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Rural Monroe County Residents May See Major Rezoning Shifts

Some Monroe County residents raised questions June 17 about proposed rules that would affect the most rural parts of the county.

The rules would apply to areas more than two miles from Bloomington. They would not affect smaller communities like Ellettsville or Stinesville.

The County Plan Commission is seeking to simplify its rural zoning rules by establishing just two zones instead of the current 20. But resident Steven Cordell said that approach might have been counterproductive.

“You’re taking something that was too complicated and making it overly simplified,” Cordell says. “I think that might be a big over-correction.”

Cordell’s complaints with the proposed rules focused largely on restrictions that would keep residents from subdividing their land into lots of relatively small parcels. Commission members have said the County can’t support the infrastructure required by those kinds of typically residential developments.

Other residents, like Steve Smith, asked why the rules restrict rural businesses from developing.

“The existing businesses have been there a long time with the zoning code changing around them,” Smith says. “This would blanket change everything, and when they become pre-existing, non-conforming, that’s like saying ‘we don’t want you.’”

Commission members said they are waiting to develop some rules for businesses. Commission member Julie Thomas said consultant is still working on rules governing the Bloomington Urbanizing Area, which is the two miles of County land surrounding the city. Thomas said those regulations would affect the rural zoning rules.

 

New Bank Planned For South Liberty Drive

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On January 25 the Monroe County Commission heard a request to rezone a property on South Liberty Drive, to allow a new Owen County State Bank to be built there. The commission recommended approval of the project, but some members of that group voiced concerns about its effects on traffic. Commissioner Julie Thomas, who is also on the Plan Commission, explained why she opposes the project.

“The reason I voted no is because I believe Liberty Drive is way overdeveloped for the size of the street,” Thomas said, “I know a lot of people have been caught on Liberty Drive trying to get out or do something. It’s a street I avoid because of this. I don’t think we’re doing a service for people who live in that area by adding more congestions because of a new bank in the area.”

Thomas again voted against the project, but she was outvoted by the other two commissioners–Iris Kiesling and Patrick Stoffers. Neither Kiesling or Stoffers commented on the project or explained their votes.

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