Rezoning moves to city council

A Seymour man’s plan to develop property that once housed a block and brick maker has met some resistance from neighbors and city officials.

Matt Findley’s petition to rezone 1.25 acres at 600 W. Eighth St. from industrial to commercial zoning received a vote of 4-3 from the Seymour Plan Commission on Thursday.

Because the request failed to receive at least six votes from the nine-member board, it will go before the city council April 27 with an unfavorable recommendation. Commissioners Don Bruce and Nathan Frey did not attend Thursday’s meeting.

Findley said his intention is to construct a building to operate an insulating business from the property and build storage units for boats and recreational vehicles.

“I want to start out with a 32-by-60-foot storage building and a 40-by-24-foot office in front of that,” Findley said.

By changing the zoning, Findley said, he would be able to meet the city’s setback requirement of at least 30 feet from the street. For industrial zoning, the setback requirement is 75 feet.

The property most recently was operated by Devening Block in Columbus. Before that, it was the site of Kruwell Block Inc.

Chad and Kimberly Cooper bought the property and tore down the buildings to clean the property up before selling it.

Besides using the property for his business, he had considered building duplexes there, Findley said.

Commissioner John Reinhart said he would much prefer to see the property rezoned for residential purposes.

“With the old block yard gone, I look at it as an opportunity for neighborhood revitalization,” Reinhart said. “I’m not sure a storage facility will add to the neighborhood, and I’m just not sure if a rezone for commercial is a good thing.”

Commissioner Kenny Pfaffenberger said he was concerned that if the board did not approve the rezoning, any industrial operation could move in and set up shop on the property.

But Reinhart said that wouldn’t be the case because of the setback requirement.

“They would have to get a variance first from the Board of Zoning Appeals,” Reinhart said.

Pfaffenberger said he would rather see Findley get a use variance for the property instead of rezoning it.

“That way we can better control what the property can be used for,” he said.

Commissioner Mark Hays said he contacted several people who live in the area to make them aware of the situation. But none of those people attended the meeting.

“I think they look at it as a situation where it would be better than industrial, but I will totally agree that if this was someone coming to us trying to change from residential to commercial, we would consider it spot zoning,” he said. “It’s a unique situation.”

Reinhart agreed Findley’s proposal would be better than what was there, but he said he still would rather see homes be built on the property.

“When I think of just a commercial establishment sitting in the middle of a neighborhood, and that’s what seems to happen to some of the older neighborhoods, I don’t think I go along with it,” Reinhart said.

Bob Shollenberger, who lives on Juniper Drive, just off Eighth Street, west of the property said he and other neighbors weren’t in total opposition of Findley’s plans, but they too would rather see it rezoned for residential use.

“We really would prefer to see something like townhouses or something like that, just for the sake of the neighborhood,” he said.

If the property is used for a storage facility, Shollenberger said, he and his neighbors don’t want to see it look like a junk yard.

“If it’s a fully enclosed building that is maintained, we would probably be OK with that,” he said. “We do appreciate that you have done something to clean up the property.”

Findley said the property would not be used to manufacture insulation but would just be a storage unit for his trucks and possibly to rent out bays for boats and RV storage.

Plan commission president Don Myers Jr. said that in his travels he has seen storage buildings that were attractive.

“I’ve seen some very good looking storage units that you wouldn’t mind having near your home at all,” he said.

Commissioner Gary Colglazier also said he didn’t think the rezoning would cause any problems.

“I’ve known Matt for many years, and he’s always taken care of what he’s done,” Colglazier said. “Personally, I think this would be a good fit. I think he will put up a nice building that will blend in, and you won’t even know it’s there.”

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.