County commissioners oppose Burkart Opportunity Zone agenda


BROWNSTOWN — Jackson County commissioners recently asserted their opposition to the Burkart Opportunity Zone Agenda.

During a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday morning at the Jackson County Courthouse, Commissioner Drew Markel read a letter of non-support for the agenda.

The opportunity zone is located in Seymour and centered on the Burkart Bypass and trail on the east and south sides of the city. It encompasses the Eastside and Freeman Field industrial parks, Cummins and Walmart Distribution Center, and is one of the city’s fastest growing areas.

Markel said while the letter of non-support signifies the board of commissioners’ opposition to the agenda, it does not hinder the city of Seymour from advancing the agenda.

“Our community, as you all know, is incredibly diverse and has experienced rapid immigrant growth over several decades,” Markel said. “This growth has brought both positives and negatives; however, pushing the community towards more rapid growth to satisfy the desire of industrial and manufacturing companies may not be what’s best for our community.”

Reading from the letter of non-support, Markel said the commissioner’s opposition to the agenda stems from the agenda’s failure to sufficiently encompass the interests and needs of broader Jackson County, including potential tax implications, increased issues with capacity in school systems and overall safety of the community for both the city and the county.

Markel spoke about the proposed apartment complexes in the zone with the “opportunity” to be tax-abated. He told those in attendance at the meeting they and other taxpayers will foot property tax bills not paid by those living in complexes with potential tax abatement opportunities.

He also claimed Seymour’s reported census population of approximately 21,000 people is inaccurate, with the number actually being around 30,000.

“The population of Seymour is not its censused population, period,” Markel said. “So when you look at that, and you look at services rendered, we have issues now. As a commissioner, after diving deeper into this, we have to make sure our county services are correct for the population of the city of Seymour.”

The board of commissioners are willing to work collaboratively with the city of Seymour and other stakeholders to explore alternative approaches for economic development for all residents of Jackson County, Markel said.

The letter of non-support was unanimously approved by the board of commissioners.

Addressing those in attendance at the meeting, Markel said “You have to be involved in your community. I know at times it is difficult; it is hard to get to these meetings. But when you’re not involved, this is what happens.”

The Burkart Opportunity Zone Agenda was posted online by the city of Seymour in September 2023. It can be read here: During a recent meeting, Seymour’s council also voted to not support the agenda.

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