The Batesville Advisory Plan Commission had one item on its agenda Nov. 7, an application of the Leila M. Kelley Special Trust to subdivide 10 acres at 1305 Tekulve Road and rezone it from Residential-2 to Industrial-2. The issue also had to be considered by the Batesville Board of Zoning Appeals.

Bill Flannery, representing the trust, reported, “They have received an offer” to sell the 90% wooded land to Wood-Mizer at any time in the next five years, but it needs to be rezoned for industrial use.

The same proposal happened in 2017. The trust sold 10 acres to the company after city groups approved the rezoning.

Wood-Mizer leaders announced plans in February to expand their manufacturing facility in Batesville to 132,000 square feet by adding 53,000 square feet dedicated to manufacturing the company’s range of sawmill and wood processing equipment. The facility grew to the west and north of the Wood-Mizer building that is located on Enterprise Drive in Batesville Commerce Center near I-74.

The land owned by the trust is west of the addition and north of the city’s proposed plant to treat water that will be piped from an aquifer near Brookville.

Apparently, Wood-Mizer officials are getting organized for another possible expansion.

BAPC and BBZA President David Raver reminded members of both panels, “We don’t have the authority to change the zoning,” but they would make a recommendation to the city council, which does.

Beth West asked if there would be any kind of a sound barrier between a future industrial building and neighbors.

Tim Macyauski, the city’s director of operations, who oversees buildings and streets, and also is a BAPC member, said Wood-Mizer would be required to do screening, fence or shrubs, because the I-2 zone would be adjacent to an R-2.

Both groups approved replatting the 10 acres and giving a positive recommendation to the council.

BBZA then had to decide about two sign variance applications.

Batesville Christian Church leaders wanted to replace an existing sign along State Road 46 with an electronic changeable message sign in its R-2 zone at 1294 Columbus Ave.

Macyauski asked Green Sign Co., Greensburg, account representative Keri Scudder, representing the church, for the design.

She was unsure of the sign’s placement, but will submit it to the building commissioner soon.

Raver said, “The only question for the zoning board: This is in an R-2 district. That sign would not be permitted normally” in that district. “The sign sizewise is fine. The electronic portion is fine. The reason we’re hearing it is because it’s in a residential area.”

He observed there’s “a fair amount of history” with these types of buildings being in residential spots.

BAPC member Paul Hardebeck, temporarily serving on the board in Ken Wanstrath’s absence, asked about restrictions. Macyauski pointed out, “It’s regulated by our ordinance. You could have ... (the sign’s illumination) shut off ... or dimmed at a certain time.” Hardebeck asked if any other electronic signs had stipulations placed on variances by BBZA.

Raver recalled, “I think we dimmed the one at the middle school.”

According to him, the sign can only be used to announce church business, not for advertisng other businesses.

Church elder Chris Campbell said with the sign’s software, leaders will have the ability to dim it at night “so that it does not interfere with traffic on (State Road) 46.”

Amanda Thomas, 1297 Columbus Ave., who lives across the street, said, “We don’t want anything really bright. The parking lot has lights on all the time now. That’s enough light coming in our windows at night.”

She asked where the sign would be located. The answer: The double-sided sign close to the parking lot will be perpendicular to and viewed from S.R. 46.

Scudder explained the sign will dim on its own as the sun sets and will be 7% as bright as the daytime sign.

Macyauski said, “If we get complaints, obviously we’re going to ask them to dim it even more.”

Scudder said there have been “no complaints whatsoever” about the brightness of a similar sign at the Greensburg public library in a residential area.

After members voted on four factors, the variance was granted.

Bruce Rippe, developer of Depot Square, 54 apartments that are being built in an existing building already containing RomWeber Flats between Depot Street and Park Avenue in an I-1 zone, asked permission to install two temporary heavyweight vinyl banners on one of the building’s corners, one facing Pearl Street and the other facing Depot Street.

“The idea is to really promote the market rate apartments we’ve been working on for the last four years. ... This has been a project the city has been trying to get off the ground” for almost the past decade. “We think it’s important that we make a statement with these signs. We want to be able to lease this up quickly.”

Each 20-by-20-foot banner totalling 400 square feet is larger than the city code’s 30-square-feet maximum.

Member Chris Fairchild wanted to know how long the banners would be up. “Now through September,” Rippe responded, although they could get removed for awhile when windows are replaced.

Raver noted, “This is a big deal for the city.” Adding more housing in Batesville “is a huge part of the comprehensive plan.” He reflected, “We care about every business we have ... but some simply have greater impact on the community as a whole than others.” Leasing 54 apartments will mean more people downtown to boost the local economy, Raver pointed out.

“The other issue we have to keep in mind, we are setting a standard for potentially future requests for banners.”

BAPC member Jim Fritsch suggested a six-months time limit on the temporary signs, which could be renewed. Macyauski said the maximum time frame is 18 months, according to the ordinance.

The variance for two temporary 400-square-foot (at most) banners was approved for a maximum of 12 months, but the developer can return for an extension.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-717-3113.