Friday, October 29, 2004

The Suburbanization of Dearborn County

Citizens of Dearborn County Beware! The suburbanization of the County is coming and you will pay for it.

Over a year ago, our “Realtor” Commissioner stood in front of a group of citizens of her district and the proposed sewer district and repeatedly stated the sewer district was not about development. Even when questioned about the Gabbard estate, she reiterated is was not about development. The sewer district was to “help?’ the citizens.

Early this year the newly appointed board of the Dearborn County Sewer District also indicated it was not about development. They even indicted they would stop all development until the sewer system was in place. The system was to be designed for the approximately 300 homes in that part of the district, with a 20 percent (60 homes) growth allowance for the expected expansion in the next twenty years.

The current planning from the District indicates it is $2,000,000 over budget and will cost the residents of the District approximately $70 to $75 a month.

Monday night, at the Dearborn County Plan Commission meeting, the first phase of the Stonebrook Subdivision on the old Gabbard estate was all but approved. It seems the Dearborn County Sewer District Board with the help of Lisa Lehner, Dearborn County Attorney, and Vera Benning, Special Consultant to the Board, are all but tripping over themselves in their rush to sign a contract to provide sewer service to the developer, Ralph Meierjohan, Ameritek Custom Homes, Cincinnati, OH.

The first phase of the subdivision will include about 120 homes, or twice the total spare capacity of the system. The remainder of the estate was allegedly not yet in planning for development. However, the developer in addition to the notation for future development on the remainder of the estate, is acquiring the adjoining Conaway estate. This will not only add 43 acres, but also provide access to both Huesman and Mt. Tabor Roads for additional entrances to the subdivision. This could easily double or triple the number of houses to be added.

The Realtor for the Conaway estate is Bret Fehrman, Fehrman Realty (see his signs on the property) and Bret was allegedly instrumental in the sale of the Gabbard estate. By the way, Mr. Fehrman is a member of the very sewer district board that is rushing to contract with the developer to provide the public sewer service needed to develop the property.

Impact fees were proposed to the Board to have the developers pay for a substantial cost of development, especially since the District was not about development. This proposal was tabled by the Board.

In the Planning meeting, the Plan Commission obtained from the school district an approximate cost of $27,000 just for school bus service to the subdivision. Since there are no mechanisms for impact fees, there is no way to cover any of this cost. The $27,000 does not include the cost of educating an average 2.3 students per house (at approximately $5,500 per year) expected to populate the subdivision. Nor, does it include the cost to provide building space for the additional 275 students added by just the first phase. Nor, fire, police and EMS service.

The developer will initially build the roads, but, once they are turned over to the County, the County will have to pay to maintain them. Plus, there is the increased costs for utility providers. Didn’t Aurora Utilities just increase the monthly water bill to pay for a new water tower near the high school, to among other things help supply water to the new loads in that direction?

If you think the new residents of the subdivision will pay enough taxes to cover all these expenses, guess again. The proposed house cost mentioned at the meeting Monday night was around $180,000. The real estate taxes for such houses will not even cover the cost to educate one student for a year, much less all the real costs of supporting the subdivision. Other taxpayers will have to make up the difference or services will have to be reduced.

Several candidates for County Council have pointed out in their campaigns, the negative impact of residential development in the County and the need for Industrial development to balance the tax burden. What we are seeing is more of this negative.

The citizens of the District are being forced to pay for the very development they may not want. They will also be forced to suffer all the negative aspects of the development, such as, overcrowded schools, stretched school budgets, stretched highway maintenance budgets, the increased traffic on US 50 (phase I will add approximately 250 autos a day), increased runoff from hard surfaces, urbanization of rural neighborhoods and increased utility costs. One neighbor of the new subdivision stated in the Monday meeting, that they had moved from Greendale to obtain the rural setting, where they just finished building a new home. Now, they will soon have a subdivision at the back of their property, bringing noise and light pollution and destruction of the ecology to a beautiful rural area.

Our government has misled us about “not about development” from the beginning. Our “Realtor” Commissioner is not serving the citizens of her District or the County. She is working to help the Developers and Realtors get rich at the expense of the citizens of the County.

