Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

July 21, 2014

Commission paves way for Functional Devices expansion

Prairie Acres residents protest expansion of Functional Devices

TIPTON — Despite strong public opposition, the Tipton County Plan Commission Thursday night approved a pair of plat vacations and gave favorable recommendations to county commissioners for a pair of rezoning requests in an area along U.S. 31 as the battle wages on between Functional Devices and the residents in Prairie Acres subdivision.

The Plan Commission approved the plat vacations of lots 68 and 69 in section 10 of Prairie Acres. It also sent favorable recommendations on to county commissioners to change zoning at 5769 and 5803 N. U.S. 31 from agricultural to light industrial, and at 105 Wood Drive from agricultural to general business.

Functional Devices expanded from Russiaville two years ago into its current facility between 550 and 600 North, which butts up against the Prairie Acres subdivision, and is hoping to expand again, a venture which could bring 75 new jobs to the county. The firm agreed to purchase three parcels of land directly to the south of its current facility, which used to house Robert Miller and Sons Furniture prior to the new U.S. 31 bypass construction, in hopes of building a warehouse.

The bypass construction left the facility without a direct entrance off 31, leaving employees with complicated options on how to enter the property. Twelve residents in all — 10 from Prairie Acres — spoke out against the requests. Functional Devices’ employees cut through the subdivision for access to the facility, creating a safety issue for residents, particularly children, they said. That traffic often includes semi-trailers.

The meeting lasted nearly four hours, and at its height, featured a standing-room-only crowd.

”Indiana did no one any favors here with the lack of access to 31,” commissioner Joe VanBibber said. “But, both Functional Devices and Prairie Acres are here to stay. So, how do we protect these people?”

As a result, the plat vacations came with conditions. First, the commission required that the landscaping and buffering requirements be met — which Functional Devices would’ve been required to do, regardless, by existing ordinances. It was discussed in the meeting that a landscaping berm could be constructed along the south of Functional Devices to help separate the facility and the subdivision.

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