It was a long three hour meeting on Monday, Oct. 24, for members of the Morgan County Board of Zoning Appeals.
VCNA Prairie Aggregate Holdings has been in operation at its present location at the intersection of State Road 144 and Smokey Row Road in Madison Township for several years.
Over the years in operation, the company has received approval for numerous requests for rezonings and variances to allow it to continue operations. Some of those requests have been opposed by residents in the area.
The Bargersville Water Utility, which has constructed a pumping station on the east side of Smokey Row Road, has opposed many of those requests. The utility’s wells are located in or near White River in Morgan County.
The company has worked to meet all requirements set by the state and federal governments for the operation of a mineral extraction facility. It has also worked to meet all current requirements set by the county’s zoning ordinance.
To date, it has been successful in obtaining the rezoning and variance requests it has asked for.
Monday night, the company requested a change in what had been previously approved for the set back distance at an earlier meeting.
The old zoning ordinance required a 1,000-foot set back distance from the nearest residence to the location of the work.
The new zoning ordinance has reduced that distance to 50 feet.
The company requested the distance for it to be set at 150 feet, about 850 feet closer to their nearest neighbor’s home.
The company said its processing plant would not move. The only change would be it would expand the lake area where it removes its product.
The company would move the dredge into the newly opened area to remove their material.
The life of the business would be expanded by eight to ten years, the company said.
By law, there are several “findings of fact” that have to be met for the board to grant approval for variance requests. It is up to the board members to decide if the petitioners have met these findings.
In the company’s case, their request is for a change in the special exception that allows them to operate as a mineral extraction business.
For special exceptions, there are six findings of fact that must be met.
The county’s planning department reviewed the company’s petition and determined it did not meet three of the six findings. The staff recommended the special exception not be approved.
During the meeting, the company said it had hand delivered 54 letters to surrounding property owners to ask their concerns, receiving eight replies.
While none of the replies were against the request, they did ask questions about possible dust and water problems in the future.
A representative from the Bargersville Water Utility said while the town is not opposing the request, it was concerned about possible pollution to the area’s water supply.
The company said it had a procedure in place to reduce dust and dirt on the roads, and did not use chemicals in their process and the did monitor well water in the area.
After about an hour of discussion, the board voted 4-1 to approve the request. Board member Fred Roberts voted against the request. Roberts said he felt the company had not met the requirements of the findings of fact.
Meat process plant fails
For years, a family-owned meat processing plant operated at 1083 South Old State Road 67. Several years ago, the family quit the processing business and the property was used for other purposes.
Then James Grider purchased the property with an idea to reopen it as a processing facility.
The problem is the property was never zoned for that type of business.
According to the planning department, the property is zoned for light industrial.
According to the planning department, much of the early records of the property are non-existent. It was thought the business continued operation as a non-conforming use of the land.
The problem for Grider is that because the length of time the business was out of operation, the grandfathering clause of the non-conforming use has expired.
Grider will need a use variance to begin operations.
He requested the board grant him that variance.
Around 10 of Grider’s neighbors opposed his request. They cited trash from his property blowing on to their land. They said his animals had been coming onto their property and they had to call animal control on many occasions.
Several said dead animals have been observed laying around on his land.
Several said the area is no longer all “rural” as many new homes have been built in the area.
He reminded the board the property had been used for years at a processing plant.
The planning department felt he had met all the findings of fact and urged his request be approved.
After a long discussion, the board felt he had not met all the findings and voted to deny his request.
Wrecker business gets approval
Board members gave approval to G. Curtis Properties LLC for a variance to continue operations at 9680 North Little Point Road.
According to the history of the property, years ago, it started as a vehicle repair business. Over the years, it grew into the business it is today, a vehicle repair, wrecker service, vehicle storage and salvage yard operation.
The problem is the property is zoned Business – 3. The state is requiring the business to obtain proper zoning before it reissues its salvage license.
There was no one in opposition to the request. A condition to granting the variance is the company must install an eight foot tall screening fence between it and I-70. The intent of the board is to screen the business’s operation from those traveling on the interstate.
Disc golf allowed to expand
Several months ago, Steve Boylan, 7411 North Kivett Road, made several requests for variances from the board. One request, which was granted, was to operate a disc golf course on his land. The approval came with the stipulation he could only hold one tournament a year.
Boylan asked the board to consider allowing him to hold more than one tournament a year,
Several people spoke in favor of his request.
Board members were happy the neighbors were happy with the new business. They amended their earlier approval to allow him six tournaments a year.
The next scheduled meeting of the Morgan County Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 28, at the Morgan County Administration Building, 180 S. Main St., Martinsville.
This article originally appeared on The Reporter Times: Morgan County BZA approves special exception to allow for expansion of business