Concrete plant approved by County Commissioners

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The Switzerland County Commissioners have tentatively approved a petition to rezone an area of the county along the River Road so that a concrete plant can be built on the land.

The plant will be built on a piece of land purchased from Billy Leap that is located on State Road 156 near Tapps Ridge Road.

The discussion concerning the rezoning has been a hot topic for the commissioners, as Tuesday’s meeting drew an audience of approximately 125 residents on both sides of the issue.

Resident Martha Bladen, representing several property owners, read a prepared statement against the concrete plant; and resident Rose Harbert told the commissioners that she had spoken to residents living near the concrete plant over in Warsaw, Kentucky, and there had not been any problems.

After hearing from both sides, commissioner Craig Bond made a motion to allow the rezoning – with specific provisions.

Commissioner Bond moved to allow the rezoning of the property with the caveats that the property must clear all assessments done by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management; the Indiana Department of Transportation; the Indiana Department of Natural Resources; and other studies, such as archeological assessments, that must be done as part of the process.

If one study or one agency disapproves, then the zoning change doesn’t go through and the land reverts to its current designation.

Although all three commissioners seemed in favor of allowing the concrete plant – to be owned and operated by Southeastern Ready Mix, LLC., of North Vernon – to come to the county, just where it should be caused most of the controversy.

“I still have the same feelings that I had when the concrete plant first came to us,” Commissioner Brian Morton said. “This county spent a lot of money on an industrial park, and that’s where it needs to go. I still think that.”

“My feeling on it is that I think it’s the perfect place for the plant,” Commissioner Craig Bond said of the Highway 156 site.

With Craig Bond’s motion, Brian Morton chose not to second it, so current Commission president K.C. Banta did second the motion, and it passed 2-1, with the stipulations that Commissioner Bond set forth in the motion.

Craig Bond told the audience that he was also concerned with the traffic patterns that will occur on River Road once the concrete plant begins operation, but that he has visited with officials from INDOT “extensively”, and those officials have assured the commissioner that the roadway will be safe.

“They have said that there will be a de-acceleration lane for the westbound traffic; and there will be a passing ‘blister’ for eastbound traffic,” Craig Bond said. “It will be safer than it is today.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner Morton brought some applause from the audience when he spoke about locating the concrete plant at the industrial park site.

“It just kills me that we spent all this money on that industrial park,” Brian Morton said. “Why didn’t we put it there? If we do get industry in the future, like we hope to, what’s one of the first things they’re going to need? Concrete.”

Brian Morton said that he had no problem with the concrete plant locating here, but it was a matter of location.

Commissioner K.C. Banta said that it was important that the language concerning all of the proper permitting be included in the motion. He said that he shares the concerns of the residents, but feels that once all of the permitting is completed, the plant will be a positive thing for the county.

“I asked that the company leave the row of trees out in front along the highway,” K.C. Banta said. “I think that will help shield the plant from the roadway and travelers. In the summer, you probably won’t see it.”