To the Editor:
Once again April 1st (today) kicks off National Autism Awareness Month. The number of our children that are affected by autism continue to grow. There are so many organizations now that are working on trying t o find out why and learning more a bout autistic symptoms and treatments. I urge you to support these organizations.
Learning about the disorder is the only way we will ever have a chance to possibly prevent it. A special thank you to all of our teachers and other people in the community that work with our children with autism; you truly do make a great difference in our families’ lives. I continue to try to add books to our local library on all aspects of autism so check back often. Friday, April 2nd, is “Light It Up Blue” day so wear blue to support autism research.
Prevent child abuse
We would like to take the opportunity to announce to the community that April is “Prevent Child Abuse” awareness month. Our council has planned an event on Saturday, April 17th, at 10:30 a.m.
The gathering will take place at the Switzerland County Courthouse in memory of children’s lives lost due to abuse and neglect. We also want to celebrate the births of children in Indiana and be a voice for them stating to “Cherish our Children.” We will be placing pinwheels in the lawn of the Courthouse and refreshments will be available. You are invited to join us.
Thanks for everything you do to make Indiana a safe and nurturing place for our children and families.
For more information please contact Jessica Archer at 427-3232 or Barbaraa Fletcher at 427-3152.
Prevent Child Abuse Council
To the Editor:
Recently I have been getting an education in Switzerland County government and how it works, in an effort to follow the progress of the zoning and codes changes. How frustrating to find that with every painfully acquired answer come more questions.
On Monday, I contacted the courthouse to find out when the next commissioners’ meeting is scheduled. I learned that there are two sets of commissioners, one for Planning and Zoning, and the other, more a general governing body, I believe.
My source told me that while the commissioners don’t make decisions for the Planning Board, that at the next meeting on Monday, April 5th, (5 p.m., at the courthouse, downstairs in the commissioners’ room), they would finish killing (my word for it) the new code changes. I was told that the Switzerland County Comprehensive Plan is already gone.
So, if this is true, why didn’t the Planning Board commissioners tell us that outright at the March 17th meeting? Don’t they know the current status of the proposed codes? Why did they argue about the procedure to repeal the codes? And why, after telling the public who packed the courtroom that they were obligated to serve public notice as the first step to repeal, was nothing in last week’s public notice section? Why does the Switzerland County Planning and Zoning website not have these important updates on that site? Why create the hostility and outrage at that meeting on a dead issue?
And more importantly, why do our commissioners not clearly communicate with the people who put their faith and votes in them? This zoning and codes issue is a huge life changing matter for our community, with the potential for huge financial losses for property owners, yet it has only recently gradually come to the public’s attention. We residents deserve far better that the lack of clear, straightforward communication, and decisions that seem to be made before we are made aware of the issues.
My intention is to continue the learning process, attend as many local commissioners meetings as possible, and keep on asking questions until I receive complete answers. I will be packing a recording device so that I can go over the discussions at those meetings to be clear about what is exactly being said. And I will not be afraid to share what I learn.
My husband asked me to submit his letter to the editor this week. The ground he covers in it may now be obsolete. But until we get the final word about the new code and zoning proposals, it may be best to keep a light shining on this cockroach of a plan, and continue to raise public awareness of the direction in which our county was heading.
The commissioners, Planning Board and otherwise, need to do right by our residents and post clear and complete answers in layman’s language that everyone can understand, not only in the newspaper public notice section, but also in public places. We are all deeply concerned about the proposed code changes and need to have our worries put to rest.
Until I receive honest assurances beyond any and all doubt, I’ll see you boys at all the meetings!
Switzerland County Resident
To the Editor:
Switzerland County landowners: Do you live in the “Open Space” zone? Do you know what that means to you and the property rights you thought you had?
The people behind the Switzerland County Comprehensive Plan have decided that to “preserve the bucolic ambiance” (keep it country) that we should be forced to live in seven “urban zones”. To do this, they have zoned 26.1 percent of our county’s total land, not including riparian areas “Open Space”. See the map on the front page of the Comprehensive Plan. This “environmentally sensitive” land is to be kept as wildlife habitat, although on page 113, a map shows 8871 acres of it is also marked “Prime Golf Course Location” plus even more land as “Prime Winery Location”.
Our entire county is being saddled with harsh codes and restrictions, none worse than the Open Space. Page 53 of the Plan says, “Land for conservation purposes and reserved for wildlife habitat includes former Forest Reserve. No development except for trails and related facilities: R3 conditionally permitted outside the Urban Growth Boundaries.
