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Mitchell City Council Looks At Updating Zoning

Last updated on Tuesday, March 6, 2012

(MITCHELL) - The Mitchell City Council agreed to update the comprehensive zoning plan.

The last plan was adopted in 1958.

City Attorney Byron Steele told the council that the zoning codes need to make sense and be understandable, so everyone knows what they are getting into.

"You will need to hold public meetings and receive public input," Steele added. "The city has attempted this before and it didn't go well. Zoning is one of the more painful things the board will do. Anytime you do something like this is will make people angry. No one likes to be told what they can and cannot do with their property."

Updates to the zoning began under the administration of former Mayor Butch Chastain, after the city received a grant from Ball State. But that plan was too complicated and many couldn't understand it without the assistance of an attorney, so the plan was never adopted by the city.

Steele stressed that if the council was to look at zoning they needed to make sure they were ready to receive about 25 to 30 phone calls a night and make the plan understandable for citizens.Steele says the first step would be to develop a zoning board.

The last zoning board was under former Mayor Jerry Hancock. Steele told the board he would look into the regulations and get back with the council so a board of zoning can be developed.

Mitchell resident Ron Pridemore suggested the council hold a public referendum and let the citizens of Mitchell decide if they want city zoning.

However, Council woman Vicki Schlegel told the board, zoning exists in some areas of the city and that still needs to be regulated.

"This is a serious issue and needs to be examined," says Mayor Gary Pruitt.

In other business:

* The council appointed Council woman Nancy Miller to the Southern Indiana Development Corporation Board.

* The council approved roadblocks for Disabled Veteran's Make a Wish for March 10th; Walmart's team for Relay for Life on May 19th and for the city's fireworks on May 5th and June 30th.

* The council adopted an ordinance for the stop sign in the city cemetery that exits onto 14th Street. The stop sign replaced a yield sign. Those violating the stop sign will be fined $25.

* Council woman Nancy Miller request the city look into the ordinance governing mobile homes. She was concerned about size issues and if the owners of the mobile home parks were keeping records of who owned the trailers and who was living there. She also asked about routine inspections to make sure the homes were safe. Attorney Byron Steele said he would look into the ordinance.

* Council woman Vicki Schlegel said the Friends of the Playground would be inspecting the playground equipment at Mitchell Memorial Park to make sure it was safe and see what repairs would be needed.

The group plans to hold a meeting and seek other volunteers to work on the project.

The playground was build in October of 2003.

"The Friends of the Playground was developed to help maintain the playground and take the burden off the city," Schlegel said.

* Schlegel asked the board to address complaints she received about citizens putting their trash out too early and allowing animals to drag the garbage all over the neighborhood. There were also complaints that the trash was not being put in trash bags. Mayor Pruett said he would address the issue with the street department.

* Council man Matt England wants the city to address issues with unsafe housing. He said he has received complaints about the boarding houses at 4th and Warren streets and 5th and Mississippi. England, who is also a Mitchell police officer and been inside the homes, says the houses are unsafe and there were sanitary issues, including insect infestation.

"The neighbors are complaining that the cockroaches were traveling from those residents to their homes," England added.

Council man Everett Ferrell said another resident at the 4th and Brook streets also need looked at.

Steele told the council the issue would need to be addressed by Building Commissioner Steve Burton and the County Health Officer. Mayor Pruett said he would contact Burton about the issue.

* Perry Reynolds told the council that the Neighborhood watch program for Mitchell is registered with the nationwide organization. And now the group will be eligible to apply for grants, for signs and literature. He told the council that all ready the group has slowed down crime.

"Things are improving, all you have to do is look in the facts on file in the paper," he added. "People will know the neighborhood is being watched. This program is making Mitchell safer."

Reynolds says he could still use volunteers to be block leaders. Currently there are 24 people involved in the program with 8 being block leaders.

"I have leaved in my neighborhood for two years and was guilty of not knowing my neighbor's last name," he said. "It's hard to build a community that way. I can't force people to get involved, but we have a lot of elderly residents that could use our help and look out for them."

Reynolds also told the crowd that when they do see a crime in progress or something suspicious and they call police from a cell phone they needed to dial Mitchell Police Department directly, not call 911.

"911 calls from a cell phone go directly to the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department and then get routed to Mitchell Police," he said. "You will get a quicker response if you dial 849-2151. But if you are using a landline the 911 call will go to the Mitchell Police Station."

The block leaders plan to meet the week of the 19th and then hold a public meeting on March 29th at City Hall.

* Reynolds asked the board to address the issue of the Amish not cleaning up after their horses. He had concerns that it was getting into the streets and clogging the storm drains and that vehicles were driving through it in the parking lots. Mayor Pruett says the street department has been great about addressing the issue quickly.

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