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BZA denies salvage yard variance


The LaGrange County BZA denied a request for a variance that would have allowed the continuation of a metal salvage yard, despite the claims that it was a home-based recycling business.

The variance request was made by Marlin Knepp of 7495W 100N in Shipshewana, who has also been before the LaGrange County Commissioners for a nuisance hearing. The variance was to operate a salvage/junkyard in an A-1 zone.

Attorney Richard Muntz, representing Knepp, told the board that the activities were “more in line of a home occupation. He recycles metal from various locations and cuts it into smaller pieces for recycling.”

Muntz told the board that Knepp was not running a salvage operation.

Muntz also noted that Knepp was erecting a fence to enclose the operation and shield it from view.

Muntz recommended a variance not as a salvage yard, but asked for a “very restrictive” one for metal recycling that would include finishing the fence, and would not allow employees, signs, or large trucks. “By doing it that way, they won’t impact the community,” Muntz said.

But neighbors who spoke at the hearing all agreed that it had been an eyesore for too long. All said that they consider the Knepps to be good neighbors, but were against allowing the continuation of the metal scrapping in what is otherwise a residential area. “It’s not the place for salvage of any kind,” one neighbor said. One remonstrator noted that cleaning up the Knepp property had been discussed for at least the last 10 years and that it had gone too far.

The board noted how long the issue had been going on, and expressed concern that it could revert back to the present condition. Planning Administrator Bob Shanahan clarified that it could not be considered a home-based business as there was outside storage and a home-based business could not have any “outward appearance of business.”

The board voted to deny the variance request.

In other business:

The board approved a land use variance for Tim Mullins at 5775W 750N, who applied for a canoe rental and livery business. A petition was given to the commission against “commercial use of Fawn River.” The business will still need site plan approval at the July plan commission meeting.

Ben Miller’s land use variance application was approved to operate multiple businesses in a single building. Miller is planning a soft pretzel bakery that would also include a separate area for meetings at Berkshire Dr. and SR 5 in Shipshewana.

Verne and Kelly Peake of 12000E 395S received approval for two side yard setbacks and building a garage on an auxiliary lot not contiguous to the primary lot.




Leroy Mullet’s application for a single family dwelling in a B-3 zone at 6870 S. SR 5 in Topeka was approved.

John Hench was approved for a north and south property line setback of 5.9 ft. and a 27.1 ft. driveway/easement setback at 4410S 930E in Wolcottville.