County Council puts brakes on smelly cheese abatement

LAGRANGE – LaGrange County Council put the brakes on a proposed 4-point-5 million dollar tax abatement for Middlebury Cheese Company this (Monday) morning.

The ten year abatement on real estate and equipment was sought after construction is nearly complete. That required council to waive non-compliance of notification requirements. It was mentioned that the company originally thought it needed to apply for the abatement in Elkhart County.

But Building and Zoning Administrator Robbie Miller said she has no recollection of Middlebury Cheese seeking a site plan review or a building permit for the project. Only a permit for a $145-thousand dollar project to put a roof over a concrete slab as a bay to dump milk.

Council then summoned County Attorney Kurt Bachman who agreed some of the confusion is due to the departure of former Economic Development Corporation President Ryne Kroc at the end of last year. Kroc was said to be working with the cheese company on the project.

There’s also some confusion as to whether Council approved the abatement before calling their lawyer. The only resolution before them to approve was the abatement resolution – which incorporated the waiver. Council approved a motion granting the waiver and then a motion to waive second reading.