Tuesday, September 21, 2004

20 September 2004 earborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

20 September 2004 Commissioner Meeting

Present: Dan Batta, Acting Chairman, and Vera Benning. Absent: Karen Shell (Grandson gravely ill at Children’s Hospital) and Cary Pickens, Auditor. Also present: Lorie Howard, County Administrator, Lisa Lehner, Attorney, and Brenda Hensley, acting minute taker for auditor.
Register Publications covered this meeting- watch the newspaper for further coverage of issues from this meeting.

1. Travis Miller- Planning Director- presented the zone change request from Ag to R that received a favorable recommendation from the Plan Commission for Steve and Carol Hapanowicz on North Dearborn Road. The property is next to a residential subdivision, Harley Springs. No public objections. Vera Benning motioned and Batta 2nd to approve including the 5 considerations that must be adhered to according to state law (read by the county attorney) before granting a zone change.
The second item on vacating streets for Dearborn Gravel was not ready to be heard at this time.

2. Lawrenceburg Schools and Greendale City officials presented their request (and frustrations) regarding tax disbursements.
Dan Kuebler- supt. L-bg Schools- spoke of their issues with a major funding battle over the last year. So far in borrowing money, even at low interest rates, they have incurred $136,500 interest fees in ’03 and to date in ’04 incurred $138,997 +. This is just to keep the doors open. He has conversed with Cary Pickens and feels the fault lies in perhaps several places. What can be done- SOON?
Doug Hedrick- Mayor of Greendale’s comments included the fact that G-dale as had to essentially shut down all capital improvements except for the sewer lines and that they did not come to point fingers, but a lot of towns besides G-dale are in trouble due to this. He presented IC to the board and stated that the tax dollars are to be distributed in 51 days once they are collected. Also requested that they hire more people to work longer to get this done!
Phil Weaver, County Treasurer, stated that he’d finished posting records this week- it took time because of all the overpayments, so as records were being posted disbursements had to be reviewed. This posting should be certified to the auditor this week and then auditor sends it to the state for approval. He hopes to have things in place by the end of October.
Joey Lynch, Clerk Treasurer of G-dale- spoke of the intricacies of having to report a negative balance to the state with outstanding loans and its effect on tax rates in the future. She stated that 6 months ago they got these same answers and she feels this is really no answer.
Hedrick noted that the towns have to pay interest on all these loans.
Greg McAdams- L-bg School Board- wanted to know if the auditor and treasurer have used all their available overtime resources.
Al Abdon- G-dale Council- wanted to know if the county could offer additional assistance to Phil Weaver for the next step for ’03-’04 taxes to speed it up.
Tim Denning- President L-bg School Board- wanted to know why all the affected offices in the county were not here tonight. They knew we were coming- we could have covered this better. Lawrenceburg can’t hire the 9 new teachers they need. Referring to the county officials- “We have 2 elected officials who are basically incompetent in their jobs.”
Pat Holland- citizen and Ag teacher in Ripley County- remarked that the state set these rules and THEY should pay the interest on the loans!
Al Abdon remarked that it wasn’t the state’s fault at this point- 82 out of the 92 counties in Indiana have complied already.
The commissioners took their comments under advisement.
[Note: Hopefully, the county understands the seriousness of the impacts of our slow reassessment. Relying on the Riverboat Revenue has lessened the impact to some extent, but not without serious implications on future tax consequences and impacts to the educational process in the city schools and to town tax rates.]

