Board votes against clean fill site


Despite a pending lawsuit against the city, the Seymour Plan Commission has not backed down from its previous stance against a local business plans to develop property just north of the city into a clean fill site.

During a mostly virtual meeting last Thursday, commissioners voted 9-1 against BP2 Construction’s most recent petition for a land use variance that would allow the fill site to operate in the 2300 block of North State Road 11, which is in the city’s two mile zoning jurisdiction.

Commissioner Gary Colglazier was the only one to vote in favor of the petition, while Rick Schleibaum abstained from the vote.

The variance now goes before the city’s board of zoning appeals for a final vote at 7 p.m. Tuesday. That meeting will be conducted virtually.

This marks the third time the plan commission has denied BP2’s petitions for the property.

In 2017, the company made a similar request for a land use variance. The plan commission voted against the petition at that time and BP2 withdrew the variance.

In August 2020, the plan commission issued an unfavorable recommendation to BP2’s request to rezone the property to I-2 for heavy industrial use. The Seymour City Council later upheld that decision.

The 14-acre property is owned by BP2 and currently is zoned C-1 for neighborhood commercial development but would require I-2 zoning or a variance to be used as a fill site.

Besides warehousing of concrete, asphalt and dirt brought in from construction sites, BP2 wants to recycle and sell those materials as part of the business.

BP2 purchased the 14.29 acres from Peace Lutheran Church in 2016. According to plans, the project also included the restoration of federally-recognized wetlands on the back of the property.

Attorney Jason Smith spoke on behalf of BP2 last week and said the variance is needed to make the property “productive.” Due to its low elevation, sandy soils and proximity to wetlands, Smith said there are no good commercial uses for the acreage.

“What we’re asking to use it for, it’s perfect for that,” he said.

Smith said the location is great for access from Interstate 65 and State Road 11, and the business is something the community needs.

Several neighbors including the Oak Heritage Conservancy, which owns a nature preserve near the property, spoke in opposition of the land use variance.

Liz Brownlee works for Oak Heritage and said her opinion about the proposed development hasn’t changed since 2017 when she first spoke against it.

She is concerned that because the area is near the East Fork White River and prone to flooding, there is a high risk of polluting the river and water table.

“The benefit to the community would be for it to be agriculture, parkland or a community space,” she said.

Smith said since BP2 has approval from the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Management, pollution shouldn’t be a concern.

“They’re not going to let us do that,” Smith said. “We wouldn’t be here if that were the case. We’re talking about natural earth materials. I’m confident there is some way or something we can do to make the city feel comfortable that that is not going to happen.”

Other concerns were brought up by neighbors about noise, dust, visual appeal and the effect the fill site will have on health and property values.

Smith said BP2 has taken many steps to reduce and eliminate those concerns.

They have built a 15-foot berm running along State Road 11 and are willing to increase it by another three feet and plant a tree line to shield the site from the highway and improve its curb appeal, he said.

“We’re committed to doing anything and everything to make the site still attractive when you drive by it and to control the dust and reduce the sound,” he said.

He compared the noise from the site to that of a lawnmower.

Smith also argued that the project jump started development in the area including a new doctor’s office and a potential location for a new gas station.

“I don’t think you can actually say that it’s injuring the property value,” he said.

Stephen Kroman said he has lived about 150 feet from the property since 2005.

“At that time it was a very peaceful and quiet place to live with beautiful surroundings,” he said. “Now there are bulldozers, excavators, dust, concrete and disturbing noise constantly,” he said.

He’s also worried about runoff from the materials at the fill site polluting underground water sources including his well.

Although the berm blocks the site from State Road 11, Kroman said it does nothing to block the view from surrounding housing in the area.

“I’m concerned about the value of our home resale and the fact that no one is going to want to purchase a home with this process going on within a few hundred yards,” he said.

Kroman said the business belongs in a different location.

Resident Kevin Burke, who lives along State Road 11 south of the property, agreed. He is concerned about the growth potential for the business.

Burke said such a business belongs in the country or an industrial park where there are no homes nearby and that provides multiple entry and exit points to reduce traffic congestion.

“This is a great idea. It’s a wonderful idea. Mr. Pardieck is a genius businessman, but it’s such a good idea that there’s no question in my mind that it’s going to grow and the market for it is going to increase,” Burke said. “This growth is why I’m concerned that this is the wrong location.”

Smith said he understands the concerns, but encouraged the board to work with BP2 not against them.

“There’s ways to fix problems,” he said. “The number one priority should be to make the property productive and to help us do that if at all possible. We’ve got a good idea here, and I think we can find a way to make it work.”

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