A new year brought a new requirement for anyone wishing to build in Brownstown.
Building permits must be obtained for construction, addition, alteration, removal or demolition of a building or structure, effective Jan. 1. That comes after the Brownstown Town Council passed a zoning ordinance for the first time in November.
Applications for a building permit are available at Brownstown Town Hall. A commercial building permit is $100, and a residential building permit is $75.
Ben Lewis, a former town council member who was hired as the town’s plan commissioner, will review all applications and determine if they meet the guidelines of the zoning ordinance.
If a proposal does, a permit will be issued. If it doesn’t, the application will be reviewed by the town’s seven-member plan commission, five-member board of zoning appeals and five-member town council. Lewis said he won’t have any voting authority.
“All I can do is say, ‘Yes, this meets the ordinance. Go ahead and build or allow them to build.’ That’s about it,” he said. “If I notice something in the application that’s not right, then it will go up through the channels and be addressed.”
With the application, a person must attach a site plan that includes documents such as architectural drawings, a sketch, a blueprint and a surveyor’s study. A brief description of the building work also must be provided.
A building permit is required if the footprint of a structure is changed. That includes adding a garage or a room, putting up a fence or constructing a porch. Anyone wanting to add a permanent sign to property also needs a permit.
Town attorney Rodney Farrow said the town should make sure anything that is built doesn’t cross a sewer line. He said it has been a problem in Seymour where people build garages or place swimming pools over a sewer line. Lewis added that also has been an issue in Brownstown.
Council President John Nolting said street department employees typically pay attention to construction going on around town.
For those who violate the town’s zoning ordinance, there is an immediate $75 fine and then a $25-per-day fine until the issue is rectified.
“This will be one of the difficult things, as we’ve gone almost 200 years without zoning, and now all of a sudden, we’ve got zoning,” Nolting said.
Council member Bill Sweeney said it will be important to advertise about the zoning ordinance and building permits. The town’s new website is expected to go live this month, and council members agreed it would be good to provide an electronic version of the application for a building permit there.
New council member Matt Smith suggested the town draft a letter about the ordinance and building permit and give copies to local lenders, contractors and building supply businesses so they can present them to customers looking to build.
The process of establishing zoning began about four years ago. Lewis was on the town council when it was first discussed, but he had to resign from the council last year when he moved out of his ward.
Since he had put a lot of work into the zoning ordinance and map, he agreed to be the plan commissioner for the town to ensure the ordinance and map would be completed.
Lewis and the plan commission went through every property in town and zoned each to what the use should be according to the current use and size of the lot. The zoning designations are R5 and R10 residential, industrial, downtown business, highway business and mobile home.
Copies of the ordinance and map are available at town hall.
Lewis developed the documentation for building permits and applications. He said he needs to finish up the documentation for variance and special exception applications.
To obtain an application for a building permit in Brownstown, visit Brownstown Town Hall, 200 W. Walnut St.
Copies of the town’s new zoning ordinance and map are available at the town hall.
For information, call 812-358-5500.