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March 5, 2014

Area Plan Department considering raising fees

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County Area Planning Department is exploring the possibility of raising the fees for its services.

Currently, when property owners seek a rezoning or creation of a subdivision, fees are generally between $25 and $66 dollars. Those fees have not changed in at least a decade and have fallen well below department costs, said Darren Maher, executive director of the planning department, which manages subdivisions and rezonings in the county.

Speaking to the Vigo County Area Plan Commission at its monthly meeting Wednesday night, Maher said each “submittal” of a rezoning or subdivision request costs the department about $90 in office supply and postage costs alone, meaning the department is actually losing money each time it handles a request.

Comparable counties typically charge much more than Vigo County for similar work, Maher said. Some charge a fee of $250 with additional fees for staff consultation time, he said.

“It’s a drastic difference,” Maher said.

Any increase in fees would need the approval of the plan commission, a 14-member body of appointed officials representing government entities and geographic areas in the county. An increase would then require the approval of the Vigo County Commissioners.

An appropriate fee per submitted request would be $120, Maher suggested, noting that would allow the fee to remain the same for several years before requiring another increase.

“We have empirical data showing that’s the right cost,” Maher told the commissioners.

It was not clear how soon the plan commission might be asked to vote on fee increases. The commission meets the first Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Vigo County Annex.

n Also Wednesday, the Plan Commission heard reports of two enforcement actions taken by the planning department. Those included reports of a camper being used as a residence in violation of land use regulations and another complaint concerning a garage being used as a residence and a fence blocking a neighbor’s view from his driveway. The first complaint has been resolved. The second remains pending, planning department officials said.

The staff of the Area Planning Department, which is under the direction of the plan commission, enforces the zoning, subdivision and flood control ordinances in the county. They also produce and maintain maps for the county’s use and also advise the plan commission and other advisory and legislative bodies on land-use matters.

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

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