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Bandits league drops appeal

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PHILADELPHIA — After a nearly six-month struggle to build a 35-acre sports complex along CR 250W near Spring Lake, the Indiana Bandits youth baseball league has abandoned its plans.

The league dropped its appeal of an August ruling by the Hancock County Board of Zoning Appeals overturning county planners’ previous decision that the four-field complex was an allowable use under the county’s land-use ordinances.

Though he confirmed the league would no longer pursue plans for the complex across from Spring Lake, league president Ron Roberts declined to comment on the organization’s future plans.

Attorneys involved in the legal action either could not be reached for comment or declined to comment.

Spring Lake resident Pat Haley, who became the leader of a grassroots effort to oppose the sports park , said the most recent development in the controversy was gratifying.

“We are very pleased with the outcome,” Haley said. “Obviously, we were prepared to go the distance if we needed to, but now we can get involved in the possible future for that property.”

The Bandits originally approached the county for approval for the complex early last year.

The county’s land-use ordinances applicable to the site allow park uses, defined to include “athletic facilities.” Based on that language, county planning director Mike Dale ruled the facility could be permitted.

However, residents rallied and mobilized against the project, arguing that a sports complex was incompatible with the rural nature of the area and would cause a host of environmental and quality-of-life issues such as increased traffic and light pollution.

The BZA overturned Dale’s decision to allow the park by a 3-2 vote, and the league appealed.

On Tuesday, the Hancock County Area Plan Commission discussed whether a review of the county’s land-use ordinances as they pertain to parks and recreational facilities should be undertaken to clarify definitions of key provisions in order to avoid similar situations in the future.

The commission will continue to consider the matter at future meetings, Dale said.

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