(Posted June 13, 2014)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
On June 2, the Madison County commissioners approved changes to the county’s comprehensive land use plan, which dictates zoning in the county’s unincorporated areas.
The main change involves the I-70/U.S. Route 40 corridor between routes 29 and 56. Much of the land in the area is zoned agriculture. Now landowners can request rezoning for commercial use. Rezoning will only be granted if approved by the county’s zoning board. Previously, rezoning requests were not an option.
Changes to the land use plan can only be entertained during periodic reviews of the plan. Typically, those reviews take place every five to seven years. The last review was completed in 2012 and backdated to 2010. A task force was convened earlier this year to conduct a new review a little ahead of the five- to seven-year schedule.
The decision to review the plan came last fall when Deercreek Township officials learned that Beck’s Hybrids wanted to build a seed distribution facility on land they own on Route 40 east of the Farm Science Review grounds. Beck’s already uses part of the land for farm soil research, which fits the agriculture zoning. The distribution facility would be a commercial enterprise, which does not fit agriculture zoning.
Because spot changes for specific requests are not allowed by the land use plan, the task force reviewed the entire plan. Township trustees and other officials were invited to provide input. Also taken into consideration was the county commissioners’ plan to equip portions of the I-70/Route 40 corridor with water and sewer services in anticipation of business development.
Regarding the corridor, the task force decided to leave the zoning designations as they already stood, which for the most part are agriculture. But now, companies like Beck’s have the ability to ask for a zoning change in that area. The requests can be made at any time.
“In the spirit of the land use plan, we’re keeping growth close to specific areas, like municipalities, the airport and the I-70 interchange,” said Commissioner Mark Forrest.