Kosciusko County Area Plan Commission recommended denying the vacation of a lakeside easement and approving rezoning property at Ind. 15 and Levi Lee Road at its  monthly meeting Tuesday.

Daniel McCann petitioned to vacate a 16-foot-wide easement in the Barbee Shores subdivision on the north side of Barbee Lake. McCann’s property is next to the easement, and his attorney said he feels the poorly maintained easement is a safety hazard that he would clean up if the property belonged to McCann.

Plan Commission Director Dan Richard said the easement runs from EMS B1A Lane to the water’s edge, and shared two letters of remonstrance against the vacation. Two area residents spoke against it as well.

Property on either side of Levi Lee Road, and on Ind. 15 at the southeast corner of the intersection, has been for sale for several years. Steve Snyder, an attorney representing DP&P Investments, said no one foresaw the commercial development along Ind. 15 north of U.S. 30, and eventually the area will be almost exclusively commercial between Warsaw’s northern border and the southern boundary of Leesburg.

Snyder said the owner of the property was willing to agree to a “buffer zone” on the east side of the properties on either side of Levi Lee Road, which would assist with drainage and help protect residential property values nearby.

Even with the zoning change, Snyder said there’s no plan in place for the property.

The land is in an overlay district, meaning the county has greater control of what goes in along the state road corridor and how traffic is handled in the area, according to Richard.

Trey Rodgers, the president of the Valley Springs Homeowners Association, spoke against the change, even though he wasn’t aware of the buffer zones. The subdivision runs behind the property on the south side of Levi Lee, and he cited concerns of increased traffic from people looking for a shortcut to the commercial properties.

Dalene Binkley has owned a home in Valley Springs for about a year, and the southeast corner of the buffer zone would meet the northwest corner of her property. She said she likes the feeling of being away from town, yet close to business services, that she currently has. She also cited traffic concerns.

Snyder said it’s been well known forever that the only way to totally control a property is to own it, and since the property in question has been for sale for years, there’s been opportunity for residents of Valley Springs to buy it. He also said that regardless of what happens to the property, traffic on Levi Lee is going to increase as people drive from Warsaw to new developments to the north and east.

The commission voted to recommend the zoning change.

In other business, Reinhold and Claudia Fussle asked to rezone 2.93 acres on Country Club Road from agricultural to residential. It’s the first step in getting the property in zoning compliance since a former chicken house was converted into a duplex, leaving three residences on the property.

Richard Helm, an attorney for the Fussles, said his client would then replat the land into a two-lot subdivision. He said a barn on the property could no longer be used if the rezoning were approved.

The board voted to recommend approval. All three cases will be brought before the Kosciusko County Commissioners at the Nov. 27 meeting.

Two final plats were also approved. The first was for Rose Cotton to divide her property on CR 700S into two lots, with plans to allow her daughter to build a home on the second lot. The other was at Shadow Lake Estates off of Old U.S. 30E, where three lots were replatted to increase the size of  the easement. The change will allow greater utility access, improve drainage and allow homeowners to improve their back yards.