She is already openly boasting, that in January, when Mr. Fox and Mr. Hughes are elected (Candidates supported by the developers and supporting “property owners rights), she will control the County. She plans to repeal the newly enacted Master Plan for the County and continue to foster the development of the County, just as she has been doing, at the expense of the citizens of Dearborn County. Apparently “property owners rights” means the right of large property owners to sell for the highest price to any developer in total disregard for their neighbors and in addition, have their neighbors help pay for the development they may not want.

In addition to the sewer district along US 50, there are four more sewer districts in planning. They are along highways from the Aurora/ Lawrenceburg area outward, State Route 1, Highway 350, Highway 48 and around the New Alsace area. There are four more opportunities for our “Realtor” Commissioner to have the citizens of the County pay for the Developers and Realtors to get rich.

The only way to change this, is to let your voice be heard. Vote for responsible Commissioners. Write and call your Commissioners and State Congressmen. Tell them what you want. Tell them you want a recall law to be able to stop out of control public officials. Tell them to control development and impose impact fees. Get involved in the process, or just sit back and let the Developers and Realtors get rich at your expense and turn rural Dearborn County into another congested Hamilton County, Butler County, Warren County.

Ralph E. Thompson, Jr., PE, CPE, NSPE

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

25 October Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes

25 October 2004 County Plan Commission Notes

Present: Mark Mitter, Chairman, Mike Hall, Dan Batta, Roger Woodfill, Nick Held, Patrick de Maynadier. Absent: Rick Pope and Tarry Feiss. The ninth member resigned last month due to family responsibilities. Arnie McGill Att’y and Travis Miller, Plan Director, also present.

Denise Freitag from Register Publications also covered this 5 hour and 15 minute meeting. See the paper in coming weeks for more details.

The Master Plan that was passed becomes effective November 15th after public notices have been placed for the prescribed legal time.

There were numerous requests (4) throughout the evening to “speak up” because the sound system does not work. (Mitter suggested to the crowd that they write their commissioners to fix it. Batta suggested that the Council fund it. Mitter said if he’d request it, then Mitter would vote to fund it.)

1. 7:10 PM Zone Change for 33 acres in Logan Township from Ag to PUD (Planned Unit Development) for parts of The Farm Golf Course (Lonnie Steele) and property across Mt. Pleasant owned by Dave Rohe. Proposed to have 100+ condos on the Rohe side. The restaurant at The Farm is apparently considered to be in violation because it operates after hours for the golf course. [NOTE: If the restaurant is an accessory use to the permitted use on the property, than it might be considered legal. If there were a driving range or putting area that operated after dark during the remaining hours that the restaurant/clubhouse was open, would that “legalize” the operations?]
Presenter was Nicole Daily and Mark Rosenberger of Bayer Becker Engineers.
Only one citizen (Greg Huffman- a builder) spoke for the public citing road issues and problems if golf carts cross the road to the condos. He felt there was too high a density for the area and roadway.
After discussion Roger Woodfill motioned to send and unfavorable and Patrick de Maynadier 2nded citing poor fit for the neighborhood character, lack of a unified theme for the PUD, burden on the transportation system, lack of vegetation proposed to balance the high density uses, and no transportation study.
MOTION FAILED – only 4 votes.
Mike Hall motioned to table for 60 days to give the applicant a chance to address the issues. Patrick de Maynadier 2nded. Motion to Table Passed.

2. 8:25 PM – Primary approval for a 9-lot commercial subdivision on 141.46 acres in Aurora Industrial Park on Randall Avenue- Phase II. Carol Morman presented for Monfort Supply Company (Rack)
Only one citizen (Kirk Busse) expressed concern for watershed to his property. He also wanted to be sure this was NOT residential.
Patrick de Maynadier motioned and Mike Hall 2nd to grant approval with a variance for cul de sac length, requiring all tech review concerns on #1 and #3 be accomplished, plus all the staff comments required. They included the understanding that this was to have Aurora sewers and NOT any alternative systems. Passed with Roger Woodfill voting NAY- he wanted the Road to have a connection to Cole Lane- the cul de sac was far too long in his opinion.

