The Washington Times-Herald

January 28, 2014

Commissioners to forward IDEM reports to BZA

By Mike Grant Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — The new planning maps and zoning regulations have the Daviess County Commissioners changing the ways they handle the reports they receive from state agencies for permits. The commissioners will now forward the permits for confined feeding operations to the new County Board of Zoning Appeals. “We receive all kinds of reports on permits from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management on all kinds of things,” said Commissioner’s President Tony Wichman. “Some of them are for things that we have no control over, but there are others that we need to keep track of.”

Currently the county has received information on a pair of confined feeding operations that IDEM has approved for construction. The CFO’s are part of the county’s zoning law and also require approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals. “We need to forward those notifications of permits on to the BZA to make certain they have been properly zoned,” said Wichman.

“We get those all the time,” added Commissioner Mike Taylor. “They need to be forwarded.”

In the past those permits would be all someone would need to construct a hog or turkey barn. The new zoning laws require one more step. “Now, they need to contact all of the adjacent land owners and get on the agenda for the next BZA meeting. We aren’t trying to stop them from from being built. We just want the neighbors to know what is coming and give them a chance.”

The commissioners are uncertain whether the projects they received the latest paperwork on will fall under the new zoning ordinance. “The permits were dated in October,” said County Attorney Grant Swartzentruber.

“It just depends,” added Wichman. “If they broke ground on or before Dec. 31 it doesn’t apply, but if they started it any later then it goes before the BZA.”

The decisions by the BZA are not the end of the process. The zoning law still allows for the board’s decisions to be considered by the commissioners. “If there is an issue or people aren’t satisfied by the board’s ruling they can appeal it to the commissioners, and we’ll listen,” said Wichman, “but I believe we’ll probably give a pretty good consideration to the zoning rules.”

In other business the commissioners tabled the annual report from the Board of Finance.

County Highway Superintendent Phil Cornelius reported the load limits in the current construction zone along CR 900E appear to be working. “It looks like that has managed to keep the heavy trucks off that gravel portion of the road,” he said. “The contractor was pleased with the action.”

The commissioner’s had also been hoping for an update on the Bennington Levee. “I contacted a member of Levee Board,” said Swartzentruber. “Just, no one showed up.”