Appeals board next step for Brownstown


Work continues on establishing a zoning ordinance in Brownstown.

The town’s plan commission and its leader, Ben Lewis, recently met for a training exercise with the zoning map.

The next step is for the plan commission and town council to appoint a board of zoning appeals. The plan commission then would be ready to present everything to the town council for approval.

A public hearing is set for the first part of October to give anyone a chance to provide input on the map and 117-page ordinance. Meeting information will have to be published twice, with the second one coming at least 10 days before the hearing, town attorney Rodney Farrow said.

Council President John Nolting said he expects people will want to look over the map and ordinance.

“They’ll have questions. They’ll be interested,” he said. “I’ve already had a couple different people ask me about their place where they live, what they own, how that’s going to be.”

When Lewis was a town councilman, he spent a lot of time developing the town’s zoning ordinance and map. Even though he had to resign his seat in the spring since he moved out of Ward 2, the council agreed in June to have him serve as plan commissioner so he could finish the work he started.

Lewis and the plan commission went through every property in town and zoned them to what their use should be, according to its current use and size of the lot. The zoning designations are R5 and R10 residential, industrial, downtown business, highway business and mobile home districts.

Once the map and ordinance are approved, Lewis will work on developing supplemental documentation and forms to the ordinance, including building permits and applications, variance applications, special exception applications and request for hearing applications.

He will be responsible for surveying any forms filed and ensuring they are in accordance to the ordinance and map.

“There seems to be really no standard on what towns use for zoning certificates and building permits,” he said. “I’ve studied dozens and dozens and dozens of different towns to see what theirs looks like and find something that works.”

Farrow also is Seymour’s attorney, and he said he would provide Lewis with a copy of that city’s forms to get an idea of what to include. Lewis said he would look at the county’s forms, too.

Residents’ cost for a permit or an application would be up for discussion, Lewis said.

Later, Lewis said the forms could be available in electronic version on the town’s website, which is currently being developed.

Councilman C.J. Foster said the website designer recently told him he was in the final stages of development and would soon be ready to present to the council what it would look like.

When Lewis was hired as the plan commissioner, he said he would attend plan commission, board of zoning appeals and town council meetings when zoning is on the agenda, serving as a liaison between the three parties.

Lewis will be paid $6,000 for a year and expects to work about 20 hours per week. He said he doesn’t foresee his position being long term, and he told the town council a part-time plan commissioner/building inspector may need to be hired two or three years down the road.

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7080.