situation in question, the product was diluted at 0.5 percent in a 30-gallon tank, meaning that less than a quart of the chemical should have been present in nearly 30 gallons of water.

Additionally, Ricketts reported that there is no setback requirement on either of the products used in the mixture, meaning they may be sprayed next to water and waterways.

Ricketts also spoke to Bee, who said he had not gotten a veterinarian's opinion regarding the calf's cause of death.

"I am confident that the actions of the county spraying product to control weed growth near the guardrails did not contribute to the death of the calf," Ricketts said.

* The commissioners appointed Joe Ferguson to the Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Recent resignations left two openings on the board. The Putnam County Council is set to make its appointment at the Tuesday, Sept. 16 meeting.

* The commissioners approved a data sharing application with CoreLogic, which had requested the county plat data through WTH, the company that maintains the county's global information system (GIS) data.

Steve Leatherman of WTH was present to explain that CoreLogic is a company that requests such data often. CoreLogic clients are generally banks and insurance companies seeking property data.

He added that WTH has been working with CoreLogic for more than five years and has had no trouble.

The commissioners approved the request 3-0.

This was the first data sharing request to come before the commissioners. The prospect of sharing such data was approved earlier in the year, with the cost for such information being agreed upon at $750, with $250 going to the county and $500 going to WTH for doing all of the work to provide the information.

Future requests will likely not require Leatherman's presence, but county officials wanted him present for their first approval.

The Putnam County Commissioners will meet again at 6 p.m. on Monday.

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  • Wow the beauty of zoning, making it illegal to park trucks you own on your own property...absolutely ridiculous

    -- Posted by Avenger1234 on Mon, Sep 15, 2014, at 8:37 PM
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