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I shared some of my rants regarding the changes to the zoning boundary with Jeff Kenney of the Culver Citizen and he suggested that I send him a letter to the editor on the subject. I am a little freer with my writing here in the blog since I know my audience is different, so I wrote a separate Letter to the Editor and cleaned up my prose a bit. Hopefully it will encourage people to get involved and do some of the research themselves. My earlier piece included all of the links and drawings, so I’ve made it easy for anyone to follow my research. What do you think?
PS – If anyone can tell me why I lose my paragraph breaks on text I cut & paste into a post, let me know! Drives me nuts! It looks right in the editor and then loses the spaces between paragraphs when it posts… I guess I’ll go old-school and add indents…
I went home pretty frustrated last night. I had shared my previous post on the Two Mile Zoning Boundary with the Town Council and Plan Commission last week. I am also on the Steering Committee for the Plymouth Comprehensive Plan review and attended that meeting Monday evening. (6:00 until 9:45! Sheesh!) The topic of the Two Mile Zoning Boundary came up and there was a lively discussion. Yesterday I sent the following email to the Town Council and Plan Commission ahead of the Plan Commission meeting last night:
All,I attended last night’s Plymouth Comprehensive Plan review on behalf of MCEDC. One of the items that Jackie Turner with Ratio Architects had in the draft plan was ceding some extra territorial control back to the County. I questioned why this would ever be considered as the extended territorial control was there to allow the municipality to control its destiny. She replied that if Plymouth was looking at the plan as a 10 year document, then they might want to divest themselves of the burden of supervising areas that weren’t planned for annexation in the next 10 years. I asked why a municipality would EVER want to cede control to the county and shouldn’t our vision be for 50 years, not just 10? I then asked about problems with residential development surrounding industrial areas making expansion difficult, the problem with subdivisions just outside the territorial boundary which used services, but did not pay for them (fire, police, parks, etc.) and and the difficulties of leapfrogging areas that had been developed that resisted annexation to serve new development or other older developments that needed services. This started a rather spirited response from Plymouth departmental staff naming specific instances where this is already a problem.Ms. Turner agreed with my points for the most part, saying she was just giving that as an option to be considered as part of the comprehensive planning process. She said there still may be areas of no growth where Plymouth might want to consider this, but all the points I made need to be considered before making that decision.I’m paraphrasing the discussion above, but I double checked it with Brent Martin who was also in attendance. Ralph Booker was there also. One of the big points I think Culver should take from this is that determining the extended territorial boundary is a discussion that should be had as part of the Comprehensive Planning process. There is no reason that we can’t put this off until our planning process is complete.Kevin
The Marshall County Plan Director, Ralph Booker, and Marshall County Building Inspector, Chuck DeWitt, have been working on a system where all of the building permits for the County can be completed through the Marshall County website using the GIS (Graphic Information System). It has been approved by the Culver Plan Commission and was approved by the Culver Town Council at their meeting on February 12th. An issue arose where throughout the County there are multiple properties that are split between a County Zoning District and the various Municipalities’ Zoning Districts. As usual, Culver is the worst case scenario with more split properties than any other Marshall County community. This is a problem since the building permit program would like to address zoning issues in building permit applications via parcel ownership. (You can see a map showing Marshall County and the zoning boundaries of all the communities here.)
By Indiana State Statute IC 36-7-4-205, municipalities are allowed to take in contiguous unincorporated areas outside of their annexed municipal limits as extended Territorial Authority via their Comprehensive Plan. This is often referred to as the “two mile zoning boundary” as that is the maximum allowed by statute. Even though it is often referenced as the Two Mile Zoning Boundary in discussions at the Culver Plan Commission, and it is labeled that way on the map on the wall, Culver has never had the entire allowed area. In the case of municipalities such as Culver which are adjacent to lakes, the municipality is allowed to take in the lake and the property surrounding it. (See comments on the clause regarding lakes excerpted to the right.)
My understanding is the premise of this statute dates back to the growth spurt Indiana and the rest of the nation experienced after World War II. Often that growth occurred in the fringe areas around municipalities in a chaotic manner. In most cases there was no county zoning at the time, so Indiana and other states granted their municipalities the extended territorial authority to apply zoning standards to the fringe areas. This extended authority varied by state and I found examples of it extending from 1 to 4 miles outside municipal boundaries. In the case of Indiana, most counties have zoning ordinances now, but the extended boundary is still used by communities to control the area of imminent growth at their perimeter. Imminent growth around Culver is probably something that I’ll hear arguments about. In this case “imminent” needs to be judged by the life of our community, not by our short personal lifetimes. Imminent for Culver should be looked at through the lens of the future, looking forward 2o or even 50 years.