Since “R3” has no definition in the Plan, “RR” (Restricted Residential) is permitted. So if you want to build on that land you own in Open Space, you must have a minimum of 250 feet road frontage, 2.0 acre lot minimum, and certified septic approved. No subdivisions would be permitted. Does that include no giving your kids a few acres of your farm so they and your grandkids can make a home near you? Maybe that doesn’t sound too bad, except that you must have a 75 foot “landscape buffer” for the front yard to hide your house from the road “to simulate a rural character”. After all, no one driving down your road should have his view of the scenery on your land ruined by having to see your house on it. Interestingly, the map on page 101 also shows “Possible Landfill Locations” on Open Space land. I guess the Commissioners feel landfills have much more country curb appeal than your home does.
Are you zoned “AR” (Agriculture Restricted)? Well, here is text straight from page 28 of the Comprehensive Plan: The Agrarian Restricted zone is a buffer of varying linear distances from certain uses and to protect human settlements from livestock agriculture in its industrial applications. From the identified six UGB’s (Urban Growth Boundaries) there is a radius of a mile for the AR District; from the fourteen unincorporated hamlets and from arterial and major collectors roads as identified on MAP 1A the distance is half of a mile. A special exception is a use subject to certain use conditions and development restrictions. In the case of mining and AR excluded uses [e.g., CAFO’s, CFO’s] (Controlled Animal Feeding Operations, Controlled Feeding Operations) there would be a determination of the significant economic value of such operations and their non-interference with the more sensitive permitted uses in the AP district, such as winery spas and related conferencing and hospitality facilities. These conditions may allow for the placement of mining and AR excluded uses at a certain distance from these sensitive uses, and for their proper visual and noise buffering and traffic routing. Of course, no one moving to or visiting a rural agricultural county like Switzerland should have to see or smell farms and the animals on them, especially those at winery spas.
And whatever you are zoned, just try to sell your place, with the interference of a Code Officer, who will inspect your property at the time of the sale to make sure it meets his standards perfectly, even though your buyer and you have already come to an agreement. Having even a weed on your premises can cause you to be cited, and delay or prevent the sale. That should make real estate sales here even tougher in an already tough market.
As for the rest of the zones, the Planning Commission has special codes for you, too. No one living in Switzerland County avoids the bite of the new codes and restrictions. Try having a yard sale or selling anything from vegetables to vehicles, or advertising a service without a prerequired permit. And yes, there is a lot more, and a lot worse. If you have access to a computer, go to the website listed below. The public library also has computers. If you are not up on the technology, find a friend or relative who is, and have him help you.
The Comprehensive Plan was slipped to us very quietly. If we don’t raise our voices and make our disagreement with it thoroughly known and our demand that the Comprehensive Plan and the new codes and restrictions be repealed (NOT “cleaned up”) crystal clear to the planning commission, they will continue to stall us off until we are permanently saddled with it.
Wildlife Habitat/Landfill/Golf Course Site Owner
To the Editor:
The officers of this county do not serve this community for salary, pension, popularity, or praise. They sacrifice spending quality time with their families, because they are on call 24 hours each day. Their salaries do not compensate them for all the hours they spend protecting and patrolling this county.
Every day their lives are in danger. They respond to calls of violence, drugs, alcohol, battery, traffic violations, domestic disputes, and many times unknown dangers. There have been incidents of chasing after people across fields, streams and streets in the dark and daylight. They deal frequently with people that are drunk or high on drugs that can’t be reasoned with, and abuse them verbally or physically. Often the offenders are also a threat to their families, friends, innocent bystanders, themselves and the officers; by their furious and out-of-control behaviors. When they approach a vehicle or home they do not know what to expect and must be very cautious, but yet carry out the duties of their investigation.
As a acitizen of this community, I would like to thank them for all they do for protecting, sacrificing and serving my community and family. In the future I encourage you to thank a Switzerland County Police Officer by a kind word, smile or handshake to acknowledge them for all they do.
In closing I pray for God’s protection over them each day:
Deputy Sheriff’s Prayer
When I start my tour of duty God,
Wherever crime may be,
As I drive the darkened streets alone,
Let me be close to thee.
Please give me understanding with both the young and old.
Let me listen with attention until their story’s told.
Let me never make a judgment in a rash or callous way.
But let me hold my patience,
Let every man have his say.
Lord if some dark and dreary night,
I must give my life,
Lord with your everlastoing love, protect my family and wife.
In Sincerre Appreciation,
Bert and Debbie Allen