Letter to the Editor

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…

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Letter to the Editor – Culver Citizen

     I left the February Plan Commission meeting pretty frustrated. The Plan Commission has been considering a change to the Extended Territorial Authority perimeter, generally referred to as the “Two Mile Zoning Boundary”. This was instigated by a change computerizing the building permit process and the limitations of that software. Parcels under one ownership, but with split zoning jurisdiction were a problem.
     In anticipation of changes, the Plan Commission had the foresight to create a new AG zoning designation that virtually mirrors that which the County has. This allows the areas which are predominantly farms to continue with no additional restrictions. In some areas, such as subdivision of land, Culver is less restrictive than the County. Coming under Culver’s jurisdiction has no tax consequences. The only change would be that they would come before Culver’s Plan Commission and BZA for improvement permits and variances.
     There was a public hearing on this issue at the January Plan Commission meeting. At the February meeting, Ralph Booker, Marshall County Plan Director, made a short presentation showing that the division of parcels was “fair” and by acreage favored Culver. A vote was called, passing the change with no public input or commission discussion.
     In the weeks leading up to this meeting I researched the background of the Extended Territorial Authority, both as it is set forth in Indiana Statute and as it applies to Culver. I discussed the issue with the planning consultant hired by Plymouth for their Comprehensive Plan and the planning consultant we are considering hiring for Culver’s Comprehensive Plan. I also spoke with past plan commission members who have knowledge of how the boundary was originally set. I shared what I learned along with my conclusions with the Plan Commission via email.
     Why am I frustrated? This issue merited more discussion. I have pushed hard for Culver to have an updated Comprehensive Plan. The extended territorial authority granted by the state is by statute a function of the Comprehensive Plan. It is not a matter of “fairness”. It should not be determined by software limitations. It is a matter of control over Culver’s destiny. Do I foresee or desire some booming development around Culver next year? Probably not. But are we sure there won’t be something in the next 20 years? 50 years? We need to consider this in the life of Culver, not the short lifetimes of current residents. According to the Town of Culver website there has been a named settlement at this location since 1843 – 170 years and four name changes ago. We are about to embark on the process of creating a new Comprehensive Plan. Considering that our community’s life is measured in centuries, this change could have waited until our Comprehensive Plan is complete. The planning consultants I spoke to gave varying opinions of how a municipality should determine this boundary, but they both agreed that it should be part of their comprehensive planning process. Culver needs a vision for its future. There is no way we can foresee that future clearly, but if we plan for Culver to be here another 100 years or more, we should lay whatever groundwork we can to make that future bright.
     I have no doubt that the Plan Commission members have the best intentions for Culver and I appreciate their volunteering for what is often a thankless job. Unfortunately, I strongly disagree with their decision in this case. My personal opinion is that we should have absorbed all of the split parcels. They are well within the two miles we are allowed. We have annexed additional land in the past 10 years without ever petitioning to extend our territorial authority. I believe we should do so. The Plan Commission vote was to pass a recommendation to accept these changes to the Town Council. The Town Council will make the final determination. I would advocate that they table the decision pending completion of the Comprehensive Plan.
     If you want to see my research on this, check out the February 14th and 20th entries in our blog at www.easterdayconstruction.com/blog I have included drawings and reference links there so you can be informed as well.

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