Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

November 7, 2013

Permit for Chrysler plant scrutinized

Residents question administrative decision to extend previous permit.

By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — TIPTON — Three Tipton County residents hope the Board of Zoning Appeals will consider making the planned Chrysler transmission plant file for a new permit or at least have the extension of the old one heard in public.

Brent Snow and Nancy and Dan Carney appealed an administrative decision, made by Tipton County Building Commissioner Steve Edson, to extend the improvement location permit issued to Getrag Transmission in 2007.

The permit was originally extended for W.W. Reynolds, which purchased the property for the proposed Abound Solar plant that intended to manufacture solar panels at the site. Chrysler then purchased the unfinished building in 2012.

Edson extended the permit on June 18. On Oct. 10, Snow and the Carneys filed an appeal, which Edson denied. They then appealed his decision to the BZA.

Chrysler Group LLC is not involved in the appeal hearing, Edson said, because the appeal seeks a review of an administrative decision to deny the original appeal.

“It’s not a Chrysler issue,” Snow said Wednesday. “It is an issue between the commissioners and planning director. We want them to follow procedure.

“They made a decision behind closed doors,” he said. “I want Chrysler to file for a new permit or the extension of the current permit be considered in a public meeting.”

Snow said he is glad that Chrysler purchased the building and is setting up shop in Tipton County.

Edson denied the original appeal because it wasn’t filed with the plan commission in a timely manner.

In that appeal, the residents contend the building is only 65 to 70 percent completed and therefore not substantially complete — which might warrant an extension of an existing permit.

In a June 12 memorandum, Edson indicated he was authorized to offer the extension to the Chrysler Group by Tipton County Commissioner Mike Cline, the original appeal states. It also said Tipton would pay up to $5,000 in possible billings for the state to conduct mechanical inspections at the plant. The company would be responsible for any amount over $5,000.

Edson said at a commissioner meeting on Sept. 9 that he received permission to extend the improvement location permit.

He told members of the Tipton County Council he has the authority to extend the permit, but that he didn’t do it on his own accord and the commissioners “were on board with this.”

The appeal seeks to have Chrysler apply for a new improvement location permit and for work at the facility at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Ind. 28 be halted until a new permit is obtained.

The BZA will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the first floor conference room of the Tipton County Courthouse to consider the appeal.