VIGO COUNTY, Ind. — A new hurdle in the drawn out debate over the Vigo County jail.
County commissioners have been looking at building a new county jail in hopes of solving overcrowding problems at the current jail in downtown Terre Haute. They are seriously considering the site of the old International Paper plant.
The problem is that the old plant, which closed in 2007, is not properly zoned for a structure such as a jail, according to Terre Haute city councilors. Because of this the city says the county will have to apply for the proper zoning since the property is within city limits.
However, county commissioners say they should get a variance on that zoning.
“If we as a body don’t let the commissioners know that we expect them to follow our city zoning ordinances and laws, then we fail as a community,” said Councilor Martha Crossen at a city council meeting Wednesday.
Other councilors, like George Azar, say they are willing to take the county to court of the disagreement, but urges both parties to work together to figure out a solution.
“It may lead us into a legal battle with the county,” Azar said. “I hate that, because I don’t like to see county and city against each other. I think we should work together and not against each other.”
Some residents who attended the meeting said they don’t want to see a jail on the IC Plant property at all. Instead, vouching for a plan proposed by Terre Haute resident Tim Drake, to turn the building into a music venue called “The Hill.”
Drake tells WTHI he expects to invest $1.5 million to get the venue up and running. He hopes to have his plans moving forward by January, but that might depend on how the dispute of a new jail turns out between the county and city of Terre Haute.