Town receives first building permit applications


Within the first month of zoning going live, Brownstown officials received applications for three building permits, an alley vacation and a zoning variance.

A zoning ordinance and a zoning map are in place for the first time in the town’s nearly 200 years of existence. It’s now required to obtain a building permit for construction, addition, alteration, removal or demolition of a building or structure.

The town’s seven-member plan commission met at the end of January to hear from Leah Butler, who works at Scott Sales and Service at 221 W. Commerce St. She shared plans to demolish homes at 314 S. Poplar St. and 209 W. Commerce St. to allow the used car business to expand its sales lot.

The plan commission approved the demolition of the homes, and Ben Lewis, the town’s plan commissioner, signed the building permits.

The next step for the business is to have an alley in the 300 block of South Poplar Street vacated so customers can drive in and out of the lot.

“It hasn’t been used in I know two years for sure,” Butler said of the alley. “I believe two years before that, a car just stayed parked there.”

Butler said the business has maintained and graveled the alley. She said she spoke to one of the adjacent property owners, and they were OK with vacating the alley, but she has yet to hear from another adjacent property owner.

Town attorney Rodney Farrow said Butler would have to have the property owners’ approval in writing. She also would have to fill out a variance form, which Lewis has yet to complete.

Once those steps are completed, Butler would have to go in front of the plan commission, and a public hearing would be conducted.

The other building permit approved by the plan commission was for Tim and Amy Robinson to build a garage on their property at 602 Poplar Cove Drive.

The town’s five-member board of zoning appeals soon will hear its first request. Teena Schulz has asked for a variance of a home at 424 E. Commerce St. to operate a flea-market type business.

The entire house would be renovated for people to rent flea market booths, trees along the road would be cut down and a parking lot would be added to the east side of the home.

Schulz is looking for a zoning variance from R10 residential to highway business.

Clerk-Treasurer David Willey said there used to be a craft store in the east side of the home, but that was before the town had zoning.

“It just shows you how much stuff has gone on in town over the years and you didn’t even realize it was happening,” town council President John Nolting said. “All of a sudden, we’ve been a month into this, and already, we’ve gotten a number of things that (the plan commission and board of zoning appeals) are having to deal with.”

The town council passed the zoning ordinance in November, and it went live Jan. 1. The zoning designations are R5 and R10 residential, industrial, downtown business, highway business and mobile home.

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.

Building permit applications are available at Brownstown Town Hall. A commercial building permit is $100, and a residential building permit is $75.

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.

Lewis reviews all applications and determines 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 plan commission, board of zoning appeals and town council. Lewis said he won’t have any voting authority.

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.

Lewis is still developing documentation for variance and special exception applications, and those will be available at town hall.

At a glance

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.

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