3. 9:00 PM Primary approval for 122- lot subdivision Washington Township on 132.882 acres– Stonebrook Subdivision for Ralph Meierjohan of Ameritek Homes, and Gabbard Estates, LLC. There were numerous staff report recommendations and tech review and transportation issues on this plan. Archie Crouch- The Survey Company- presented. He addressed some of the concerns. Of note was a good design plan for the divided streets at the front entrance showing two lanes out and one lane into the development.
Ralph Meierjohan stated that they had a contract with the DEARBORN COUNTY SEWER DISTRICT signed this morning. [NOTE: Though the sewer board at their last working meeting had a clear intent to accomplish this, it is a concern that working meetings of the Sewer District are being used to make major decisions of this type where few members of the public are likely to attend.]
Buffers that were shown were not enforceable, i.e. the owners of the lots could tear them down if they chose. Homes in the $180,000 range were to be stick built and sidewalks were planned. No restrictive covenants were set yet.
Public speakers: Dan Brooks, Jerry Benham, Kathy Holscher-Dobbs, and Ralph Thompson cited US 50 traffic concerns and access issues from the divided hwy as well as the entrance just below the rise in the road. The were concerned that the sewers were not “real” as the sewer district is more than two years from build out and the Aurora Sewers are involved in compliance issues with IDEM. The increased financial wealth of this subdivision is likely to affect the low-income grants that the sewer district is seeking to pay for itself. Tax increases and increased load on the school district were mentioned. This changes the tenor of the area- largely Ag and large lot homes now. Ecological issues and stormwater run-off as well as light pollution were brought up. It appeared to the citizens that they were paying for this development and not the developer himself, in terms of taxes, decreased quality of life, and school issues.
Patrick de Maynadier motioned and Roger Woodfill 2nded to table pending review of transportation issues #1, issue #3 required in section 242 of the code for INDOT approval to access US50, review of the newly submitted plat to check for compliance, geotech analysis, and a review of the sewer issues, and a 2nd entrance onto US 50. All Ayes to Table for 60 days.

4. 10:25 PM - Zone change from Ag to Residential for single family development of 101.208 acres in Kelso Township on Dog Ridge Road. Randy Maxwell of Maxwell Properties IV presented. He began with a quip that he was nervous about presenting, but then he saw how many people were here to support him… (Laughter) Approximately 40 citizens were present and 13 spoke in opposition to the plans.
Randy Maxwell gave a PowerPoint presentation of the plan in relation to the 5 criteria required by law to approve a zone change. The plan also had some variances for side lots and distances between homes that was of major concern to the staff and board. This plan contains 30% green space and a high-density subdivision enclosed. Though the lots are single family, the effect is similar to a condo development with only 10 ft between homes. Curbs, gutters, sidewalks are present as were amenities such as a playground and a pool and pool house. Maxwell stated that the density was necessary in order to pay for the amenities. [NOTE: The density is probably also necessary in order to pay for the property. When landowners put large price tags on their land, they are, in effect, inviting the highest density uses or commercial uses into that area. They are also precluding the land ever being sold to neighboring farmers.]
Public speakers: Kevin Hahn (sp?), Mark Hall, Jackie Kraus, Debbie Stenger, Gordon Kurtz, Karen Rudisell, Chris Schumacher, Dennis Wuestefeld, Jeanette Kraus, Steve Berman (sp?), Steve Eisele, Gerald Schneider, and Joe Seidel. Two other speakers declined, saying their issues had already been covered.
For 45 minutes the discussion from the public cited: Dog Ridge not being wide enough and the road base was poor- it won’t take heavy trucks. Water pressure is not very good now, and this will make it worse. Density issues- way out of character- max out there now is 1-3 acre lots.
Increased taxes because of the burden on the schools and roads. “We are supposed to give up our rural character so Mr. Maxwell can take…” This is not a Residential area, it is a rural area. We only have a small rural volunteer fire dept. If you let this development in, then can each neighbor do it? Is there enough sewer for everyone? Homes are too close together- fire safety issues. Figures don’t add up. How can we triple the population but only increase road stress by 9%? Maxwell tried to buy 80 more acres, so it won’t stop with just this. Many accidents at Schuman and SR1. Wanted to retire to the peaceful rural area and now see bulldozers and noise, and increased traffic coming at them. School track and crosscountry uses the road to train- dangerous to add all these cars. Cut the density. School has areas to swim and a sports complex, why build it in the subdivision? Where are these kids going to play with tiny lots? Long history of community traditions and a country setting here. This will light the fire that ruins that. We need to preserve the integrity of Ag land. We need orderly development of our community. Ecological issues. This special zoning will increase property values and taxes for us. Crime will go up, like in Bright. Small lots equal high turnover and transient people. Maxwell should use his resources and creativity to produce a plan that the community would like. Can’t we have 1-acre Ag lots? Storm water issues. Once this gets changed, the area will change forever. It’s just a matter of when.
Mitter answered several questions and explained some of the issues about preserving land by clustering and that the density figures were based on the entire plot, not just the developed sections. There was no attempt to mislead- that is standard practice.
Board discussed the issues. Roger Woodfill motioned and Patrick de Maynadier 2nd to give an UNFAVORABLE recommendation at this time to the commissioners because of the variances, density issues in contrast to the current character, property values. All Ayes for Unfavorable recommendation.
Patrick de Maynadier stated that this is the area of the county that the master plan committee discussed in regards to pace and place, and that this decision does not preclude something coming in the future. Roger Woodfill noted that there was noting this dense for miles from this area. It was out of place in this location.

