News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 7, 2014

No action on wall: Area Plan does not vote to approve settlement between developer, neighborhood

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County Area Plan Commission took no action Wednesday night on a proposed settlement between Cobblestone Crossings, the commission and Viscaya Point, a south-end neighborhood.

A settlement proposal was filed in Vigo County Court Division 1 in April stating the parties had reached a mutual agreement to resolve the dispute, which involves the plan commission seeking the construction of a wall between Viscaya Point and Cobblestone Crossings, a southern Vigo County property development.

Cobblestone, under the name of its ownership, Southern Indiana Investments Co. Three, filed a complaint in Vigo County Court last fall accusing the plan commission of wrongfully withholding approval of a final phase of the Cobblestone development.

According to the April court document, the proposed settlement must be approved by the Area Plan Commission, a 14-member body overseeing land use in the county, in an advertised public meeting. The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 4 in the Vigo County annex.

Regarding the potential settlement, Darren Maher, executive director of the Area Planning Department, said “everything looks great.” The agreement reached was between Viscaya Point and Cobblestone Crossings, he said.

Fred Wilson, plan commission president, said in the meeting that the plan commissioners do not have the authority to order construction of a wall, but they can include it in approved land use plans if the developer agrees to it. Maher said that is what happened in this case.

n The commission also heard a series of questions and concerns raised by southern Vigo County residents regarding a request for a “mining overlay,” a zoning classification used to permit drilling for oil and natural gas.

Landowners Stephen and Peggy Reed are asking for a mining overlay for their property west of Prairie Creek.

Rhonda Yochum, who lives on property nearby, raised a number of concerns, including the impact on neighboring property values, odors, health concerns, ground water safety and the possibility of hydraulic fracturing.

Wilson and John Hanley, the commission’s vice president, said there are several state and federal regulations for oil and gas extraction and the role of the commission is limited to land use regulation. Commissioner Wayne Langman urged representatives of the drilling company involved to meet with Yochum to address her concerns.

“We’re not getting anything out of it except nervousness and headaches,” Yochum said. Even if given the chance, she would not agree to an oil or gas lease because of environmental concerns, she added.

Another person living in the area echoed her feelings saying television reports have indicated global warning has basically doomed the planet and “it all comes from petroleum,” he said.

Despite those concerns, the plan commissioners voted unanimously in a voice vote to send the mining overlay request to the Vigo County Commissioners with a favorable recommendation.

The Area Plan Commission is an advisory body that ordinarily is limited to making recommendations to the Terre Haute City Council and the Vigo County commissioners.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com

 

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