New Retail Project – Special Exception for the Proposed 185 Site Luxury RV Park Denied – For the Record

BlueElk

New Retail Project

Nov 8, 2021.  Nashville responsible for changing the zoning to B3 when the property was annexed. Per the County Planning Department, “Legislative bodies (in this case the Town Council) have the power to change zoning designations during Annexation procedures without input from the Plan Commission.”

  • This begs the question: What was the process used by the council to make this change? What was the legal basis and required steps? Were public meetings held? Were neighbors notified? Is documentation available?

Nov 4, 2021.  Nashville Technical Review Committee — 1 p.m., Town Hall. Agenda includes review of new buildings project by Stephen Alexander at 1415 East Old State Road 46.

  • DRC/Technical Review Board Meeting – Notes. The developers will be putting in two retail buildings in separate locations on the property and a swimming pool. No specifics on the type of retail were provided. The design will be a “Farmstead Look.” The building will be on the north side of Salt Creek in a “Flood Fringe area. Per the town, they can be hooked up to the sewers. And before getting building permits, they will have to meet all requirements to include  flood-way related issues. Not much anyone can do regarding the development. One of the buildings will be 3,700 sq.ft. and the other 4,000. Utility building is 1500 sq.ft.
  • BCM Facebook Post on the topic

Nov 2, 2021. Zoning boards approve, deny different tourism attractions By Staff Reports 

  • …   the Brown County Board of Zoning Appeals denied a special exception to allow a 185 spot luxury RV campground.

    The Salmon Room at the Brown County Office Building was full on Oct. 27 with around 40 residents.

    Over an hour 23 residents spoke against the proposed project with most of them living on or owning property near the proposed park area in a field off of Old State Road 46 near the intersection of Clay Lick Road.

    The petitioner, Stephen Alexander, was requesting a special exception for a private recreational development on 20 acres of his 71.76 acre parcel.

    The property is located within town limits and is zoned business (B3), which is a service and warehouse business use designation. Under that zoning all general business uses are allowed along with a commercial parking structure, car sales room, drive-in restaurants, storage warehouse, filling station and tourist home, according to the town’s zoning ordinance.

    The property is also in the floodway. Alexander has owned the field where the proposed park was going to go for 30 years.

    Proposed “new buildings” at Alexander’s Old 46 property are on the agenda for project review at the Nashville Technical Review Committee this Thursday, Nov. 4. The meeting is at 1 p.m. in the Nashville Town Hall, 200 Commercial Street.

  

Oct 29, 2021. I checked with the County Planning Office. They are the ones that approve any building permits in the B3 Zone. They provided the following information:

  • A few uses would not require building permits such as creating a public park with no structures. Any use that is considered development in the Floodplain (Fringe areas) would need local floodplain permits. Development in areas of the Floodway district would require permits from the DNR Water Division and local Floodplain Permits. Any structures over 400 square feet to be placed in the FF or FW would have to meet elevation requirements with the lowest floor being elevated to at least 2 feet above base flood elevation (BFE) or for commercial buildings, floodproofed by either elevation or mechanical means. In addition to floodplain permits and building permits for structures, the Nashville DRC would be involved in granting or denying certificates of appropriateness.

    Building permit questions to Lonnie Farlee if you wish to ask about code requirements for commercial buildings.

    Nashville also has a floodplain ordinance in Town Jurisdiction.

Oct 27, 2021. BZA Meeting. Unanimous NO vote. Brown  County residents at their finest provide “expert testimony” as to the issues and harmful impacts associated with this development.
  • If the BZA did not approve the special exception, developer threatened a “Plan B” where he could support projects that comply with the existing Gneral Business (GB) B3 Zoning – Service and Warehouse Business Use, without needing BZA Approval.

    • HOWEVER, He will need building permits that are approved by the County!  

Facebook Comments:  Brown County Matters and Brown County Chatter.

Note: We would have fewer conflicting opinions on topics such as this if we had a better Comprehensive Plan. Ours is 14 pages – around 100 would be more appropriate. Vagueness and generalities can be interpreted both ways. Although the plan meets minimum state requirements, it is immoral and unethical to have a plan used for decisions that does not represent the “Voice” of the residents.

Statement Tim J Clark 185 Site RV PARK Proposal – Forwarded via email to the BZA Board via The Planning Commission on 10/27/2021 at 10:53 am

Oct 27, 2021

 Dear BZA Board,

Based on a review of the County Comprehensive Plan, the submitted project documents, and comments from citizens posted on two Brown County Specific Facebook pages – Brown County Matters and Brown County Chatter (see enclosures), I do not believe this project as described in the submitted documents, is in alignment with the County Comprehensive Plan and in the best interests of the county.

Regarding the Facebook comments, I provided a copy (enclosures) in PDF files to allow for a quick review.  The original posts as well as reactions can be easily viewed on the respective Facebook group pages.

This 185 Site RV Park supports more tourism. A vision for more tourism is not specifically addressed in the County Comprehensive Plan. When is more tourism too much for the infrastructure (including roads) and acceptable by county residents? Andy Rogers recognized the importance of maintaining a balance. His vision was to accommodate tourism and not destroy the culture and “soul” of the county:

  • “People say, ‘Well, we can’t change.’ But we can change and still retain some of the flavor of Brown County. We need people to live here. I’m in the tourist business but we don’t want to turn this town over to the tourists. You can go to Gatlinburg if you want to see what happens to a town that turns it all over to business. It’s not a town anymore—it’s a shopping center.

