Rezoning proposal denied

A proposal to rezone property along Burkart Boulevard to allow for commercial development failed to receive enough support from the Seymour Plan Commission on Thursday night.

The mile stretch of road connects State Road 11 to North O’Brien Street, allowing traffic to quickly get to the east side of the city without having to drive into town. The property is currently zoned R-S or rural suburban, which is a zoning classification not used in city limits, said Jeremy Gray, head of the city’s planning and zoning department.

The property, all privately owned, was annexed by the city after the construction of the Burkart bypass, which was finished three years ago.

Several residents spoke in opposition of changing the zoning to R-1 or single-family residential along the south side of the road with a 200-foot strip along both sides that would be zoned C-3 to allow for a variety of businesses to locate there.

Brent Kilgas owns several parcels of property along the road equaling around 90 acres. Most of the land is used as farm ground.

“These are parcels that were taken for the building of Burkart Boulevard, and now, you’re wanting to put another restriction on our property by zoning 200 feet, and if you look at that with the retention ponds, it doesn’t leave us with anything very usable,” Kilgas said.

He said the zoning doesn’t match up with the recent development of the Burkart Crossing apartment complex on the north side of the road, east of O’Brien Street.

“They didn’t have to have a 200-foot setback for the apartments, so that doesn’t seem to be very consistent,” he said.

Kilgas said he wouldn’t be opposed to the city rezoning the property C-1 instead of C-3, which would allow for greater flexibility, he said.

C-1 zoning is for smaller, neighborhood commercial uses that could include public buildings or professional offices, instead of C-3, which is used for highway commercial districts.

Charles Moman lives at the end of 16th Street and said he doesn’t want to see the Burkart Boulevard route look like another major commercial highway in Seymour.

“This is a pretty way to come into Seymour, and now all of a sudden, it sounds like it’s going to become a commercial route and will end up looking like Tipton,” he said. “I feel like we have enough gas stations and stores and other places. We’re still a rural community, and I think this will ruin the whole feeling of that area.”

Resident Todd Behmlander said he lives behind Seymour-Redding Elementary School and feels rezoning and development would hurt, not help, taxpayers in the area.

He said property owners in the area already pay some of the highest taxes in the city.

“If property values go up, then assessments will go up, and taxes will go up,” he said. “I really don’t see the benefit to the residents there. It’s a detriment to have those businesses along Burkart Boulevard, which is our backyard.”

Resident John Baker lives in the Northbrooke addition about a quarter of a mile away from the proposed rezoning.

“We have a hard time understanding why you want to put businesses there with semis that are going through there, a lot of time not controlling their speed,” he said.

Delbert Kilgas, Brent’s father, said the rezoning would allow for commercial development to come within 100 feet of his backyard and would lower his property’s value.

Kilgas and his wife, Marlis, who live in the 600 block of Enos Road, also said they question if there is much demand for businesses in the area at this time.

Betty Johnson said she lives on East 15th Street and uses the Burkart bypass often.

“It’s a nice, scenic route,” she said.

She is concerned that commercial development of the property will lead to vacant buildings and increased traffic.

“I feel like that was put into place to smooth out traffic from Highway 50 to State Road 11, and if that gets populated with commercial buildings, that takes away from the original flow of that traffic,” she said.

She also said she had concerns about wildlife, including foxes and deer, in the area and the elimination of habitat for commercial development.

Although the plan commission’s vote was 5-3 in support of the petition to rezone, it takes six votes to pass, so it will be heard by city council Nov. 23 with an unfavorable recommendation from the commission.

Commissioners Kenny Pfaffenberger, Rick Schleibaum and Mark Hays voted against the rezone.

Pfaffenberger said he agreed with the Kilgases and would rather see the property zoned C-1 to better control development in the area.

“C-3, in my opinion, is a little broad for this,” he said. “Just talking to landowners and residents in the area, I understand why the city is proposing C-3 because it opens it up. But I think C-1 would be a better fit and let them come back if they want to request C-2 or C-3 as a variance.”

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