Midnight: Administrative issues: PC calendar of meetings, Full page ad for master plan committee thank you (celebration of end of plan work), fee schedule for 2005, master plan copy costs $73 per plan. Can get it free on Internet and also $10 for a CD. Signs for the zone changes are going to have deposits from applicants, they will get it back when they are returned. $18/ sign.
Checking into a way to honor long time board members when they leave.

Meeting adjourned. 12:15 AM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Friday, October 22, 2004

A New Subdivision in the County?

There is a subdivision hearing Monday, October 25, 2004, at 7:00 P.M. at the Commissioner's Meeting Room in the Administration Building.

This is for the first part of the Gabbard estate on US 50. The initial phase is approximately 120 to be located on the northern part of the 123 acre tract with the southern part listed for future development.

The developer appears to be Ameritek Custom Homes, 4010 North Bend Rd. (Cheviot), Cincinnati, OH.

There is another 43 acre parcel, the Conaway estate, adjacent to the Gabbard estate on the east, which is sale pending to the same developer. The Realtor is Bret Fehrman, Fehrman Realty.

This is the development that Vera Benning and the Dearborn County Sewer District said was "its not about development" at the beginning of the sewer district.

This is the beginning of the development for the area. If you have an opinion be present at the hearing Monday night.

Ralph Thompson, PE

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

19 October 2004 Sewer Board- Working Meeting

19 October 2004 Sewer Board- Working Meeting
Members present: Mike Hankins, Chairman, Greg Vollmer, Patrick Holland, Brett Fehrman, Barry Pruss, and Rodney Dennerline.
Absent: Pat Hanlon.
Also present: Lisa Lehner, Att’y

1. Discussion centered on finalizing the legal agreement with Gabbard Corp.- the owner of the Gabbard Property which is being developed within the recently set up sewer district. The developer was there to answer questions. Discussion included possibilities of an escrow account or some mechanism to hold tap in fees for the lot owners in the subdivision being created. $500 was considered.

2. Dead end taps was basically tabled.

3. Lisa Lehner has Gabbard Estates on her priority list to finish the agreements.
She talked to Andy Schoef regarding the insurance issues- adding another entity will be about $100.
Lisa has been in touch with the Dept. of Commerce and after getting the runaround between offices found them hesitant to be pinned down on giving her feedback regarding her questions. Our new regional contact is Vicki Kellerman from Madison, formerly Connie Combs. Jerome McCloskey att’y for DOC told her that we could only charge material and labor for the low/moderate incomes on the tap in fees. $400 seems to be reasonable estimate.

4. Joe Tierney (GRW) informed Doug Baer that far market value for the costs of each home system is about $8,000. Costs might be able to be reduced depending on the pumps selected. GRW agreement is tabled because Joe Tierney is not present and Doug Baer is out of town also.

5. Rodney Dennerline brought up the idea of not sewering the last part of Mt. Tabor due to increased costs for few homes- spread out too far. Board seems to concur with this concept. Greg Vollmer stated that he’d toured the street and thought it didn’t make economic sense to sewer that area. They have large lots and if septic fails, then they have land to repair it.
Also the increased incomes there might affect the grant. Lisa Lehner mentioned Dr. Dobbs in particular.
Greg Vollmer noted that we have the right to provide sewers there, but that doesn’t mean we have to.

6. Monthly rates look like $73 now and we have to cut them to $50-55. Rodney Dennerline noted that the engineer from GRW gets paid depending on the project cost. It has ballooned to $4 million. We need to cut about $2 million out. The board plans to take a serious look at gravity fed possibilities and eliminating pumping and some lift stations. The also want to look at splitting the district to feed some to Dillsboro and some to Aurora.

