Friday, October 31, 2014

Group will help with zoning plan
Posted on July 13, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — More than a year after changes to Elkhart County’s zoning ordinance were voted down, a group of almost 30 people has been asked to take the reins for the second go-around.

The Elkhart County Plan Commission appointed members to a pair of committees that will oversee updates to the zoning ordinance, which has guided the county’s development for the past 40 years. The group will aim to make the ordinance easier to understand with more modern definitions and information about zoning rules. Chris Godlewski, the county’s planning director, said the committees will also try to resolve conflicts that came up last year, including pyramid zoning, residential uses in agricultural areas and zoning rules around airports.

A mix of realtors, builders and others will form a policy committee to shape the zoning ordinance. The technical committee will include county staff spanning several departments to further guide the ordinance’s development. The two committees will also include members of the plan commission, the county Board of Zoning Appeals and board attorney Jim Kolbus, who will be a non-voting member.

“I think the goal was to be as wide ranging as possible,” Godlewski said.

Though no one was subtracted from Godlewski’s proposed list of committee members, plan commission member Steve Warner was not initially satisfied with the appointment of an Elkhart County Farm Bureau spokesman, Dwight Moudy.

“I personally have a problem with placing someone on the policy committee belonging to a group that threatened to file suit against the plan commission regarding the zoning ordinance,” Warner said.

Last year, the Farm Bureau charged that the revisions to the county’s zoning ordinance infringed on land use rights and put property values at risk. In May, Moudy offered to help the plan commission as it moves forward with updating the ordinance again.

“I don’t think the Farm Bureau would have been as active against the ordinance had we included them in the process at the beginning last time,” plan commission president Jeff Burbrink said.

Plan commission member Blake Doriot said he did everything he could to keep people informed about the zoning ordinance by passing out copies of the revisions and posting the document online.

Some members of the plan commission also questioned whether Fairfield Community School Board member David Thwaits should be among the list of committee members.

“My concern is that he may be a little too strongly opposed to most everything we’ve done,” explained Mike Yoder, plan commission member.

Plan commission member Dennis Sharkey noted that it is important to balance the committees with people who were both for and against the zoning ordinance changes proposed last year. Burbrink agreed, adding that Thwaits would bring a different perspective to the table.

“I would rather have the arguments, the discussions and that kind of stuff in the committees than a year and half later at a public meeting,” Burbrink said. “That’s the way I look at it, so if he’s going to be one of the people that’s going to come in there 18 months later and complain about what we’ve written, then let’s get him in there.”

The two committees will meet each month and report back to the plan commission with updates. Godlewski said he expects for the revisions to wrap up by the end of next year.

MEET THE COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Policy Committee

Ÿ Mark Salee, Middlebury town manager

Ÿ Tim Miller, builder

Ÿ Dean Slabach, realtor

Ÿ Dwight Moudy, Elkhart County Farm Bureau spokesman

Ÿ Scott VanOmmeran, Elkhart County Parks superintendent

Ÿ David Thwaits, Fairfield Community School Board member

Ÿ Iverson Grove, commercial appraiser

Ÿ Dave Bontrager Sr. or Jr., Amish builders

Ÿ Bill Kuhns, commercial realtor

Ÿ Kenny Jones Jr., surveyor at Wightman Petrie and Associates

Ÿ Doug Miller, Elkhart County Plan Commission member

Ÿ Randy Wilson, business owner and Elkhart County Redevelopment Commission member

Ÿ Andy Myers, realtor

Ÿ Ed Pippinger, former Elkhart County Plan Commission member

Ÿ An Elkhart County Board of Zoning Appeals member to be appointed

Ÿ Jim Kolbus, Elkhart County Plan Commission attorney (non-voting member)

Technical Committee

Ÿ Chris Godlewski, Elkhart County Planning Department director

Ÿ Brian Mabry, Elkhart County Planning Department manager

Ÿ Duane Burrow, Elkhart County planner

Ÿ Mark Kanney, Elkhart County planner

Ÿ Kathy Wilson, Elkhart County Planning Department office manager

Ÿ Tony Campanello, Elkhart County Plan Commission member

Ÿ Katie Niblock, Elkhart County Highway Department engineer

Ÿ Bill Hartsuff, Elkhart County Health Department septic supervisor

Ÿ Eric Kurtz, Elkhart County stormwater coordinator

Ÿ Hans Musser, Elkhart County survey technical coordinator

Ÿ Ronnie Weiss, Elkhart County code enforcer

Ÿ Barry Pharis, Brads-Ko Engineering and Surveying general manager

Ÿ An Elkhart County Board of Zoning Appeals member to be appointed

Ÿ Jim Kolbus, Elkhart County Plan Commission attorney (non-voting member)