PRINCETON — If Indiana’s COVID-19 Back on Track plan advances to stage 5 Saturday as planned, limitations on the size of public gatherings are lifted, which could allow the work of the Gibson County Advisory Planning Commission to resume.

The advisory plan commission is tasked with developing a comprehensive land use ordinance to recommend to Gibson County Commissioners, who will ultimately decide whether to put zoning in place in unincorporated areas of the county.

The APC was scheduled to conduct a third public hearing on proposed zoning in Gibson County March 19, but that meeting was postponed until further notice, when the stay-at-home order was imposed by Gov. Eric Holcomb, restricting public meetings at that time to 10 people or fewer. APC working meetings planned for March 31 and April 7 at the North Annex meeting room were also postponed.

New dates for the rescheduled public meetings were to be announced at a later date, although the commission still offered residents an opportunity to provide comments regarding the Gibson County Comprehensive Land Use Planning Ordinance to individual APC members. Those seeking copies of the current draft version of the plan ordinance can contact April Graper at agraper@gibsoncounty-in.gov.

In Stage 5, meetings of 250 or more people are allowed, with proper social distancing accommodations.

In mid March, an attorney filed a complaint to the Indiana Public Access Counselor’s office, alleging the APC did not post notice of its Feb. 28 meeting and meeting agenda at the North Annex prior to the meeting.

The meeting date, place and time was advertised in local news outlets prior to the meeting.

Attorneys for the APC responded to the formal complaint by noting that they failed to photograph the notice of the meeting that was posted at the North Annex. In the response, it was also noted that the APC intends to conduct at minimum, one more public hearing, and notice of that hearing will be posted well in advance.

The IPAC ruling on the matter issued last week noted that the APC’s response to the complaint “does not explicitly refute the claims” and holds out the possibility that if the claims are true, it was merely an oversight. The conclusion was that the APC violated the Indiana Open Door Law if it did not post a meeting notice or a copy of a utilized agenda at the Feb. 28 meeting.

Email Andrea Howe at andrea@pdclarion.com.

— Email Andrea Howe at andrea@pdclarion.com

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