7. Mr. Elliot promised to have appraisals by Oct 29th.
Collection of easements is past 50% mark now. Some property is being sold so easements have to be redone at $100 each. It was decided NOT to record easements until all are in.

8. Advisory Board is not meeting- trouble getting a quorum. They also are not meeting people in their homes any more. It was suggested that one of the property owners might want to take the load off Vera Benning on this. Lisa Lehner thinks it is critical to have this Advisory Board.

9. There was more discussion on pump brands and costs. Brett Fehrman suggested using a higher horsepower. They might use a brand which costs about a third less than the “cadillac” model.

10. Mike Hankins suggested that a clerk is necessary as minutes are way behind. Pat Holland suggested checking with IVY Tech to see if a student wants a part time job. He will check into that.

The next meeting is cancelled due to elections. They will also schedule a meeting with Joe Tierney to try to reduce costs of the district.

Meeting adjourned at 9 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Campaign Finance Reports- County Elections

Campaign Finance Reports – County Elections
Tabulated October 19, 2004
Reports were due on October 15, 2004

Missing reports – Richard Ullrich and Phil Weaver
Late report- Richard Fox - arrived via mail October 19- mail postmarked October 16th.

Candidates and contributors:
Commissioner candidates:
Richard Fox- filed late
The Survey Co $100
John Maxwell $250
Johnny Nugent $100
Ruth/Jerry Martini $100
DLZ Industrial, LLC $300
Richard Fox $2000
Richard Fox $3500
Ruth/Jerry Martini $100
Bill/Cathy Martini $100
Leroy/Violet Fox $100
Karen Fuchs $50
David Martini $100

Jeff Hughes- Home Fundraiser $206
Richard Uncerbuehler $100
John/Linda Maxwell $250
Joe Zwiergynski $300
David Hughes $200
James Hughes $100
Jeff Hughes $1031.28

Allen Callaway-
Gene Branham $100
Ray Beatty $100
Doug Hedrick $100
Fred/Clara Callaway $100
Pipefitters $500
Carpenters Local 1142$200
IBEW $300
Teamsters $200
Bldg Trades $300
Asbestos Workers $200
Democrat Party $500

Al Werner
Al Werner $2633.70

Council candidates:

Bill Ullrich
Unitemized $660.69

Ben Turner-
Democrat Party $500

Doug Taylor-
Doug Taylor $1600
Charles Evans $100
IN/KY Carpenters $200
Pipefitters $200
Asbestos LU $200
IBEW $200
Democrat Party $500

Charlie Fehrman-

Mark Mitter-
Unitemized $400
On hand $800

Richard Ullrich- NO REPORT FILED

Dennis Kraus
Clifford Bischoff $200
Dennis Kraus $676.79
John Maxwell $250
Dennis Kraus $672.26
Dennis Kraus $410
Unitemized $223.03

Gayle Pennington-

Robert Dunevant $100
Bill Yelton $100
Unitemized $50


Jim Humphrey
Cash on hand $1056.82

18 October 2004 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

18 October 2004 Commissioner Meeting Notes

Present: Dan Batta, Acting Chairman, Karen Shell (still having some voice problems), and Vera Benning. Also present: Lorie Howard, County Administrator, Lisa Lehner, Attorney, and Cary Pickens, Auditor.

1. Ruth Ann Batta- requested to go to Council for funding for the summer arts program. Approved to approach Council at their next meeting.

2. Lorie Howard- County Administrator- reported:
Bridge 68 work will begin in the spring of 2005- contracts have been approved.
Phase 2 paving with Rohe will proceed starting with Sand Run this week- weather permitting.
Line striping will also begin.
The L-bg –G-dale Connector proposed by SIECO/Strand has requested comments from the commissioners by Nov 22. There are 7 alternatives. Commissioners decided to send their comments as a board so they will have individual ones to Lorie by November 8th so she can prepare the final letter. These comments will be finalized at a public meeting. Travis Miller is also preparing comments from the planning office. Dan Batta noted that G-dale has already sent a letter to SIECO/ Stand and INDOT expressing concerns that this connector could possible have a negative effect on the US 50 corridor study.
Three transfers of funds were approved for flu vaccines, for additional Worker’s Comp premiums, and for PERF, as requested by Charlie Fehrman in a letter.
RQAW has some additional proposals for the jail and courthouse expansion projects, including leasing the building housing Grace Church ( Shumway building now owned by Fortune Management) and tearing down the juvenile building. These are just proposals so far.
The painting of the rotunda has contracts being set up for the companies doing the work to cover indemnification and safety issues.
Personnel Handbook revisions were approved by commissioners with Vera Benning abstaining because she wanted the employees to have input. [NOTE: Why do employees get to decide what the rules are? Usually the employer is the “boss.”] These rules will be effective Jan 1.

