Tipp Council defeats ordinance for industrial zoning


By Amantha Garpiel

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TIPP CITY — Tipp City City Council heard from numerous citizens regarding their concerns for the potential zoning of the land at 850 N. Hyatt St., Tipp City, as light industrial.

City Council voted on two separate ordinances to amend the zoning code and map and two ordinances to amend the 2023 annual operating budget.

Prior to hearing from concerned citizens, council heard the first and second reading of an ordinance to modify the zoning code and map to change the zoning of 101 W. Broadway St. from legacy district to a multi-family residential (R-3) zoning classification.

After the unanimous approval of the first zoning ordinance, council heard a second reading of an ordinance to amend the zoning code and map for a change in the zoning of 850 N. Hyatt St. before opening up the floor to the public. This ordinance comes with a negative recommendation from the Tipp City Planning Board and requires at least five ‘yes’ votes from City Council to pass the ordinance against a planning board recommendation.

Community members of all ages came to share their concerns for the future of the property and surrounding areas should the parcel be classified as a light industrial zone. Even two high school students stood before the council to share their concerns regarding the potential truck traffic a light industrial zone might bring to the area.

Many of those who wished to speak during the Monday, April 17, meeting raised similar concerns regarding traffic, especially since this land is located between the Hyatt Campus — which houses Nevin Coppock Elementary School, LT Ball Intermediate School and Tippecanoe Middle School — and the Tippecanoe High School.

Tipp City School District Superintendent Mark Stefanik attended the meeting, speaking as the superintendent, on behalf of the school district.

“Several people have mentioned students and the proximity of the site to the schools. I just want to provide the council and the community with the input that I provided to the council in writing,” said Stefanik. “The site that is being discussed … More than 2,200 students attend school at these locations and over 200 employees work at them. The bus garage is also located at the Hyatt campus which means all of our bus drivers start and end their routes there. During morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up, site generated traffic volumes are causing congestion already, backups and delays.

“On 2019, the Tipp City Schools commissioned a traffic impact study as it was working to gain voter support for a K-5 building wrapped around the current LT Ball Intermediate School. The study stated the proposed expansion at LT Ball Intermediate School is expected to significantly increase site generated trips during school peak hours, particularly at the north campus exits. It suggested site modifications and roadway improvements may be necessary to accommodate the increased traffic and flow of vehicles.

“Currently the district is developing a comprehensive K-12 master facilities plan. Though it’s only in the discussion phase, there are some options that would create an additional 400 students and 50 staff members to be relocated to the Hyatt campus. This, of course, is predicated on passing a funding decision from the state. Rezoning property among the same route that is used by young drivers, families, buses will only add to the volume of traffic. A manufacturing facility or distribution plant brings with it large trucks and more traffic, adding to the current vehicle volume and creating potential safety issues to motorists, bus drivers and student walkers. Any decision that impacts traffic flow and creates potential safety issues for students and their families needs to be reconsidered,” Stefanik said.

Other concerns raised by community members, were in regard to the loss of the “small-town feeling” Tipp City is and wants to be known for, environmental concerns of pollution of air, soil and water, loss of farmland and wildlife and student safety.

One citizen, Erin Lambers, spoke of growing up on North Hyatt Street and about how her parents worked to lower the speed limit on the road. She now still lives on the street with her four children, whom she would like to be able to walk to school, however according to Lambers, even the current traffic patterns prohibit her children from safely walking to school and believes adding a light industrial property will only make matters worse.

Jerry McDonald, of Troy, was there as a representative of the owner of the Hyatt property. He spoke in support of rezoning the land as light industrial and shared his and the owner’s thoughts regarding why the land should be rezoned as light industrial.

“The exact reason for the planning board’s decision isn’t really clear,” said McDonald. “I just want to point out, that’s all speculation. We don’t know what this property is going to be used for. And when that time comes, you will make decisions.”

McDonald said the proposed zoning aligns with the city’s comprehensive plan and follows the need of light industrial properties that was determined when the comprehensive plan was developed.

“When the time comes for there to be a use, that’s when the time comes for you guys to decide what type of restrictions there are. Not now. All we’re asking you to is to do what’s been in the plan, do what’s in the code, do what’s part of the annexation plan. Zone this property what’s always been expected this property to be zoned,” said McDonald.

Council members Ryan Liddy and Robert Schwab, President Kathryn Huffman and Mayor Mike McFarland also expressed their opinions on the matter following the public hearing.

“Yes, there is speculation. The attorney that spoke on behalf of the owner brought up a lot of things that I just want to reiterate. The comprehensive plan is meant to be a guide. That’s why consideration of the plan is the first item on the agenda of criteria, that does not mean it is the one thing that you consider, there are many others. What I consider to be one of the biggest, in this instance, is what is going to be a significant adverse impact to the natural, environmental, including air, water, noise, storm, all the alike,” said Liddy. “I’m for growth, but I’m for controlled growth. It’s important that when we rezone things, we rezone them with the citizens in mind. For that reason, I plan to vote no and I would support the rest of the council voting no.”

“One of our conversations, at one of our past meetings, somebody stood up and said, ‘just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.’ There is a lot of speculation and God knows, speaking for myself, I agree with a ton of it, this evening, there’s some of it that I think is overstated, just to be fair,” said Schwab. “While I’m not always in agreement with Mr. Liddy on a few things here and there, we agree on a lot of things, not every time, but I am in agreement with Mr. Liddy. I believe that the comprehensive plan is a guide, I believe that we have taken action to amend it and I believe there are a lot of folks that are effected by this, township people and people that live in the city limits.”

Huffman noted that the comprehensive plan is eight years old and is due to be updated and these concerns and the decision made on this ordinance should be considered.

“I know a lot of the council members here support change in the community, but that includes improving where we’re living,” said Huffman.

“I sponsored this ordinance, but in sponsoring it, it was just to get it on the agenda,” said McFarland. “I am inclined to, at this time unless there is something that comes before us that is not speculation on what is going to go on that land, I am in agreement with my fellow council members in not voting for this.”

The ordinance was defeated by all council members in a 0-7 vote.

In other business:

• Council tabled an ordinance to modify the zoning code to allow for establishments known as flex buildings until the next council meeting.

• Council adopted an ordinance to modify the annual operating budget to set aside $45,000 from the state highway fund to be used for the repaving program, specifically work on state Route 571, or Main Street. Doing this would free up funds in the capital improvement fund for other projects.

• Council OK’d setting aside money for future economic development; future use of these funds would require approval of the council.

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