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Indiana House passes bill to allow development on steeper slopes

The empty rostrum of the Indiana House. The seal is set into stone behind the podium and a row of desks spreads out from it, which is usually home to legislative staffers during floor sessions.
Lauren Chapman
/
IPB News
A bill that aims to make more land available for housing in Monroe County by allowing development on steeper slopes passed the Indiana House on Tuesday.

A bill that aims to make more land available for housing in Monroe County by allowing development on steeper slopes passed the Indiana House on Tuesday.

The measure’s author, Rep. Dave Hall (R-Norman), said restricting developers from building on a slope steeper than 15 percent is unnecessary and prevents the county from building affordable homes.

His bill, HB 1108, would increase the maximum slope to 25 percent — with an exemption for land that drains into drinking water reservoirs for cities and towns, like Lake Monroe.

Monroe County stormwater and planning experts say allowing development on steeper slopes could send sediment pollution into underground streams that resurface in other areas of the county.

READ MORE: Bill aims to increase cheaper housing in Monroe County. Experts say it won't, raise water concerns

Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) expressed concern that the legislation is “one size fits all” in a state that has many different terrains.

“Maybe you've got a watershed that needs a stronger protection. And this bill's not going to let your local officials make that decision," he said.

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Monroe County stormwater and planning experts say building on steeper slopes could actually increase home prices because they would need more erosion control. A lot of land in the area is karst — a kind of porous rock prone to sinkholes.

Hall said the legislation would only apply to communities that have slope restrictions.

The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration.

Rebecca is our energy and environment reporter. Contact her at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

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Rebecca Thiele covers statewide environment and energy issues.