3. Mike Davis- Highway Dept.- White’s Hill has a change order from O’Mara that is within the approved budget for that roadwork. Commissioners approved $5300 to do survey and engineering to remove the hump in the road to view the hill better. Potential cost of that project is $50-60,000.
Highway employees are reviewing policies, procedures, and subdivisions and their bonds for road acceptances.
Mowing is done for the year, ditching, culverts, and patching continues.
Lisa Lehner is still handling fuel tank issue in an attempt to reduce fines.
Bridge 37 is the next bridge needing work (not clear where this bridge is!)
Several developers are approaching highway to get their subdivision roads accepted into the county road list.
11 of the over 60 major slips in the county are fixed so far.
Davis will be attending a safety meeting coming up shortly.
Ron Draper and Mike Booher approached commissioners under the highway dept. to get them to upgrade and accept Cedar Lane in High Ridge estates for a county road. All paperwork so far indicates that it was not a county road- per Kreinhop’s engineering reports from the 1980’s. Ron Draper is the son of the developer who went bankrupt and didn’t finish this subdivision. The road bonds were allowed to lapse. Draper even noted that his father hadn’t finished the roads- he ran out of money.
Booher stated that a highway worker offered to dump some free gravel on it for them… then said- I guess I should say that here…
[Note- this is the subdivision that was to be condemned due to sewer plant failures and the reason for the sewer district to be started in that section of the county. Just how much is the public going to have to absorb of this developer’s responsibility?]

Commissioners took this under advisement and told the petitioners that they needed to come up with proof that it was a county accepted road – or else they would have to bring it to county specs and then petition for acceptance.

4. Lisa Lehner- still works on the Hwy. Fuel storage tanks with IDEM. She is requesting proof from them.

5. Cary Pickens- Auditor- claims, minutes, and executive session minutes approved.

6. Executive session report- There was an executive session this afternoon on hwy dept. issues that the board of commissioners is in the middle of and planning future review.

7. Public comment: Ralph Thompson requested more info on the executive session proceedings and possible decisions. He cited 3-2003 from County Council stating that spending elected officials who spend dollars without an appropriation will be held personally liable.
He wanted to know what was going on in the hwy dept. He said there were rumors of public money being misspent for personal use.
Karen Shell stated that Mike Davis has a copy of the expenditures- that Ralph can get.
Cary Pickens stated that the overspending was a result of changing people mid-year in the hwy dept. and so no one knew what money was left. [Note: That’s why council makes all those special projects come back to them.]
Karen Shell
said in this case a specific line item was the problem- not the 203 fund, which are special projects. This was a $50,000 line item in phase 2 work that was overdrawn.
Dan Batta said they are trying to keep the staff focused on the budget. Intimidation by elected officials can’t seem to be stopped, because it is not REAL, but PERCEIVED intimidation. [Note: Hwy workers who worry about having their jobs taken away when new commissioners come in are not likely to PUBLICLY state their grievances, particularly when they concern Vera Benning, a commissioner who is not up for election this year and who is able to affect their jobs next year. Most of them can’t afford an attorney to help them in a wrongful dismissal suit. ]
Vera Benning
said that we don’t have a hwy engineer. If we had one it would go a long way toward helping our hwy supervisor. [Note: Scattergun technique? This wasn’t even relevant to the issue.]
Ralph Thompson left the podium without getting a satisfactory answer.

