Where decisions are made ‘willy-nilly’
Credit: Kokomo Tribune | August 10, 2014 | www.kokomotribune.com ~~
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Citizens of Tipton County should have the reasonable assurance that local laws and ordinances put in place to protect them will not be randomly abandoned. Instead, some find themselves begging the leadership not to waiver from those laws in favor of the whims of an out-of-county resident for his personal gain. Many citizens in Prairie Acres are exasperated by their inability to understand the inconsistent thought processes employed by our commissioners and planning and zoning members.
The commissioners used the county in a questionable “pass-through action” so that Functional Devices could acquire two state-owned lots that were unbuildable by our own county standards. The lots have no access and there is no room to place a required access road that would meet all of our ordinance specifications. A 150-foot front setback is required all along U.S. 31 and a 50-foot rear yard setback totaling 200 feet of property depth where nothing can be built. From the U.S. 31 right-of-way, the two lots are just under 200 feet deep. As the “keepers” of our ordinances, the commissioners should have recognized the lots as unbuildable. Instead they encouraged development, which would require setting aside multiple county ordinances.
A plan commission member who in 2008 was a part of recommending the strict setbacks in the U.S. 31 district stated on July 17 that he saw no problem with the BZA granting radical variances and was glad the county would receive property taxes from those lots. He failed to recognize how the loss of property values on the Prairie Acres homes would more than offset any county revenue from the industrial expansion, thereby resulting in a negative economic impact.
The Board of Zoning Appeals members brought up numerous concerns, but a majority would not vote to deny all variances. In both meetings, no resident spoke in favor of the project.
The citizens left scratching their heads in bewilderment. Sixteen months ago the BZA substantially increased the setback from the requirement in our county ordinance so industrial wind farm development would be farther away from homes. Now they are considering a significant setback reduction that will place industrial development closer to homes.
With the Plan Commission, wind energy leaseholders asked members to allow the location of industrial wind turbines close to their own houses by placing an exception in the new ordinance. The members denied the request, concluding that even though leaseholders wanted to be close to industrial wind turbines, it was not in their best interest. With the Functional Devices industrial development request, the Plan Commission voted to carve out two lots from the platted Prairie Acres subdivision in order to allow an industrial use right next to residential lots against the pleas of the residents.
Reasonable people should be able to understand the confusion. In one instance the BZA increases setbacks between industry and people and demands property value guarantees, but is now considering reducing the setbacks between industry and people and property values have not been discussed. The Plan Commission won’t allow industry and people to be close together when they want to be, but then votes to force industry and people to be close together when they don’t want to be.
It’s not surprising our county population continues to decline. Why would anyone want to locate in Tipton when decisions are made willy-nilly and backyards of platted residential subdivisions are not safe from the encroachment of industrial development?
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