     

  • “We don’t need to be slick and highly commercial. We need to be more country. Country is what we sell…. We need to maintain that. Once you destroy that, it won’t come back.”

 The County Comprehensive Plan (14 pages) represents the “Voice” of the residents. Although it meets the minimum requirements by the state, it is too short and vague. This allows for “flexibility” where arguments for or against a project can be equally valid. The plan does not provide the level of specificity that should be needed to make the best decision regarding the proposed 185 Site RV park. The plan does not specifically mention support for a project of this scope to be located on land that is used for agriculture and homes.

Specific Comments – Alignment with the Comprehensive Plan:

01. The 185 Site RV Park is not in alignment with the Count Comprehensive Plan (CCP). The plan mission statement identifies the following: “To provide guidance on decision making regarding Brown County land use, public service and zoning that enhances the quality of life for the residents based on the county’s natural beauty and rural atmosphere.”

  • How does this project enhance the quality of life for “residents”? Why would a 185 site RV (mobile home) Park be considered an enhancement to the “natural beauty and rural atmosphere”?
  • Enclosures 1 and 2 identify the comments from residents sharing their “Voice” regarding the project. Those that are opposed or have concerns provide more detail regarding their position than the individuals that just commented that they were in favor of the project.

02.  Plan -Introduction. “There is a special need to understand that planning should identify and encourage those land uses that have been positive over time, especially those that contribute to the distinctive character of this “special place” called Brown County. Planning can guard against rapid change and growth that are incompatible with existing infrastructure and the county’s “quality of life vision.

  • There is no history or evidence of how an RV Park of this size has had a positive influence in the county.
  • How does a 185 Site RV Park add to the distinctive character of this “special place called Brown County” or “quality of life vision”? This project supports tourism, e.g., more visitors – NOT residents.
  • There has been no evidence submitted, nor is it stated in the Comprehensive Plans, that that an increase in the number and size of RV parks are recognizes as a desired outcome.
  • Brown County State Park does support camping to include RV Parks, Camping Trailers and Tent Camping. Covid has increased the demand for sites that may be addressed in the future by the Park. Over 50% of the land in Brown County is owned by the state, feds, or non-profit conservation organizations. Land Use for agriculture, residents and appropriate development that serves ALL residents are included in goals in the Comprehensive Plan.

03. Traffic and Safety

  • Brown County’s two-lane roads adds a constraint to increases in more visitors. Hard Truth Hills and the Music Center now contribute to more year-round tourism which adds more congestion to our roads.
  • The location of the proposed 185 Site RV Park is in close proximity to the intersection of old 46, Highway 46 and the North Gate Entrance to Brown County State Park. This intersection has been known to be among the most congested (and accident prone) in the county at times. The State has refused to put in a stop light. And, if they did put in a light, this would add to the back-up traffic on 46 creating more frustration and adding increased travel time for residents.

Indiana Citizen’s Planner’s Guide. Part 2 Board of Zoning Appeals Basics by KK Gerhart-Fritz, AICP, identifies “Developmental Standards Variance Criteria per IC 36-7-4-918.5”. Specifically:

01. The approval will not be injurious to the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the community.

    • As stated above, the project is incompatible with the intent and goals expressed in the County Comprehensive Plan and the “Voice” of the residents.
    • Facebook comments from county specific Facebook groups (see enclosures) do identify residents’ concerns and opposition to this project. The public sentiment as well as the comprehensive plan, would likely support affordable housing for residents in this area.
    • The location of the proposed park does add to traffic congestion and risks to safety. The State may not approve a request for a traffic light and even if they did, this would add to traffic backups and impatient drivers that tend to create condition that may lead to more accidents

02. The use and value of the area adjacent to the property included in the variance will not be affected in a substantially adverse.

  • Adding a commercial property in an area consisting of agriculture and homes does have an adverse impact on the “natural beauty and rural atmosphere” as well as morale, that is intended to be protected by the Comprehensive Plan. Further, it sets a bad precedent.

03.The strict application of the terms of the zoning ordinance will result in practical difficulties in the use of the property.

  • “Practical difficulty” is adding to the congestion on Old 46 and 46 across from the North Gate to the State Park which will be the main ingress and regress routes. Traffic on old 46 will also be impeded. Luxury RV’s heading west on old 46 to Nashville would certainly add to the traffic congestion.

In conclusion, in addition to this planning guidance, the County Comprehensive Plan represents the “voice” of residents regarding their support for changes. The Facebook comments (see enclosures) provide a strong indication that a 185 Site RV Park is not acceptable.

Respectively,

Tim J. Clark

Enclosures

References:

Indiana Code 36-7-4-603 “Sec. 603. In preparing and considering proposals under the 600 series, the plan commission and the legislative body shall pay reasonable regard to:
  • (1) the comprehensive plan;
  • (2)  current conditions and the character of current structures and uses in each district;
  • (3) the most desirable use for which the land in each district is adapted;
  • (4) the conservation of property values throughout the jurisdiction; and
  • (5) responsible development and growth.”
 

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