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 Knightstown BZA Approves Request

March 7, 2007 - The Knightstown Board of Zoning Appeals granted a variance last week that appears likely to result in a new business on the north side of town.

By a vote of 5-0, the BZA granted a variance to CFH Enterprises of Greenfield with respect to property located at 234 W. Warrick St. The variance will allow CFH to operate its business at a site now zoned for residential use.

CFH's owner, Joe Peacock, made a brief presentation about his company during last week's hearing on his variance request. He also answered questions from concerned citizens who came to learn more about CFH and how the business might affect those who live nearby.

Currently, CFH, a general contractor whose biggest client is McDonald's, employs about 30 people, although Peacock said he hopes to increase that number to 40 to 45. He said only about 10 people will work out of the business' office, with the remainder working at job sites in Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

"It's a very close knit, and difficult organization to be hired into," Peacock said. "We don't have a lot of employee turnover. … That's one of the reasons why we're so successful." He introduced his mother, who is his partner in the company, and Ken Stroke, CFH's director of operations who runs the company while Peacock is on the road meeting with clients and potential clients.

Peacock stressed that he intends to be a responsible business owner and wants to be thought of as a good neighbor. He said, "I don't want to have to duck and hide when I go to the library with my children. … At the end of the day, we've got to know we did the right thing."

One of the first things Peacock said he plans to do is paint the building, which he called "an eyesore." He said the building needs to "blend in and be part of the neighborhood … something that's appealing."

Knightstown resident Bill Windsor, who lives on West Carey Street, said he was concerned that semitrailers would have to drive onto his property to navigate the turn into the building's unloading dock area. Peacock plans to have some trees on the property taken down to give the trucks more room. Windsor also questioned how the BZA could even consider CFH's variance request since neither Peacock nor his company own the property. He said he could recall at least two past instances where the BZA had denied variance requests because the party making the request had not been the property owner.

David Glenn, president of the Knightstown Town Council, said the town's attorney, David Copenhaver, told him CFH could petition for the variance if they had a letter from the property owner authorizing them to do so. This prompted Windsor to remark that Copenhaver had also been the same attorney who previously told the BZA it could only grant a variance to the property's owner.

Peacock confirmed that the owner of the property, Spectra Premium (USA) Corp., had told him he could act on their behalf. A letter dated January 24 from Spectra's director, Denis Poirier, authorizing Peacock to apply for the variance, had been given to the BZA with CFH's request for the variance. In light of the letter from Spectra, BZA President Tom Barton said the board would go ahead and proceed. However, he said the board's vote on the variance request would be contingent on getting a letter from Copenhaver stating that it was OK for the BZA to act on the request. Peacock said that would also put him at ease.

Windsor also asked if the town would be giving CFH a tax break. Glenn said that issue had not been discussed yet. Peacock said he may ask the town for a tax break, but said a decision had not been made at this time.

"The biggest issue," Peacock said, "is I don't know the total cost yet." He said his current plans would have his Greenfield facility and a smaller one in Mooresville closed and relocated to Knightstown by September.



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