PRINCETON — Gibson County Commissioner Steve Bottoms is exploring the concept of zoning within the boundaries of Gibson County's Interstate 69 Economic Development Area as the county continues groundwork to provide infrastructure for development at the county's three state highway interchanges.
Bottoms confirmed Monday that he has discussed the concept with landowners in the area — some of whom are opposed and some who believe it will be a tool to help bring growth to the area.
The EDA, first designated as a 47,000-acre corridor in 2013 and modified in 2016, was created to pave the way for new Tax Increment Finance districts if needed.Those TIF districts would capture some of property tax revenue raised by development in that district to fund infrastructure or other projects that benefit the district.
When the EDA was created, there were no provisions for any type of zoning, but Bottoms said Monday he sees Interstate 69 as the new gateway to the county. He said that zoning protects property owners and development prospects.
"You wouldn't tackle something like this for nothing, he said. "This is our chance over here on this side of the county to finally get something."
Bottoms said the corridor is primed for development, but developers aren't interested in committing to a project without zoning to protect their investments. He said there's been some interest in housing development, but without some protection against some type of business like adult entertainment opening next door to a residential development, it won't happen.
Zoning would also protect farmland, Bottom said.
He said he's conducted some preliminary informational meetings with property owners, but the concept hasn't reached the stage of public hearings or vote of the board of commissioners.
While Princeton's zoning ordinance has been in place for decades, the concept of zoning unincorporated areas of the county has traditionally been a tough sell.
Haubstadt created a zoning ordinance in recent years, and Bottoms said he'd like to see a plan that follows that model.
"You can't get any more ag-friendly than Haubstadt," he said.
Bottoms said he would like to see action on the concept by the end of the year.