Revisiting the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction of Culver (Part 1)

I’ve written about the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction and the Extraterritorial Boundary here before. You can search the site and come up with a handful of blog posts from the past on this. As a member of the Culver Comprehensive Plan Committee, I lobbied for language that Culver should consider expanding their extraterritorial planning boundary to the 2 mile limit allowed by State Statute. (The language from the draft plan is to the right.) To me, this is a totally reasonable premise for several reasons: 1) Culver already has extraterritorial jurisdiction, just not out the allowable 2 miles. Obviously, it’s something the town has seen value in and has maintained. 2) Culver has annexed land, expanding the boundary of the town without any additional expansion of extraterritorial jurisdiction in those directions. 3) Marshall County is currently considering a county-wide sewer system. Sewer access is one of the main incentives for annexation. 4) The Comprehensive Plan, is just that… a plan. The name of this one is Destination 2040. Is it truly unreasonable to consider planning for the area surrounding Culver sometime over the next 16 years!?

2013 Zoning Boundary (Pink)

The illustration to the right if from an old blog post. It shows the zoning boundary in 2013. The circle around the outside of that shows the approximate location of the 2 mile area Culver could have requested at that time. Since that time, the planning area was reduced and the annexed area was increased. The reason for the reduction in the planning area was the inflexibility of the County’s GIS system and the way Building Permits were issued. This resulted in a negotiation between Marshall County and Culver to change the boundary to follow parcel lines. For the most part, parcels with split zoning per this map were moved completely into Marshall County jurisdiction or Culver jurisdiction following whichever controlled the greater percentage at that time. While I understood the problem, I lobbied that spit parcels should have gone 100% to Culver as they were all within the 2 mile radius. I was a bit frustrated that the split parcel owners weren’t even asked if they might want to be part of Culver’s Planning Jurisdiction.

2024 Zoning Boundary (Pink)

The illustration to the right shows the new zoning boundary as of 2024. This also shows the new annexation lines accounting for The Dunes, the Executive Storage facilities and Culver Meadows. The majority of the area outside of Culver proper is zoned S-1 (More on that later), with a L-1 districts around the lakes and the occasional C-2 and PUD zonings. There would be very little difference in the 2 mile potential area, since the annexations that have occurred are to the west and south where Culver would be limited by the county line. (I think… There maybe options to cross county lines with the blessing of the adjacent county, but that so far outside the bounds of feasibility at this point, that it’s not worth researching.) What isn’t clear in this map, is that part of what was done during the parcel swap was to add an A-1 Agriculture District to Culver’s Zoning Ordinance. The County’s A-1 District and Culver’s A-1 District are nearly identical, by design. The GIS doesn’t even recognize a difference and shows them with the same designation and color.

At some time during the 30 day review period for the Destination 2040 Comprehensive Plan draft, some people read into it, not only the intent to actively pursue planning and zoning expansion, but by some interpretations to pursue annexation of this area. On top of that, in some cases it was construed as an additional 2 miles on top of the current extraterritorial jurisdiction, spreading the planning area even further. The rumors spread and grew. The Culver Town Council held a meeting to discuss this on April 9th. I tried to attend the meeting, but the council chambers were woefully too small for the group that wanted to be heard, so not wanting to stand in the corridor or outside the door, I left. After an extensive discussion with the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee last week, the original paragraph from the draft (above) was left intact, but the following was added at the end to further clarify the current intent: “At present, The Town of Culver does not have plans to extend its zoning limits. Any future consideration of extending the town’s zoning authority will be done through a partnership between the Town, Union Township, and Marshall County.”

The irony of how this played out is amusing to me. In a nut shell, those outside the town limits do not want to be in the planning area, because they do not have a vote for the elected officials that would make the decisions, and therefore, no influence on what is decided. Yet they appealed to those same elected officials, that they didn’t vote for, and influenced their decision at the expense of those elected officials’ actual constituents. Kinda makes my head spin… Ha!

As always, kudos to those who step up to take the slings and arrows. It sounds like that meeting was rough. I appreciate that they took a step back to consider the language rather than running with a snap decision based on the ire at the meeting. There are also plans to create an advisory committee and have some discussions with landowners in the extraterritorial planning jurisdiction, both the area in it now and the potential expansion area.

The important thing to remember here, that seems to have been lost in the heat of the moment, is that this is a plan… A plan with a 16 year horizon… The things in here are designed to give direction, but it is not set in stone. In regards to expanding the planning jurisdiction, it says, “Opportunities to expand the current extraterritorial planning boundary to its full allowable two mile radius should be explored whenever they arise, and particularly, whenever access to the town infrastructure and resources in the unincorporated areas, contiguous to Culver’s town limits is considered.” Nothing about that says to do it tomorrow. It just means be aware and cognizant of opportunities.

This has gotten long, so I’m ending it here. I will follow up with Part 2 to discuss what inclusion in Culver’s planning jurisdiction could mean to those not in it now. (Spoiler Alert, there are some positives.)

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