The Ellettsville, Indiana, Plan Commission
met in special session on
Roll Call:† Frank Buczolich, Terry Baker, Lisa Creech, Sandra Hash and Jeffrey York, Planning and Zoning Administrator were present.† Ed Bitner and Don Calvert were absent.† One vacancy is still to be filled.
To decide whether Don Kinserís landscaping plan for the Mini-Warehouse
Facility located at
Jeff York summarized the last meetingís
discussion on the landscaping.† He
explained any changes to the original approved landscaping plan had to be
approved by the Plan Commission.† He
passed out copies of the information concerning the trees and the letter from
Mike Spencer on this issue.† He has
contacted a landscaping expert from
Mike Spencerís letter
††††††† I received your e-mail today concerning the information that developed at the Plan Commission meeting last night.† Based upon this information, I do need to revise my previous opinion since it concluded that the approved landscape design provided for screen trees.† I was under the impression that the design did provide for screen trees at 10 to 20 feet on center.† According to your e-mail, the Plan Commission determined that the design plan provided for trees at 40 feet on center.†
In light of this, it appears that the Plan Commission in fact approved a landscape plan that provided for street trees.† The question now is whether or not the Plan Commission can revisit that decision and require the developer to plant something else.† Without doing extensive research on this issue, it is my opinion that the Plan Commission should not revisit its prior decision.
It is clear that the Plan Commission determined that the street trees were the appropriate trees to plant along the street.† One can hardly argue with this.† I discussed this issue with my senior partner, Frank Barnhart, who has been involved in many planning and zoning issues throughout his long career, and he pointed out that evergreen, generally, are never approved as street trees because they prevent drivers from seeing what is close to the roadway. Visibility is crucial in the area next to streets and evergreens hinder such visibility. In this situation the Plan Commission was faced with competing issues: highway safety versus the desire to screen residential developments from commercial developments to improve quality of life. Both are laudable goals, but in this case the Ellettsville Code and the Plan Commission chose highway safety as a priority.†
Considering all of these issues it is my opinion that the existing landscape design is the one specifically provided for by the Town Code, and it should be enforced.† The town code does provide a procedure for a person to appeal a decision of the Plan Commission when a person is unhappy with that decision.† The Plan Commission's decision approving the landscape plan occurred at a public meeting.† The time for appeal of the decision concerning the landscape plan has long passed.† Finality of Plan Commission decisions is important in order to provide decisions upon which people can rely and to avoid endless litigation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.† Michael J. Spencer
Glenn Benninger said the letter from attorney says it is just street trees and he does think that is the correct interpretation.† He believes his home is contiguous because the property lines butt up together.† He doesnít know why they canít have the evergreens because they would be planted several feet off the road and shouldnít block traffic view.† The speed limit is 20 m. p. h. so there isnít high speed traffic.† There is a procedural problem in appealing because it was all approved in one meeting.† He added the adjoining property owners were not notified and saw nothing in the newspaper(s).† The neighbors couldnít appeal the landscaping plan if they wanted to because they didnít know it was being approved.† They just want the place to be more eye appealing and cover it up as much as possible.† He also pointed out that Mr. Kinser is using temporary Coca-Cola signs for advertisement.†
Sandra Hash stated Mr. Kinser has applied for sign permits.
Lisa Creech asked about the word contiguous to clarify the wording in the landscape code.†
Contiguous means any touching property when annexing.† It would be like the street was not there and she felt it meant the same here.† Therefore screen trees would be required on the front of the property as well as the back and sides.
Terry Baker replied this case has nothing to do with annexation.
Lisa Creech expressed dissatisfaction on the way things were going and left the meeting before adjournment.† †
Terry Baker made a motion to adjourn the meeting since they do not have a quorum any longer.† Sandra Hash seconded.† All members present agreed. Meeting was adjourned at approximately 7:20 PM.