ANDERSON — A request to build a two-story multi-use building for family use and the Young Life organization at Hamilton Southeastern High School has been denied by the Madison County Board of Zoning Appeals.
The board voted Tuesday to deny the request for a special use when attorney Jeff Graham said the BZA didn’t have the authority to approve a special use in an area zoned for Conservation Residential use.
Jim and Michelle Devoe want to construct an 11,900-square-foot building in the 9700 block of west County Road 1025 South.
Tim Westerfield, planner with the Madison County Planning Commission, said the staff recommended the special use rather than rezone the property, which is located off Indiana 238.
Westerfield said the Devoes would have to go before the Plan Commission for other usages on the building. He said it would have had to be zoned for commercial use.
Graham said the BZA is only allowed to grant a special use that is authorized under the county’s zoning ordinance.
“The board doesn’t have the authority to grant a special use,” he said. “If an adjoining property owner filed a remonstrance, the board would lose.”
Graham recommended that a variance be sought for a developmental use to construct the building.
The BZA denied the special use request, but will consider a variance application at the Dec. 19 meeting. It also waived the additional fee.
Jim Devoe said the couple purchased the property to have a private place for family outings on the 28-acre site that is adjacent to Lick Creek.
“We want to bring the Young Life kids to the property,” he said.
Currently the Young Life group meets at his mother’s home in Fortville with between 35 and 60 high school students attending the meetings.
Graham questioned whether the meeting of the Young Life group would be in compliance with the conservation residential zoning.
“The first use is for us as a family,” Michelle Devore said. “We want to get back to nature.”
She said Young Life meets once a week for Bible study and that the kids like the outdoor setting.
Greg Valentine, Green Township trustee, said the property is one of the most beautiful areas in the township. He did raise concerns about flooding and the need for construction of a septic system on the property.
Westerfield said drainage and septic permits have already been approved for the property.
In other business, the BZA approved a variance for Charles and Barbara Claus to construct a barn for miniature horses on six acres on County Road 1000 South.
Charles Claus said they plan to construct their primary residence on the property within the next two years.
BZA members raised some concerns about flooding on the property flowing across the road.
The barn and house will be constructed on the back of the property and the drainage issues should be resolved, a surveyor for Claus said.
BZA member Bill Hobbs said the board has approved several of these requests in recent years, but the residential dwelling was never constructed.
Hobbs made a motion to deny the request, but it failed for the lack of a second.
The variance received provisional approval from the board with the condition that Claus returns to the BZA in November 2015 to show that a house has been constructed or begun and when it would be completed.
Follow Ken de la Bastide @KendelaBastide on Twitter, or call 640-4863.