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Indiana Land Resources Council gets fresh start
Indiana Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana Land Resources Council (ILRC) resumed work last week after being inactive for more than a year.

“We postponed the work of the Indiana Land Resources Council in early 2005 because we wanted to take a hard look at what was needed here in our state,” said Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman. “In that time we have heard from many local communities that proper land use planning for all their industries, including agriculture, will improve their economic development activities.”

The ILRC is composed of representatives from county and municipal governments, home building and land development, agriculture, business, environmental interests, soil and water conservation districts and forestry, as well as a land use expert. The Council’s mission is to evaluate all types of land use, not just agricultural land use.

First on their agenda is to develop model ordinances and other tools for counties and municipalities. The group also will review current laws and statutes and may recommend legislative changes.

“We recognize and respect local control, and at the same time we are also receiving requests from local communities to help them with land use planning,” said Ag Director Andy Miller. “The Council’s goal is helping communities be proactive rather than reactive, to prepare plans and regulations before controversies arise.”

R.J. McConnell, a Johnson County commissioner, represents county government on the Council.

He has the perspective of a “doughnut” county of Indianapolis that has been “busting at the seams for over a decade.”

“We have to deal with the problems of inadequate planning in the past that has led to our county having built cities outside of cities, some without sewers and all with the tax and government infrastructure to provide sufficient police and fire protection and road maintenance,” McConnell said.

McConnell said many steps taken in the past to protect farmland from urban sprawl have had the opposite effect. In Johnson County, it is prohibited to build on a parcel of less than 10 acres unless an applicant seeks a subdivision or mini-plat.

“Rather than promoting effective use of residential land, this policy has created 10-acre lots that rarely can be farmed and usually does not allow for city water and sewers,” he said.

Other members of the council and their areas of interest are:

•Joe Klump, Bedford mayor, municipal government
•Matt Gibson, Gibson Family Farms, Morocco, agriculture
•Dave Compton, Pulte Homes of Indiana, Carmel, home building and land development
•Bruce Everhart, Wells Fargo ag banking manager, Rushville, business
•Mary McConnell, The Nature Conservancy, Indianapolis, environment
•Eric Damian Kelly, professor and acting chair, Department of Urban Planning, Ball State University, land use expert
•Gene Schmidt, Indiana representative to National Assoc. of Conservation Districts, Hanna
•John Brown, Pike Lumber, Akron, forestry

This farm news was published in the Oct. 4, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.