ALBION — By unanimous vote on Nov. 17, the Noble County Plan Commission found that it couldn’t recommend a light industrial rezoning for an agriculture zoned property on C.R. 850N, citing the location, among other factors.

On Monday, the Noble County Commissioners took into account the plan commission’s recommendation and voted 2-1 to deny Samuel and Esther Herschberger’s request to split a 40-acre parcel located west of 4701 W. C.R. 850N, Ligonier, into a 30-acre parcel they would like to build a home on, while having 10 acres of that plot rezoned from agriculture to light industrial.

Samuel Herschberger wanted to build sheds on the property.

The plan commission has OK’d similar rezoning requests for three other properties with similar uses in that part of Noble County, which proved a sticking point for Noble County Commission President Gary Leatherman, who was the lone dissenting voice.

“It’s been OK before,” Leatherman said. “It was OK then, it’s not OK now? The plan commission is not consistent with what they’re doing. You’re picking and choosing.”

Similarly rezoned properties are located at:

• 6550 W. C.R. 900N;

• 8643 N. C.R. 600W; and

• 10719 N. C.R. 600W.

The plan commission based its decision on the location, which does not have similarly rezoned plats close by. That board also found C.R. 850N was not a suitable roadway for the kind of increased traffic such an operation would create.

“The board did not feel this was a good location,” Noble County Plan Director Teresa Tackett said. “I was concerned about the traffic flow on C.R. 850.”

According to the Noble County Planning Department, the size of the rezoning request also was an issue since it suggested a larger operation than the other three similarly rezoned areas.

The largest of the other properties was a 7-acre plot rezoned at 8643 N. C.R. 600W. But that land has a large gravel pit on it, which would limit the size of the operation.

The Herschbergers also requested on-site sales, a feature refused when the property at 10719 N. C.R. 600W went through its own rezoning process.

Randy Zeigler, a surveyor, represented the Herschbergers in their request.

“Samuel Herschberger hauls these storage sheds and delivers them,” Zeigler told the commissioners.

Now, he wants to start his own business. And he will, Zeigler said, in Noble County or elsewhere.

Zeigler said aside from a positive vote Monday, he would like to a better idea what the commissioners would accept in regards to this type of rezoning.

“Some sort of direction from the commissioners would be very helpful for us,” Zeigler said.

That part of the county is seeing an influx of Amish residents, Zeigler said, and similar applications are likely to be coming.

“They’re obviously coming into this area fairly aggressively,” Zeigler said.

“We welcome that,” Commissioner Anita Hess said.

Also at Monday’s meeting:

• The commissioners named Dr. Lisa Schowe as the county’s new health officer. The current health officer, Dr. Terry Gaff, will be retiring in early January.

Gaff said the county’s coronavirus situation was worsening, with cases per 100,000 residents and the positivity rate on tests both headed in the wrong direction.

“I’m concerned things are getting worse again,” Gaff said. “I would still recommend wearing a mask in public. It would be wonderful if people would get vaccinated.”

The commissioners thanked Gaff for his service, particularly his guidance in dealing with COVID-19. Leatherman said Gaff had gone “above and beyond,” during the crisis.

“You have been quite an asset,” Hess said.

• Leatherman also reported that the company installing trees on the old landfill site had completed its prep work, and would be back in the spring to plant the trees in the hopes of controlling the chemical waste daylighting to the surface.

In July, the commissioners got a cost proposal from Applied Natural Sciences Inc., a company that has had success controlling leachate by strategically planting trees that soak up the water, eliminating the carrying agent that moves the contaminants to the surface.

The proposal involves planting 47 trees at the landfill. Those 47 trees would come from three varieties — American sycamore, Sioux land poplars and weeping willows.

The cost install those 47 trees in specially designed wells would be $200,505.

The company also proposed a contract to provide oversight on the project to the tune of $43,620 over a three-year period.

In March, commissioners approved $20,600 for an initial study by Applied Natural Sciences Inc. At its most basic form, phytoremediation involves the planting of trees where groundwater is collecting. The trees soak up the groundwater and the chemicals.

Applied Natural Sciences Inc. has been engineering phytoremediation since 1988.

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