Like most rural areas in Indiana, when Daviess County officials first began talking about putting countywide zoning in place the idea had very little support. The county took the steps as I-69 opened in an attempt to control development around the exits along the new interstate. Officials first considered trying to zone only those areas around the exits but found they could not legally do spot zoning. So, at the first of the year new zoning maps were put into place, a board of zoning appeals was seated, and new procedures were adopted for people looking to build and develop in the county.
Countywide zoning is now in its sixth month and officials say the public appears to have accepted the changes.
“We had some calls early on from people complaining about it, but those people didn’t understand the rules,” said County Commissioners President Tony Wichman. “Once they got an explanation they stopped complaining.”
For the most part, the rural areas of Daviess County are zoned residential, with exceptions in place for businesses and operations that were established before the new maps were adopted. “It was our intent to not be a burden,” said President of the Daviess County Advisory Plan Commission Dennis Helms. “It seems to be working as planned.”
With Montgomery and Washington having their own zoning codes, the county decided it needed to make the new system simple for people to apply for permits or to find out whether they might need to seek special exceptions or variances. The county worked out an agreement with the city of Washington to make the City Building Inspector’s Office the point of first contact. “That appears to have settled out well,” said Helms. “Everyone is contacting them about the permits and picking up their packages.”
“As far as I know, that system is working smoothly,” said Wichman. “I’ve not heard any negatives from the city or the inspector’s office.”