Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

September 10, 2013

Planning panels' decisions delayed

Debbie Blank The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — Sometimes city planning decisions are easy, but on other occasions past facts that factor in to yes and no votes are murky. Of three Sept. 5 agenda items, one was tabled by the Batesville Advisory Plan Commission and another application for the Batesville Board of Zoning Appeals was withdrawn at the last possible moment.

A petition submitted by the Chateau Commons homeowners’ association asked that Chateau Boulevard and Shelley Avenue be accepted into the city’s street system. BAPC needed to send a recommendation to the Batesville council and board of works about the request. According to attorney Henry Pictor, representing the owners, “The developer is out of the picture. The homeowners’ association doesn’t own any land and doesn’t have any money.”

BAPC member Kevin Chaffee asked if the private streets “have underdrains, 7 inches of pavement, storm sewers and utilities?” Tim Macyauski, director of operations for building and street departments, said yes. BAPC President David Raver reported, “The road is up to (city) code.” The issue is it dead-ends at vacant lots so there is no way for large vehicles, such as fire trucks, to turn around.

Mayor Rick Fledderman asked who owns the lots where a cul-de-sac could be constructed. Main Street Capital Investments was Macyauski’s guess.

Member Tony Gutzwiller was concerned about public safety with the lack of any kind of turnaround. “If we take it over, is the city going to put it in?” Chaffee felt homeowners there should make the improvement before the city accepts the street. Fledderman recommended tabling a decision because “we’ve got some other things going on with this property that we need to get clarified.” Clerk-treasurer Ron Weigel said, “The property may have not gotten recorded.”

Jerry Ertel, owner of Gotcha Covered paintball store, asked BBZA for a special exception variance so he also could purchase precious metals at 1030 State Road 46 E.

Ertel, who was absent, was represented by David Hosmer, who owns other precious metal businesses and would train Ertel. “He’s just trying to buy gold and silver and precious metals. He’s going to keep his same hours.”

Raver reported Ertel gained a variance in 2005 to operate the paintball store in a Business-4 zone, which is designated for offices and clinics, but not direct retail sales and services.

“Three on that committee are no longer here.” Reading minutes, he summarized, “The vote was not unanimous that night, but it carried.” Members who approved the variance viewed paintball accessories as “a pretty narrow product line,” not like a grocery or shoe store. When it was approved, BBZA set limitations: minimal signage, maintain residential building character, six parking spaces so cars don’t back out on State Road 46, open at most 20 hours per week and the variance applied only to that business. Raver said the panel could repeat the stipulations with this proposed gold and silver shop expansion.

Member Ken Wanstrath said he doesn’t want Ertel’s operation to get larger, either with more or larger signs or longer hours. The president mused, “This is marginally retail sales and service. We allow piano lessons ..., building Web sites, doing taxes, all those administrative” tasks in homes in B-4 areas. “This is closer to retail” than those.

Member Doug Amberger, who owns a nearby title insurance business, abstained from voting and member Darrick Cox was absent. With just three members able to vote (Raver, Wanstrath and Mary K. Cambron), Raver explained all must vote yes on all five factors for the variance to be granted.

As the voting began, two factors were decided 2-1, not unanimously (the situation is unique and the code’s strict application would constitute an unnecessary hardship to the property). Raver interrupted asking the final question to point out, “In the past when we denied a variance, they couldn’t come back and request it again for another year” unless the proposal was changed. Seeing the writing on the wall, Hosmer decided to withdraw the request before the application was defeated.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.

One vote • Bruce Rippe of Park Avenue Realty asked that two underground 16-foot-wide alleys be vacated. One runs north to south from East Pearl Street to South Street and the other runs east to west from Eastern Avenue to Depot Street in the RomWeber Marketplace and RomWeber Flats area. BAPC voted to recommend to the city council to abandon the alleys, but existing utility easements, if any, must be honored.