3. Citizen request to go to council for summer art program- no one showed up to speak to this request.

4. MASTER PLAN PUBLIC HEARING- Travis Miller Planning Director. Meeting was advertised. Lisa Lehner gave an overview of the legal process- that the commissioners adopt the plan by resolution and not by ordinance. They do it by majority vote. (It takes two to accept, deny, or amend) She stated that the plan needed certain elements to be covered in it and she believes it covers those elements. She states that additional things can be covered in the plan if the county so desires.
If the plan is rejected or amended it returns to the Plan Commission for consideration.
Travis Miller presented an overview of the plan with slides. He went over the plan, the process, goals, strategies, and guidelines. Land Use performance criteria included the following 5 principles for consideration: slopes, roadways, sanitary sewer, flood plains, and average parcel size. (See the county web site of local libraries for a full copy of the master plan)
Public comment:
[Note: 23 citizens were in attendance- most were from the advisory board itself. None of the developers usually present were in attendance]
Mike Rozow- representing DCEDI (Economic Development Initiative) as a board member- stated that Jim West was unable to attend but sent a written statement that Rozow read into the record. [Note: Commissioners have a copy of this letter] Basically the letter stated that he wanted to be sure that commercial and industrial uses were considered. He was concerned about topographical issues in our county because slopes reduce the available land for these uses. He specifically hoped that the county considered areas for future industrial and commercial use and went on to say that he wanted an overlay map for outlining in black and white where future commercial/industrial uses can occur. [Note: Has anyone considered that drawing lines on maps could infringe on property rights of the owners of those properties? What about market driven requests?]
Chris Mueller- advisory member
- spoke with respect to the flexibility of this plan to allow for creative solutions to some of these uses. Using the guidelines in this plan- and the knowledge from years of Plan commission meeting attendance, there were many more areas potentially available to develop than an overlay map might cite. It would be presumptuous to think we know every type of business that might propose to come here. If you use the five principles- you have a strong argument to get your rezone for commercial if you can accommodate all five principles.
Patrick de Maynadier- Plan Commission member- elaborated further and stated that using the verbal guidelines you can essentially create a map of sites.
Tom Osterman- property owner, but non-resident- questioned how we could increase new development and lower taxes and preserve the rural character. He attended a meeting years ago in Yorkville concerning lots of 20-acre minimums etc. and was concerned about the tax consequences now that we are on a market value tax system. It was explained to him that this plan was different from the one discussed in Yorkville- that was the last failed attempt at a master plan.
Vera Benning- County Commissioner- stated that she had several questions. She started with wanting to know if there was a plan for the densely populated areas like Bright and HVL. It was stated that there was none. She wanted to know if there were plans to extend the roads and sewers out into the other parts of the county so development could occur there. She wanted to know how economic development was covered. Travis Miller answered that it was covered in the collective theme- along with the other uses. Benning’s next question was that considering the current demographics, where does the plan have strategies to fix these problems?
Mark Mitter- Plan Commission Chairman- tried to answer the question. Vera Benning stated that she was confused. Mitter stated that he could tell she was confused. He said he was confused by her question. (Discussion at this point seemed to stop, as Benning couldn’t make a clear statement of her issue.)
Dan Batta showed Vera Benning that on page 136 there were references to guidelines to alleviate the problems of some of our demographics.
Nicole Daily- Advisory board member- noted that the plan was a collaboration for all the problems of the county, not just geared to some specific detailed ones.
Bill Ullrich- Council member and Advisory Board member – said he was involved with the plan from the outset, that it was community driven, not driven by an outside consultant, and that it was not going to solve all the problems in the county. He saw it as a tool to address future quality of life issues that come with managing growth. Every situation should stand on its own merit. The plan should provide the least impact to the individual’s property rights and still benefit the community. He thought that adopting the plan along with the DCEDI would be a great way to work hand in hand. He stated also that even though “it’s a plan for the unincorporated areas of the county, those areas are often accessed through the incorporated areas.”
Benning stated- “So if I don’t vote for it- watch out going out the door!”
Tom Osterman- property owner- stated that DCEDI has a remarkable opportunity here- with an interested community of people who worked on this plan. He noted that we would have to take some risks too.
Dan Batta- Commissioner and Plan Commission member- “We have the best case here- we have a development pressure. That means people want to move here.”
Tarry Feiss- Plan Commission member- this plan is a framework- it won’t answer all the problems, but it is flexible and creative. It can last a long time because of its flexibility.
Vera Benning- I’m going to make a motion – I must reject this plan in its current form.
Dan Batta- stated that he could not second that motion- so it failed
It was decided that the October 4th morning meeting of the commissioners would reconsider the plan when Karen Shell could be present.
Mark Mitter –Plan Commission Chairman
- stated that so many people had worked so long and hard on this plan- that it wasn’t a perfect document, but it was flexible and fair. He stated that the plan was done so that parcel sizes were irrelevant and that they’d used guidelines of planning practices instead. He went on to state that with all this work and the money invested by the county in Housing and Transportation studies for the plan, he felt that we were at a point where we have great potential. Then he asked Vera Benning,You were a part of this process, right?”
Vera Benning asked him why he was addressing her. She stated she didn’t come here for a confrontation.
Mitter stated that he wanted to know the reasons for her desire to reject the plan.
Benning consulted with Lisa Lehner at this point.
She finally asked Mitter if she should send the written questions to him. Batta suggested they go to Travis Miller.
Laverne Kolb stated that the plan was a living document and that it would be reviewed every 5 years or more often if needed.
Vera Benning stated that she didn’t know the legal ramifications of accepting the plan now. What if there was a time delay before it could be changed or complete new plan could be done again… How can you change it?
Chris Mueller- advisory board member- asked if there were criteria for commissioners to consider when adopting a resolution to accept a master plan similar to what is required for a zone change.
Lisa Lehner replied there really was no other criteria. They could reject it if they didn’t like the direction it was giving, even if it satisfied all the elements required of a master plan.

5. County Administrator Lorie Howard waived her report.

6. County Att’y – Lisa Lehner- gave a report on the status of the CMHC issues and paperwork was signed to proceed with that building.

7. Minutes and claims signed.

Meeting adjourned at 10:10 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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