Downsizing within Zimmer Corp. created a need for Daniel J. Conley to find another way to retire.

He decided to buy some property, build on five of the 20 acres, and then sell the five acres. In order to get the ball rolling, though, he needed to petition the Kosciusko County Area Plan Commission Wednesday for preliminary plat approval.

"I bought that with the intention of retiring in the country," Conley told APC.

"What I would like to do is build a house and barn combination. There'll be a block firewall between the two."

He then told the APC he will sell the house-barn combo and the five acres they're on to go into retirement on the rest of the 15 acres. Conley also said he would make sure that the property always stays in the hands of his family.

Conley petitioned the APC to rezone the 20 acres from an Agricultural District to an Agricultural II District. The property is on the north side of CR 300N and east of CR 200W in Plain Township.

His petition was one of six preliminary petitions heard in front of the APC. A final plat approval was also heard and it was approved.

Highway superintendent and engineer Rob Ladson told Conley that if the APC approved his request, the issue of water drainage from the property would need to be addressed. Conley said the drainage problem would be addressed with the pond they plan to build on a neighbor's property.

Zoning rules allow only one dwelling per 20 acres.

The petition was tabled for 30 days so Conley could talk to his neighbor about buying some extra acreage. The APC recommended Conley look into buying more acreage so he would not have to petition for a rezoning. A rezoning would allow further sub-dividing in the future if Conley sold it to someone outside his family, which he said he had no intention of doing.

"The 4.2 acres doesn't have to be anything particular as long as it abuts," county surveyor Dick Kemper said.

Bob Hendrix, a neighbor of Conley's to the east, said, "I love the woods. I love the countryside. We've talked about his plans and I love the plans. They're probably the best plans he could come up with."

In another case, Max Nifong was denied preliminary approval for a petition to rezone ground from an Agricultural District to an Agricultural II District. The property is on the north side of Pierceton Road, east of CR 350E in Wayne Township.

The 72-acre property is sandwiched between other Agricultural II districts. He said he wants to build about six houses on the property.

"The land all around me is Ag II. I'm trying to develop some nice houses in that area," Nifong said.

Ladson told Nifong: "Any development in there, you need to put in your own interior road."

Ladson said the lots must come off the interior roads and not onto Pierceton Road. Nifong would also need to address drainage problems and acceleration and deceleration roads.

His petition was denied because the APC did not want to see the area become an entire Ag II District. When Nifong said he was surrounded by Ag II Districts so he did not see why he was denied, the APC told him that he was not entirely surrounded by Ag II Districts, just some area was Ag II.

Another petition to rezone property from an Ag District to an Ag II District was tabled until the May 5 meeting because the petitioner did not show. Several remonstrators were on hand to challenge the petition.

NIKXIS Inc. wants to rezone 6.62 acres on the west side of CR 150W and south of CR 400N in Plain Township.

A petition by Michael D. Miller to rezone 7.14 acres from an Ag District to an Ag II District was denied. The property is on the east side of CR 300E and south of CR 1300N in Van Buren Township.

Plan Commission Director Dan Richard said the maximum number of sell-offs have been sold.

"No more can be done, no more can be splitted," Richard said.

Miller told the APC, "I kind of just wanted to split it up in two lots so I can build a house in the back part of it."

The APC received four letters of remonstration against the petition. Miller's brother lives on the property now.

Remonstrator Bruce Grindle said, "We'd prefer to keep the Ag I class because Ag II opens up too much." He said his remonstration was nothing personal against Miller. "With the exception of a few trees standing, it's hardly a woods anymore."

Miller said, "I've went in there and cleaned this up and tried to clean this up. I'm an animal lover just like anyone else."

The APC was worried also about opening up the area too much to development.

"If a subdivision is drawn and they meet all of our requirements, we have to approve it," Richard said.

"What we're seeing a lot of, and it's just not in this meeting, is to use Ag II as a way of getting two lots in," Richard said. "The question before you here today is, is that land suitable for Ag II?"

Other petitions heard by the APC included a petition for preliminary plat approval for an Ag II subdivision on a tract of ground. The property is on the north side of Rummel Street Extension and east of Nellie Bay Drive in Plain Township. It was approved.

Also approved was a petition for preliminary plat approval for a Ag II subdivision on 8.845 acres on the east side of CR 275E and south of CR 225S in Wayne Township.

The APC approved Michael Miller's petition for an Agricultural II subdivision on 1.19 acres. The property is on the south side of SR 14 and west of CR 600E in Jackson Township.

Final approval or denial will be given by the county commissioners at 10 a.m. on Jan. 19.