Meeting adjourned at 8:40 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Friday, October 15, 2004

Chamber of Commerce Meet the Candidates Night - October 14, 2004

State Candidates:
Bob Bischoff -D – State rep Dist-68
Robert Hoffman- R – State rep Dist-55
John Marcum – L – State rep Dist-55

County Commissioners:
Allen (Mooch) Calloway – D- Commissioner D-1
Jeff Hughes – R – Commissioner D-1
Rick Fox – R – Commissioner D-2
Al Werner – D – Commissioner D-2

County Council-at-large (3 positions)
Charlie Fehrman – R – Council- at-large
Mark Mitter – R- Council- at-large
Doug Taylor – D- Council- at-large
Ben Turner – D - Council- at-large
Bill Ullrich – R - Council- at-large
Richard Ullrich- D- Council- at-large

Wesley Holt- R

Leo Clippenger - Campaign Mgr. for Baron Hill- D – US rep – Dist 9 (800.892.3232)

The candidates had a brief statement read by the Moderator listing their qualifications and background. They were then asked prepared questions, with a short rebuttal by their opponent.

The candidates had several recurring themes. The Candidates kept talking about the US 50 problems. Most deplored the problem; but, did not not know how to attack the problem much less solve it. Doug Taylor heavily backed the US 50 bypass. All felt something needed to be done. Mr. Clippenger indicated Baron Hill was trying to work with INDOT to obtain more funding to study the problem.

Several candidates talked about the County master plan, felt is was good, " a living document". They also talked about the "upside down" tax structure, where Dearborn County's tax base is largely residential. Most want industry brought into the County; but, did not have a plan to accomplish it. Mr. Clippenger indicated Baron Hill was working to attract bio-tech life science industry to the County.

The negative impact of residential development was discussed by the candidates. The potential loss of gambling revenue was mentioned and the concern for the potential loss of revenue. Several of the candidates Council indicated the negative budget impact of the loss of gaming revenue would be disastrous for the County. Bob Bischoff indicated he would be trying to prevent the State Legislature from siphoning off gaming funds from the local to help pay the State budget deficit.

Messers. Fox and Hughes referred several times to "property owners rights" and the need to protect them. None has defined what they mean by property owners rights. Do they mean freedom to sell property for any use in spite of zoning restrictions, or freedom from eminent domain or?

Many of the candidates are neophytes (except for the incumbent County Council candidates) and most seem to have a superficial knowledge of the working of government, economics and management.

The program did not provide a good basis to make candidate selection easy. More information is needed on the background and goals of the candidates. The local press should do more in depth reporting on the candidates to help the voter make the right choice.

Ralph Thompson, Jr., PE, CPE
Citizen of Dearborn County

14 October 2004 Candidates Night at Tate St. Adult Center broadcast on WSCH

14 October 2004 Candidates Night

Candidates who showed up:
Bob Bischoff -D – State rep Dist-68
Robert Hoffman- R – State rep Dist-55
John Marcum – L – State rep Dist-55
Campaign Mgr for Baron Hill- D – US rep – Dist 9

County government candidates who showed up:
Allen (Mooch) Calloway – D- Commissioner D-1
Jeff Hughes – R – Commissioner D-1
Rick Fox – R – Commissioner D-2
Al Werner – D – Commissioner D-2

Council-at-large (3 spots)
Charlie Fehrman – R – Council- at-large
Mark Mitter – R- Council- at-large
Doug Taylor – D- Council- at-large
Ben Turner – D - Council- at-large
Bill Ullrich – R - Council- at-large
Richard Ullrich- D- Council- at-large

Wesley Holt- R

Questions prepared by the chamber of commerce touched on gas tax issues, road maintenance costs, economic development, the county master plan, how to cope with possible gambling revenue loss, US 50 congestion, increased costs of courts and jail expansion, adding another judge, sewer districts, the economics of being a bedroom community of the Greater Cincinnati area, tax structure in Indiana, tax assessment loans for delayed tax collection problems, and small business development.

Baron Hill’s campaign manager touted Hill’s support in getting money to study the US 50 corridor. He also mentioned that Hill is trying to attract “life science and biotech jobs” to Indiana. [Note: Economic development in that arena could be an excellent addition to our county and the tri-state region.]

