Feb. 9—ANDERSON — The Anderson City Council has given preliminary approval for a change in zoning for the construction of a new Madison County jail.
The city council Thursday passed the ordinance through two of the three required readings to approve the rezoning request from the Madison County Commissioners and Meijer.
The third reading will take place at the March meeting.
The final step will be for the Anderson Board of Zoning Appeals to approve a special use for the property, expected at the April meeting.
Commissioner John Richwine said the county looked at several locations and wanted a minimum of 40 acres.
The site is on Broadway behind several commercial businesses including the Wendy's and Captain D's and the area north of the Anderson roller arena.
"We wanted a site with all the available utilities," Richwine said. "Meijer was interested in selling and we had a willing seller."
The county is buying the property from Meijer at a cost of $795,000.
The county is planning to build a facility at a cost of $85 million to house 525 inmates and will include the administrative offices for the Sheriff's Department.
Richwine said the plan is to have two pods for the housing of inmates, but only to complete 1 1/2 pods allowing room for future expansion.
When asked, Richwine said the county believes it will need all 525 beds and is not interested in renting jail space to other counties.
"We want to build the best jail possible," Richwine said. "We will be dipping into our reserves to pay the anticipated soft costs of up to $12 million."
Maj. Mike Warner with the Madison County Sheriff's Department said the jail administrative staff prefers that all the pod space is completed.
Councilman Jeff Freeman asked that the county consider fencing that would block the view of the jail from the roller arena.
Sanjay Patel, project manager with RQAW architecture, said the main entrance to the facility will be off Broadway and the administrative offices will be facing to the east.
"The exact location has not been finalized for the site," Patel said.
Asked about the current jail in downtown Anderson, Richwine said the facility is no longer usable.
"We want to work with the city on the best use for the facility," he said.
Mikeal Vaughn, a member of the Madison County Council, said he toured several jails in Indiana and is pleased with the design.
"I hope it encourages development in the area," he said.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.