COUNTY NEWS: Resident asks to reconsider rezoning

Resident asks to reconsider rezoning

The Brown County Commissioners voted to reaffirm their decision to approve a rezone of 24 acres near State Road 135 South as general business following a request from a resident to reconsider their decision.

Melanie Voland attended the May 18 commissioners meeting to ask the commissioners to review their decision to approve the rezone despite a negative recommendation from the Area Plan Commission.

The commissioners approved the rezone request on May 4. On April 26, the APC reviewed the rezone request before unanimously making a negative recommendation to the commissioners. The commissioners ultimately approve or deny rezone recommendations from the APC.

General business zoning allows for a multitude of uses including residential, agricultural, public facilities, businesses and recreation.

The 24-acre property sits on Morris Lane just off of State Road 135 South, has two residential homes, a horse stable with five stalls and a pasture.

It is also adjacent to the Brown County State Park.

Luke and Christine Neubauer are from Louisville, Kentucky and are in the process of purchasing the property from Mike Morris. Neighbors to the property attended the APC meeting in April and two spoke against the general business rezone, including Voland. She was unable to attend the May 4 commissioners meeting.

The owners requested the property to be rezoned as general business from residential so that they can use both homes on the property as tourist rentals.

The APC had recommended that the property owners request a planned unit development instead of the general business rezone.

Voland said there are 11 residents in six homes in the neighborhood between the two creek slabs on 135 South, which she referred to as “retirement island.”

She told the commissioners last month there needs to be a balance of Brown County residential needs as well as sustainable economic development in the county. She noted that the 2011 comprehensive plan states the county should promote land us that enhances the quality of life based on the county’s natural beauty.

“I support goals in the 2011 plan to protect the integrity and stability of Brown County land. That land use is directed with careful regard to preserving natural and cultural heritage,” she said.

She added the Neubauer’s do not intend to move to Brown County or send their children to school here, but their plans for the property will directly impact her backyard and the driveway shared with the property. Voland also noted that flooding in the area has increased in less than eight years with more flooding expected. She said she was worried any development on the property could cause more flooding in the future.

“I am not sure how changing the zoning enhanced or protects Brown County as a place for folks who retire. I see no benefit to the zoning change,” she said before asking the commissioners to explain why they voted in favor.

“I struggle to know if I should sell my property at this point. … We all live very quiet lives on this area we call ‘retirement island.’”

Commissioner Diana Biddle noted that the commissioners ultimately decided to approve the rezone with a condition limiting the number of homes on the property to five.

She continued that she thought a planned unit development would open up the area “to significant development” and that the limit of five houses will prevent that. Voland said she was OK with residential homes being built.

“It is the traffic of tourist homes that concerns me. The lack of ability to expand the driveway,” she said.

“I would welcome a family who wants to live there and send children to Brown County Schools. I am less inclined to welcome five tourist homes in my backyard particularly because it is a flash flood zone now.”

Commissioner President Jerry Pittman said that the commissioners’ “primary goal is to follow the law and not to base decisions on hearsay or individual opinions or desires.”

“This property happens to meet all criteria for general business zoning. It fronts a state highway, it is in an area where multiple businesses are located,” he said, noting that the planning and zoning staff also supported the rezone.

Voland noted that only one property between the two slabs on State Road 135 South was zoned general business and that it is not being used in that capacity.

“The comprehensive plan is outdated and needs to be revised. Either we are supporting a retirement population and those who have chosen to retire in place or we’re not. We have to come to some understanding in order for Brown County to be economically viable in the future,” she said.

“I don’t see a balance.”