Water Setback Standards Not Changing

During its regular monthly meeting June 5, Kosciusko County Area Planning Commission heard from a Lake Wawasee property owner who wants the APC to consider amending the setback requirements in the county ordinance governing lakefront properties.

Amy Raspiller lives on Majestic Way on the south end of Lake Wawasee and asked the APC if it would consider amending the setback requirements from the current 35 feet from the water’s edge to 50 feet as it is in Steuben County. Kosciusko County’s ordinance does allow for a variance to be granted for up to 20 feet, though, by the county board of zoning appeals, said area planning director Dan Richard.

Richard also noted, citing a hypothetical example, if two adjacent property owners are willing to consent, averages can be used such as if one property owner has a setback of 35 feet and the other 25 feet, the one in the middle can be granted one for 20 feet.

What prompted the setback amendment request was a petition considered by the BZA from a property owner living near Raspiller who it was discovered had a porch built 28 feet from the water’s edge. The contractor admitted he measured wrong and made a mistake, Richard said, and the BZA denied the variance request and wanted the porch moved back to 35 feet.

However, the property owner, not present at the BZA meeting, was not satisfied with the decision and is appealing it, Richard said.

Raspiller said she is concerned about the preservation of lakes in general, not just where she lives, and also is concerned about the neighbors having unobstructed views of the lake. She also said she does not want to see the porch enclosed by the nearby property owner.

Chuck Haffner of the APC asked Raspiller if she had talked with the other property owner and Raspiller replied discussions have been held but nothing has been agreed to yet. Haffner also noted 50 feet for setbacks “is not practical unless we were starting from scratch.” He said there are too many existing lakefront lots of varying shapes and sizes and 50-foot setbacks would create multiple problems.

The APC did not vote on the amendment request and there was no clear indication given whether or not it will be further researched and voted upon later. Richard said the system worked in this case and “we used the averages and denied the variance.”

In other business, the APC again voted to table a road vacation request concerning property at Hoffman Lake west of Warsaw.  Jerri Flowers and Phyllis Custer are petitioning to have a section of public road right of way between U.S. 30 and a row of lots vacated because a deck was built out into the right of way, Richard noted.

The petition was first considered during the April APC meeting, but was tabled for two months to allow time for the property owners to work out an agreement to combine their lots and have their property deeds changed. One of the property owners, Ted Baker, said he would have no way to get into his back yard if the road is vacated and wants 15 feet of the vacated property to allow access to his yard.

Richard said it is important the property owners have their deeds changed and the language written on the deeds in the correct legal manner. The APC, then, voted to table the petition for six months or until Richard is notified everything has been completed.

Also on the agenda, the APC recommended approval for David and Renee Boerstler to have a portion of roadway vacated on the south end of Yellow Creek Lake. An attempt is being made to vacate an old roadway piece by piece that was platted, but the property around it not developed. The intent is to move the road where it is actually physically located.

Richard noted only the Boerstlers and one other property owner have yet to have road vacations completed in order for the process to be finished. County commissioners will consider the petition at their June 18 meeting.

In other business, the final plat of a re-plat of lots one through five in the Greystone subdivision on the east side of Chapman Lake was approved. Five lots will be consolidated into three. Richard noted the technical review committee stated even with the larger lot sizes, there is no assurance septic systems will work because of the inconsistency of the fill material used for the property.

The only other item of business was a brief report by Richard and Matt Sandy, assistant planning director, on a proposal to change the county ordinance governing the placement of communications towers.

After talking with local communications providers, it was determined a two-mile radius seems more reasonable than the six miles currently required between towers. Other nearby counties have ordinances ranging from a half-mile up to two miles.

More research will be done and further reports given to the APC.

APC meetings are held at 1 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month in the old courtroom of the county courthouse building, Warsaw.

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