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Discussion to allow a junkyard in Lapel continued to October zoning meeting

Town of Lapel considering allowing a junkyard

LAPEL, Ind. (WISH) — The request to rezone a parcel of agricultural land to industrial use to accommodate a new salvage yard in Lapel has been pushed to a Board of Zoning Appeals meeting in October.

LKQ is an auto salvage business looking to open a new salvage junkyard facility where it will remove usable parts to resell and then store the car bodies outside of the facility.

Noah Bozell, the Town of Lapel Council President, says the company did not ask for any tax abatements.

“I think that the financial portion from TIF that it would bring to the town, that’s a good reason because we’re a small community and we don’t have a lot of funds,” Bozell said.

Critics of the proposal are concerned that cars that have yet to be scrapped will leak hazardous fluids into the ground and contaminate the water.

Greg Valentine, who owns a family farm that has been in the area for 170 years, is a concerned party.

“They’re promising they will never leak a fluid out of a vehicle,” Valentine said. “Accidents will happen. Something will break. Something will leach into the ground.”

Some citizens say there is a conflict of interest between Landon Paddock and his family members on the town council and planning commission. Paddock is the Vice President of ARCO Design/Build, a company that could construct the facility for LKQ, and has worked with the auto salvage company in the past.

The town’s legal counsel says there is no conflict of interest under state law because the two identified family members, Councilman Brian Robertson and Dan Paddock, the vice president of the planning commission, are not dependents of Landon Paddock.

“There’s a relationship between the [potential] developers of the new proposed facility and one of the planning commissions son,” David Smethers, a farmer, said. Smethers’ family farm has been in the area for 100 years.

“I am not aware of any conflict of interest,” Bozell said. “There was someone on the council; they were questioning if they should vote on this. And our legal team found no nepotism.”

The meeting was continued after new findings were presented to the board of zoning appeals.

Attorney Russell Cate, legal counsel for the concerned citizen, presented evidence of potential harm from salvage yards to the environment. He also presented evidence of over $3 million dollars in environmental protection agency violations from LKQ to the board.

This issue will be discussed during the next board of zoning appeals meeting on Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. in The Station, located at 1028 Main Street in Lapel.

Editors note: Some members of the community have identified ARCO Design/Build as a potential ‘project developer’ for the LKQ project. ARCO is a construction company and could build the facility if selected but it would not take on the role of project developer in this case.