City plan commission to study zoning


The Seymour Plan Commission has organized a committee to study the issue of zoning for a work release center in a commercial development on the city’s east side.

Building Commissioner Jeremy Gray said the issue is similar to that of a homeless shelter also to be built on Dupont Drive.

Currently, the city has no zoning classification for either development.

The plan commission denied a land use variance for the homeless shelter last month, but the Seymour Board of Zoning Appeals later overturned the decision allowing the project to move forward.

That left a bad taste in the mouths of several commissioners, including President Don Myers Jr, who said he doesn’t want to see the same scenario happen again with the work release center.

"So we allow these people to come to us. We say no, like we did last time. It goes to the BZA. They say yes, so what the hell?" he said. "I’m not in favor of being bullied into doing something again like we did last time. If there’s not a classification for it, why would we even allow it to come to us?"

That’s the point of filing for a land use variance, Gray said.

"That option is there. It’s state law, so that’s why they are allowed to file for it," he said.

The county has not yet filed for a land use variance for the work release center.

Commissioner John Reinhart, who also a city councilman, said a variance shouldn’t be granted if the proposed development changes the character of the area.

"You went from commercial to basically residential," he said of Dupont Drive.

Plan Commission attorney Travis Thompson said variances weren’t designed to become normal zoning procedure.

"In zoning, variances are supposed to be granted very rarely," he said.

One solution to the problem would be to change the city’s comprehensive plan to add an institutional zoning classification, Thompson said.

"But there’s no way that can be done in a week," he said. "You can’t change the master plan in a month."

"It’s like we have a train coming right at us and we don’t have the tracks finished," Myers Jr. added.

Gray said the county can not move forward with the work release center project without filing for a building permit with the city’s planning and zoning department.

Commissioner and city engineer Bernie Hauersperger said the worst thing the city can do is be inactive on the issue.

"Maybe we can get ahead of it," he said.

Myers Jr. said the city council should take the reins on the issue and formulate the zoning since they will have the final vote.

Commissioner Dave Eggers suggested the board implement a trial land use variance that would require a developer apply for permanent zoning after a certain period of time.

"I think at the end of the day, this will assist us to eliminate land use variances like it was used against us the last time," Eggers said. "It was horrifically misused in that instance and put us in a predicament that should not have been."

Thompson said the BZA already has the power to implement such conditions, but no developer is going to invest in a project without knowing if zoning will be approved.

Those appointed to serve on the technical zoning committee are Hauersperger, Eggers, Reinhart and Commissioner Mark Hays.

No posts to display