Greene County Economic Development Corporation (GCEDC) Executive Director Brianne Jerrels has recently started talking about land-use management at local club and organization meetings in an attempt to teach people its purpose and learn why people feel one way or the other about the topic.
The word “zoning” can quickly separate a room into a group of “for” or “against,” so Jerrels hopes educating both sides will ease the tension.
Greene County is one of only seven Indiana counties which does not have some sort of land-use plan in place. A zoning ordinance draft was brought before the county commissioners in 2012, but it was tabled and not brought back before the group again.
Rather than bring the ordinance back to the county for review, Jerrels said this time she will take a different route: Education and asking questions.
“I don’t want to push an agenda on anyone. I just want to educate. When I go to clubs and organizations, I want to treat it like an open-ended discussion. As an economic developer, I’m in favor, but I also don’t want to be viewed as a dictator. At the beginning of the year, my board said we’ve got to address this issue,” she stressed.
In looking forward, Jerrels said she has come across some concerns about the county’s future if some form of plan is not put in place.
She raised concerns about Interstate-69 now intersecting a portion of the county. While the interstate is expected to bring in economic development opportunities, she said it may also open the county up for issues as well.
“With I-69 here, we are hearing about adult book stores. An adult book store looked at a county south of us,” Jerrels noted. “We are sitting ducks.”
In addition, from an economic development standpoint, Jerrels said speaking with site selectors for business relocation and expansion the lack of land-use management may cause an issue.
Jerrels used the example of placing an asphalt plant next to crop land.
“Run off from one would affect the other,” she said.
In addition, light pollution from a truck stop would likely disturb local residents if its able to locate wherever the owner would like.
Jerrels said while zoning may help with the potential relocation of businesses, she has spoken with site selectors in the past who said the lack of zoning would not necessarily detract from future opportunities.
“It depends on the project,” she said.
If a zoning ordinance were to be approved in the future, a committee would be in charge of not only creating the policies, but a separate committee would oversee any potential changes or requests.
“Some counties have gotten out of hand with their zoning, and we hear, ‘We don’t want to be like them.’ Neither do we. We want to protect what we already have,” Jerrels stressed.
For example, if someone were to request a deviation from the plan, it would go before a Board of Zoning Appeals. The board would then review the request and ample time would be allowed for community concern to be voiced.
But, if a change to the actual ordinance were requested it would go through the same process as getting the original ordinance put in place. No entity would be allowed to make a change without going through the proper channels and advertisement.
Looking forward, Jerrels said as the conversation once again gets started, the discussion needs to include not only the people who are for land-use management, but those who are against it.
“You don’t want everyone -- when you’re putting a plan together -- to have the same opinion because it does not benefit all involved,” she stressed. “We want balance.”
Those who have questions are encouraged to reach out to Jerrels and the Greene County Economic Development Office at 812-659-2109 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A copy of the zoning ordinance drafted in 2012 is available for review, but Jerrels said if the county decides to move forward it will seek assistance from a contracted planning group. The initial draft was borrowed from the plan Daviess County has in place.