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Proposed bill brings Tippecanoe County stone quarry debate back to light

The public debate over a stone quarry in Americus is over, but once again a southern Indiana lawmaker is trying to take the fight to the statehouse.

Posted: Jan 22, 2019 11:25 PM
Updated: Jan 23, 2019 1:19 AM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — The public debate over a stone quarry in Americus is over, but once again a southern Indiana lawmaker is trying to take the fight to the statehouse.

News 18 has been following the debate for more than five years. After stopping it at every conventional route, neighbors thought the fight was over.

Until last year, when Rep. Jeff Ellington proposed a bill to change the rules of the fight. That bill failed, but now it's back with even more restrictions on local government control.

If passed, House Bill 1531 would make a Tippecanoe County stone quarry a possibility once again. It puts regulation at the local level on natural resource development, taking some control away from municipal plan commissions and board of zoning appeals.

"The whole zoning structure in the state of Indiana would be negated, so anybody in any county in any city in Indiana didn't have to worry about zoning anymore because they've already said all you need are state permits," said co-president of  Americus Area Community Coalition, Kay Miller. 

Rep. Jeff Ellington said he won't be surprised if history repeats itself in this ongoing battle.

"Honestly I'm not very confident, I'll be lucky if I even get a hearing."

So why is he trying?

"A lot of these communities just don't realize what's out there backyard, how would this improve their economy," said Ellington. 

He added the goal has never been to take away control, instead he hopes to shift it.

"I don't think you would ever find a stone quarry, gravel pit move into a residential area unless it was already pre-zoned for mineral extraction so all those designations are still controlled by your local planning staff," said Ellington. 

That's not enough for Miller, who hopes all decisions concerning the county are made in the county.

"It makes you feel helpless, it makes you feel like no one cares about personal rights."

The bill is currently in the hands of the Local Government Committee. News 18 also reached out to State Representative Sheila Klinker who said she's strongly opposed and will fight it if necessary.

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