Zoning backer named planner

BROWNSTOWN

Ben Lewis’ work with Brownstown isn’t done quite yet.

During his time on the Brownstown Town Council, one of his big projects was developing the town’s zoning ordinance and map. But this past spring, he had to resign his council seat because he moved out of Ward 2.

Since he had put in so much work on the ordinance and map, he wanted to ensure everything gets set for future development of the town.

Earlier this week, the town council approved Lewis to serve as plan commissioner. His pay will be $6,000 for a year, and he expects to work about 20 hours per week.

“I don’t foresee the position that I’m doing and I want to do as something that’s going to be long term,” Lewis said. “We’re going to get to a point, I feel, in the next two years, three years where really you’re going to need a part-time plan commissioner/building inspector.”

Lewis’ job will include engineering work to make sure every property in town is within the zoning ordinance.

When he was on the council, Lewis spent a lot of time outside of meetings and his own job to help establish the zoning ordinance and map.

A seven-member plan commission and a five-member board of zoning appeals were put in place this past fall, and Lewis attended and helped direct those meetings.

Four plan commissioners were appointed by the town council, and the other three are either a town employee or on the park or cemetery board. The board of zoning appeals members were appointed by the plan commission and the town council and its president, John Nolting.

Upon his resignation from the council, Lewis said the project stalled a little, so he hopes to get meetings back on track.

Lewis said his goal is to have the ordinance and map ready for the council to adopt within 90 days. After looking through the 117-page ordinance and the map, the council will conduct a public hearing and readings to make them official.

Lewis and the plan commission already have gone through every property in town and zoned them to what their use should be. The town’s ordinance consists of R5 and R10 residential, industrial, downtown business, highway business and mobile home districts.

Lewis said a property’s zoning designation is according to its current use and size of the lot.

As plan commissioner, Lewis said his first order of business will be to develop supplemental documentation and forms to the zoning ordinance that Eric Kelly of Ball State University and Duncan Associates did not create. Kelly served as an adviser to the town on establishing the ordinance.

Lewis added Kelly wasn’t hired to develop those documents and forms, which include building permits and applications, variance applications, special exception applications and request for hearing applications.

“I will be responsible for receiving these types of forms and surveying those plans and how they are documented in accordance to the Brownstown zoning ordinance and zoning map,” he said.

Lewis also will attend plan commission, board of zoning appeals and town council meetings when zoning is on the agenda. He would serve as a liaison between the three parties.

“Honestly, there will probably be other job-specific requirements and details that I’m not aware of right now,” he said. “I’ll accept those for what they are.”

Nolting said not having to hire an outside person as plan commissioner will be a cost savings to the town.

“Thanks, Ben. I know you’ve been busy with all of that,” Nolting said. “I appreciate everything you’ve done.”

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.