Request made, proposed use, location

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William Hoover

Special Exception

Staff Report

July 19, 2007


William Hoover

Special Exception

Staff Report

July 19, 2007


Petitioner, representing the Sagamore Council of the Boy Scouts of America, is seeking a special exception to legitimize and expand the existing Boy Scout camp. Expansion and renovations would include:

1. Replacement and expansion of the existing dining hall;

2. Construction of a shower house, modern lodging facility,

ranger house and an activity building/trading post; and

3. Expansion of an existing warehouse and garage

operating 24 hours per day, 7 days per week at the Cary Camp, located at 6286 SR 26 E, Perry 20 (NW) 23-3

The property is zoned AW and FP associated with the Wildcat Creek. Sporting and recreational camps are allowed by right in the FP (with permission from the Indiana State Board of Health), except in the regulatory floodway, and by a special exception in the AW zone. Land to the east is predominantly AW and FP. West of the Cary Camp, residential zoning becomes more prevalent; R1 zoning can also be found directly south across SR 26.

The most recent BZA case in this section of Perry Township was an unsuccessful 2004 variance petition for a deck with a 0’ setback from the Flood Plain zone in the Shadowbrook development (BZA-1669).

The property has been used as a Boy Scout Camp since the 1920s and is largely wooded with associated camp buildings. East along SR 26, land becomes more agricultural with large-lot homesteads. West, toward the city limits of Lafayette, uses are increasingly residential and commercial nearing I-65.


Just west of Cary Camp, SR 26 is classified as a rural primary. According to 2002 traffic counts taken by INDOT, 10,120 passed this site daily. East of the camp entrance, SR 26 becomes a rural secondary and nearer the Clinton County line, traffic counts drop significantly to 8,350 cars per day.

Ample parking is provided on site; spaces in the AW zone are not required to be paved.


The Camp is still on well and septic, plans to extend city utilities to the camp have not yet, and may never come to fruition.

As there is ample acreage, the required 100’ property line setbacks and lot coverage minimums are met.

The Cary Camp has been on this 120+ acres since at least 1927 and predates any county zoning ordinances; it is a legally non-conforming use. The Unified Zoning Ordinance defines non-conforming uses as:

“a primary use of a structure or lot which is not permitted in 3-2 above to be operated in the zone in which it is located, and which otherwise lawfully existed at the time the applicable portion of 3-2 became effective.”

A non-conforming use may continue to be in existence as long as the following conditions are met: the land area or the cubic content of the structure(s) may not be increased, the use cannot be moved to another part of the lot, no additional structures can be erected, and the use cannot be abandoned for more than one year. This request would legitimize the camp, which is permitted by special exception in the AW zone (SIC 7032), and allow the Boy Scouts to expand several of their facilities.

According to conversations with petitioner, the camp is open year round, although use of the facilities is heavier in the summer months; approximately 9,000-10,000 visitors use the camp yearly. Estimated maximum capacity for the camp is 300 campers, which includes day campers, tent camps and maximum capacity in the cabins.
The petition states that there will be no change in traffic generation. This request does not authorize the expansion of camp capacity, only the renovation of existing structures. Petitioner estimated that the largest events, which occur about 12 times per year, generate 50-100 cars on site. Driving on camp property is prohibited and all cars must remain near the entrance to the camp at the large parking area near the dining hall and ranger house. Lighting is consistent with lighting in rural residential areas: entrance lighting and pole lights. Noise production would not be increased by this request and all activity takes place within the confines of the property.
At its meeting on June 6, 2007 the Executive Committee of the Area Plan Commission voted that granting this request would not substantially adversely affect the Comprehensive Plan.
Regarding the ballot items:

  1. Section 3.1 of the Unified Zoning Ordinance DOES authorize the special exception for this use in this zoning district.

And it is staff’s opinion that:

  1. The requirements and development standards for the requested use as prescribed by the Unified Zoning Ordinance WILL be met; all setbacks and lot coverage requirements are met.

  2. Granting the special exception WILL NOT subvert the general purposes served by the Ordinance because the camp has been operating at this site for over 70 years, and while it is now legally non-conforming, a special exception would bring this use into conformance and allow for expansion.

  3. Granting the special exception WILL NOT materially and permanently injure other property or uses in the same district and vicinity because of:

  1. Traffic generation: This request, which only includes updating of existing structures, will not change the amount of traffic generated by the camp;

  2. Placement of outdoor lighting: Over-the-door lighting and pole lights adjacent to buildings is consistent with lighting in rural areas;

  3. Noise production: Noise is limited to that of typical outdoor youth recreation;

  4. Hours of operation: 24 hours a day, 7 days per week is normal for this type of operation.



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