Farmland rezoning approved

The Bartholomew County Commissioners approved rezoning 42 acres of farmland bordered by State Road 7, U.S. 31, State Road 46 and County Road 300E, opening the property to commercial development.

For the 25 people who attended Monday’s commissioner meeting, the decision was not a surprise. Commissioners Chairman Rick Flohr earlier said he could find no legal reason to deny the request from property owner Bruce K. Nolting.

But before approving the rezoning, Flohr and Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz added additional safeguards intended to balance Nolting’s property rights with neighbors’ concerns.

Flohr and Kleinhenz said they will not allow current or future owners to return at a later date and request industrial zoning.

The commissioners also included a provision that permission would first have to be obtained from the Bartholomew County Board of Zoning Appeals if one of the following six types of businesses seeks to develop the land:

Auto-oriented sales or service

Building supplies

Equipment rental

Farm equipment sales or service

Small-scale recreational (i.e. taverns, billiards hall, arcade and fitness centers)

Wholesale retailer

Because these types of businesses are known to have high traffic, bright lights and multiple-entrances, they could be disruptive for neighboring property owners, Kleinhenz said.

“Our intent is not to deny those uses, but to give the residents a chance for input,” Kleinhenz said.

The board of zoning appeals would be required to have a public hearing prior to approving one of those uses, Kleinhenz said.

Additional limits established last week state the property cannot be used as a utility substation, liquor store, agricultural supply retailer, agricultural products terminal or mobile home sales facility.

However, the ordinance still allows several other uses ranging from retail stores, restaurants and schools to offices and motels.

If and when the property is developed for commercial purposes, there will also be a requirement that a 100-foot-wide buffer be placed around the property of Paul Younger, on the site’s north side.

However, the buffer will not be required for building new homes, or if Younger decides to sell his property for non-residential purposes, the commissioners stated.

Commissioner Carl Lienhoop again excused himself from voting or participating in the discussions because Nolting is his cousin.

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.