Commissioners give tentative OK to Uniontown zoning


BROWNSTOWN — The Jackson County Commissioners gave tentative approval to an ordinance amending zoning in the Uniontown area to pave the way for future development during a meeting Tuesday morning at the courthouse.

The zoning ordinance and map amendments were approved earlier this summer by the Jackson County Plan Commission and were forwarded to county commissioners for final approval.

The ordinance puts residential, commercial and industrial zoning in place in the Uniontown area in the east central part of the county. That area includes the junctions of Interstate 65 and State Road 250 and U.S. 31 and State Road 250.

Future development is anticipated in that area due to a wastewater collection project in the works in that area at this time.

The multi-million-dollar project will use a combination of lift stations and gravity flow to carry waste approximately 7 miles to the north at Lake Leslie. From there, the waste would be carried through Seymour to the city’s wastewater treatment plant on the far west side.

The Uniontown area has been undeveloped for years because of the lack of a sanitary sewage system large enough to serve commercial/industrial businesses.

County attorney Susan Bevers said the purpose of the zoning ordinance is to get ahead of potential development so the county does not have issues with something going in at the Uniontown exit that is inappropriate or isn’t in line with the community.

She said a lot of the ordinance is related to aesthetics and making sure the Frontage Road of buildings is appropriate and there’s correct screening of various items, such as the mechanical parts of the buildings themselves and enough windows on the front of the buildings to be aesthetically pleasing.

Bevers said none of the zoning changes will take place immediately until those properties transfer to new owners.

“Zoning does not affect the assessed value of property,” she said. “Indiana is a use state, where taxes are tied to the use of the property, not the zoning of the property.”

County Building Commissioner Conner Barnette said the proposed map amendments look similar to those along major thoroughfares in the county’s four municipalities and nowhere else in the county because until the waste collection project was being considered, the Uniontown area did not have the infrastructure to support development.

Commissioners approved the first reading of the ordinance. Second reading is planned for the next commissioners meeting at 9 a.m. Sept. 19 in the former Jackson Circuit Court on the second floor of the courthouse. Commissioners then have the option to waive the third reading.

Barnette also received permission to purchase an air chiller for $26,775 to replace one of two chillers at the courthouse annex. Harrell-Fish Inc. of Bedford will complete the installation.

In another matter, commissioners approved the use of the courthouse lobby as a vote center for early voting and on Election Day Nov. 7.

That request came from the election board from county Clerk Piper Acton, who also is a member of the board.

Commissioners also received information from J.L. Brewer, director of Jackson-Jennings Community Corrections, about the Association of Indiana Counties Tax Refund Exchange and Compliance System, aka TRECS.

“Basically, what this allows us to do is obtain funds through the state of Indiana for people who have not paid their debt to us in full as far as their fees,” Brewer said.

He said this year, the county is on track to collect 78% of those fees that have been charged out. In 2022, the county collected 76%, and in 2021, it was 77%. In 2020, there was only a 37% collection rate.

“That was a COVID year when people weren’t fully employed or had the funds,” Brewer said. “But we have people who do have funds now. Some of them just don’t want to pay.”

He said people cannot be put in jail for not paying. The TRECS program allows the state to withhold state tax refunds to pay those bills similar to programs withholding unpaid child support.

“Several other counties have this program in place,” Brewer said. “They’ve had pretty good luck with it.”

He said the community corrections program does not ask the county for money and tries to make it on their own.

“We’re supported by the people that owe these fees,” Brewer said.

Commissioner Matt Reedy said he would like some time to look at the program before voting on it, possibly at the Sept. 19 commissioners meeting.

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