At the time the current zoning boundary was created, Culver was actually pretty progressive and was one of the first communities in Marshall County to establish a Plan Commission and a Zoning District. According to Pete Trone, my planning and zoning historical reference, Culver took partial advantage of the territorial authority allowed and included Lake Maxinkuckee in its zoning district. The Plan Commission did not take in the full two miles at the time because they didn’t want to clash with the farm community. Since there was no County zoning at that time, there were no restrictions placed on the farmers outside the municipal limits. In most areas the lines were drawn along section lines or from intersections without regard for parcel lines. Thus the “problem” with the split parcels. This issue exists mainly on the west and north. Parcels were generally used to draw the line around the lake, so the east and south boundaries are clearer. You can see a detailed map of Culver’s zoning boundaries here.
In meetings with the Culver Plan Commission, it has been presented that the GIS system at the County is based on the parcel lines and since the zoning boundary lines around Culver do not follow parcel lines, the transitions between zoning boundaries are too difficult to determine. Admittedly, I am no expert in the nuts & bolts of the County GIS system. I am confused though how this can be such a difficult issue when the system currently shows soils maps, flood zones, etc. which bisect parcels and cross parcel lines with curvilinear representation. The current plan is being promoted as “fair” because it takes the majority of the split parcels and puts them completely under Culver jurisdiction if more than 50% is currently under Culver jurisdiction. If less than 50% is currently in Culver jurisdiction the entire parcel will be placed under Marshall County jurisdiction. While this is ostensibly “fair”, fairness is not the reason for the two mile boundary. The two mile zoning boundary is provided for by the State so that a municipality can control its destiny. Theoretically municipalities will continue to grow. Culver should plan to grow! In economic terms, communities are either growing or dying. There is no Status Quo!
Culver currently does not have the full two miles allowed in any direction. So why are we giving up control of any of our current area? Wouldn’t a more prudent solution to the GIS “problem” be to give all of the split parcels over to Culver’s control? While I’m not opposed to following parcel lines for convenience, I don’t think that should mean that we lose any parcel that crosses the current line. With a two mile extended authority our boundary would look more like the drawing to the right. If we take in every parcel that is split by the current boundary, we would still be well within the two mile limit. If that’s not acceptable, then I think the current boundary line should remain as is. As per my reference to the soils and flood plain layers, I think the GIS is versatile enough to illustrate those things. If there’s a discrepancy; bring it to the Plan Commission for a determination.
* Thanks to Pete Trone and Bobbie Ruhnow – both provided historical reference and valuable input to my research.
For those of you that followed my posts on the Firemen’s Memorial here and here, I hope you liked the design I suggested. (See the picture to the right.) Unfortunately, I have to report that the firemen have apparently chosen to go a different direction. At least I assume that’s what’s happening at the northeast corner of Lake Shore Drive and Slate Street… I found out about this the same way you did, i.e. I didn’t know they were going a different route until I saw it under construction.
I wish them the best as always, but it’s unfortunate they have chosen to build a less than permanent structure skinned with faux cut stone rather than following the guidance of the Culver Community Charrette as I suggested. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and time will tell as to whether this becomes the cherished landmark I intended with my design.
A recent post on the SRA Blog talked about the new HepCat Loft Development in Warsaw, Indiana. It’s an interesting concept and one I might consider including in our Sand Hill Farm Development when it moves forward. There is not much in the way of what I would call “loft space” developed as such in Culver. Most of the spaces above the downtown buildings have been developed as more traditional apartments such as what Susie Mahler has created above Cafe Max. (Listing with pictures here.) Jan Nanini’s building at 110 North Main Street took the old Masonic Lodge on the second floor and subdivided it into apartments as well. (You’ll need to go to Jeff Kenney for better history of that building. He tells us it’s haunted here.) Others, such as the space above Fisher & Co. have been left undeveloped and have been relegated to storage.
When I think of “Loft Space” I think of open concept and high ceilings, generally having exposed trusses and often having spiral duct HVAC systems. (I love Google Image search, but it’s frustrating when I look through so many pictures and don’t find exactly what I want. This time I came pretty darn close!) It is very much the look Larry Surrisi went for in the original design of The Edgwater Grille (now The Lakehouse Grille) in Culver. There are more of these spaces in Plymouth. We worked on a loft space at the site of the old Moose Lodge and George Schricker has developed some loft apartments above the former Vine Restaurant as well.
This is very much what RW Kidd Construction has gone for in their concept design; the difference being that instead of rehabbing existing abandoned second floors of buildings, they have used “Loft Space” as a style for their new construction. It is somewhat of a minimalist style that should lend itself to some cost savings. It looks like RW Kidd had outfitted them at a fairly high level though to go along with the HepCat theme, which has reintroduced costs.
I like the flat roof patios. I’m picturing them along the east property line of the Sand Hill Farm Development where they would look out over the baseball diamonds. It could be an interesting concept there. I also like the multifamily format. I think some limited mix of this type of building could fit well in my mixed use scheme. As mentioned above, it would be something different for Culver. I also wonder if it could be modified to work with a more traditional loft theme where there could be some home-based retail on the first floor, possibly moving the garage entrance to the back off of an alley. There’s potential here!
I’m in Warsaw enough that I will need to swing by and see them in person. There are quite a few pictures at the HepCat Loft Development site listed above, so check them out if you’re interested. Let me know what you think. Is this something that could work in Culver?