GNAW BONE — A miniature golf course, petting zoo, indoor antique mall, primitive campsites and treehouse lodging will soon appear on the former Olde Time Flea Market property.
The Brown County Board of Zoning Appeals approved a private recreational development request Jan. 24 from Jeff and Patty Tracy, who are buying the flea market property on State Road 46 East on contract from Charlie Placke of Brown County Travel Trailers Inc.
The total land area, in three parcels, is 58 acres. The Tracys’ business operations would take place on all but the easternmost 5 acres, according to paperwork on file with the planning and zoning office.
They’re calling the proposed development Gnaw Bone Creek Trading Post.
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Right now, the land contains many awnings for flea market vendors, a large building and a farm implement sales space outdoors. At times, food trucks have been set up on the property.
The couple plan to continue operating the outdoor flea market but want to rearrange the awnings to “make a more appealing look and use of the property.” They intend to make the building into an antique mall.
Jeff Tracy said that a general store — which will sell camping supplies, ice and snacks — is set to open March 1. He expects the cabins and treehouses to be in place around the first week of April, and the flea market also to open around that time.
The couple’s vision is to operate a petting zoo directly behind the antique mall, to invite a local wood carver to demonstrate his craft on weekends, to build a mini-golf course with a “rural and rustic” theme along the front of the property and to build a primitive campground at the back of the property across Gnaw Bone Creek.
In addition to non-electric campsites, they’d like the campground to include several treehouses and cabins.
Their plan is to build a communal bathhouse and two new restrooms to serve the property, which will be connected to the Gnaw Bone sewer system.
Property visitors also will be able to enjoy a playground made of repurposed materials and “corn crib gazebos … decorated with a rural theme and Edison lighting,” the couple’s proposal reads.
“It’s going to be gorgeous,” Jeff Tracy said at the BZA meeting.
The flea market and antique mall, wood carving demonstrations and petting zoo are envisioned to happen in the first phase of construction, with the other attractions going up later. During the BZA meeting, Jeff Tracy said that the miniature golf course would be in phase two of the construction.
The antique mall is envisioned to operate year-round, with the outdoor attractions operating seasonally. The couple wrote that normal business hours will be from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., “with an occasional variance on holiday weekends or special events.”
The land currently is zoned general business, with “floodway fringe” and “floodway” overlay, according to Planning Director Chris Ritzmann’s staff report.
Jeff Tracy said during the BZA meeting that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will be running reports, checking water flow and doing soil tests to see if the floodway designation can be modified, so that they can put treehouses and cabins closer to the creek and on the other side of it.
General business zoning does not allow a “public camp.” Flea markets are allowed with a special exception. The county’s ordinance does not specifically mention a miniature golf course or petting zoo.
The farm implement business has until May 1 to move out, Jeff Tracy said.
The BZA approved the couple’s request, but limited any live music to being played during daytime hours and without amplifiers.
BZA attorney Dave Schilling advised Jeff Tracy to indicate all plans for the property on the map. He showed the board that live music would be in the grassy area between flea market buildings, on the east side of the property near the parking area. The area for craft demonstrations would be next to it.
No one in the audience voiced any objections. One neighbor, Marcus Dunn, spoke in support. “These kids are going to be OK. I’ll be the best neighbor you’ve ever had, if you’re the best neighbor I’ve ever had,” he said.
Another resident, Uri Stiles, complimented their plans for the flea market and for building a miniature golf course to give families other entertainment options.
“As far as the treehouses, I do a lot of camping in the summer and I would love to go camping in one of those just for the uniqueness of it and to get away from the city life,” Stiles said.
Jeff Tracy said he already had been contacted by 40 people asking about the treehouses.
“We think we really fit well with the Brown County image,” he said.
Learn more about Gnaw Bone Creek Trading Post and get updates on Facebook.