Debate over comprehensive zoning in Gibson County continues with protest

Local News

GIBSON COUNTY, Ind. (WEHT) — The push for a comprehensive zoning ordinance in Gibson County is on again.

The area planning committee is discussing the issue that opponents view as an added expense and a detriment to rural residents.

“Many of our citizens are well educated and understand for any major factories or companies or industries have to first meet state guidelines, and in many cases, federal guidelines. So we feel like we’re already protected as taxpayers,” Warren Fleetwood, Gibson County Commissioner Candidate for District 3, said.

“It just is an added tax. Because they have to pay people to do all this and it’s got to come from somewhere, so it’s going to be another tax add-on,” Kenneth Montgomery, Gibson County Commissioner Candidate for District 2, said.

The area planning committee originally scheduled a meeting that would allow public comment on zoning in the county, but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The protesters claim this meeting was held in place of a hearing to muffle their voices and to cut off public input, but committee president Steve Obert says that’s not the case.

“If you are reading something that says that your opinion and your voice is being muted by elected officials that is completely and 100% false,” Obert said.

Despite the lack of public comment during the meeting, several county officials discussed the topic with the protesters prior to the meeting.

The committee heard presentations but did not vote during Thursday’s meeting. They say no votes will be taken until after a public hearing is held.

Some concerns about zoning include its impact on the agriculture and the distribution of solar and wind energy.

“I will tell you that both entities have told us that they favor zoning,” attorney Mike Schopmeyer said.

Gibson is the only county in Indiana without a comprehensive zoning ordinance.

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(This story was originally published on July 9, 2020)

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