Striking, because it was so prevalent, was an apparent lack of knowledge about the internal workings of county government and availability of funds from the non-incumbent candidates. There will be a larger learning curve next year because of the predominance of new officials, particularly in the commissioner’s races.
[Note: Choosing candidates in this race will require in depth understanding of their particular background qualifications for the job. They need to have the time and the intelligence to learn the job. Of equal importance is their temperament in being able to handle tough decisions and also the internal political infighting within the governmental offices.]
Council candidates fared better because there were three incumbents, with some experience in the issues being discussed. Of the challengers there seemed to be a fair amount of knowledge about issues related to their jobs and their particular cities (Aurora and Lawrenceburg), but they will have some adjustments to make when they see the county version of those issues.
It should be noted that there are 7 members of Council. The four that are on for two more years are district members. ( Bo Lansing- Greendale, Dennis Kraus (St. Leon area), Tom Cheek (Aurora), Aaron Negangard (Bright).
The three at large seats currently are held by Charlie Fehrman- Dillsboro, Bill Ullrich- Aurora, and Mark Mitter- Yorkville.
Running also are: Ben Turner- Aurora, Richard Ullrich- Aurora, and Doug Taylor – Lawrenceburg.
[Note: County Council needs to have a fair understanding of the needs of the entire county. It would be wise to balance the council with members all over the county and not be too heavily represented by the cities and towns.]

Register Publications covered this meeting also. Watch the paper for in depth coverage on each candidate in the coming weeks.

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Monday, October 04, 2004

4 October 2004 Dearborn County Commissioners Meeting Notes

4 October 2004 County Commissioners Meeting Notes

Present: Dan Batta, acting president, (Karen Shell had laryngitis), Karen Shell, and Vera Benning. Also present: Cary Pickens, Auditor, Lisa Lehner, Attorney, and Lorie Howard, Administrator.

Denise Freitag was present, covering for Register Publications.

1. Bill Ewbank- Veteran’s Officer- reported that the driving situation is easing up somewhat and that he’ll be on vacation Oct 14-20 so the Office will be closed.

2. Bill Black- Emergency Management- reposted on a meeting with the cities and towns and county on the 800 mgHz system on Oct 12 at 5 PM in the new Lawrenceburg Firehouse. Dan Batta praised Bill for keeping us regionally involved in the homeland security and EMA processes. Commissioners signed off on a grant application requiring no match from Homeland Security for $34,483 to do automated fingerprinting. Bill also reminded the commissioners that they needed to settle the fuel pump tax issues so as not to jeopardize any of the Homeland security grants.

3. Dearborn Gravel – Kurt Weismiller (represented also by Terry Crouch, surveyor)- request for vacating several streets was approved after a favorable recommendation from the Plan Commission. Lisa Lehner quoted IC 36-7-3-12 on street vacations as part of this approval process. There was no public opposition. Streets were left open that access the Oxbow and an easement was confirmed to allow access to a cell tower on the land.

4. Charlie Ashley- 911- got approval to fill a vacated seat on the board with Matt McKinley.

5. Ruth Ann Batta- withdrew request to go to Council

6. Travis Miller- Plan Director - Comprehensive Plan presentation was given again in abbreviated form for those not present in September. He included a detailed reading of the 12 guiding principles.
Vera Benning stated that she had talked to Travis at length and he and suggested that she make an appointment to meet with the plan commission members and people on the Advisory Board with her concerns.
Dan Batta spoke at length regarding the expressed concerns in the article in the local paper regarding the lack of commercial and industrial development coverage in the plan. He then went on to cite in detail where the plan document covers those issues. He stated that 3 out of 12 guiding principles were specific to economic development issues on page 136-137. He stated that #3,4,and 12 also allude to it indirectly.
Batta went on to state that on page 26 there was considerable discussion of the brain drain issues. He stated that on pages 32-37 there were continual references to the economy and commuting patterns, tax bases, and employment segments as well as the community profile and statements on page 37 that one of the key issues was that we have a disproportionately high amount of residential tax issues. It also references the Riverboat revenue and states a desire to broaden the tax base beyond dependence on the boat.
Batta noted that the principles are the directions that were given as to how to move forward. He said that it was fair to criticize it as being a very general document with somewhat subjective guidelines. [NOTE: This is a plus in the long run, because it allows for increased flexibility as development progresses. Also the guidelines are supposed to be subjective- it’s a document about the unique needs of our county.]
He stated that he couldn’t emphasize enough that you need to read the document or else you will be mislead by some of the statements made about it. He noted that he wasn’t at most of those meetings but that he thought it was an excellent process. He stated that we do need some specific maps AND a thoroughfare plan that MATCHES those maps.
When asked if the public wanted to comment- no one did. There were 18 members of the advisory board and other interested citizens there for this vote.
Lisa Lehner read the state law on the resolution needed to approve this plan. Karen Shell whispered (due to her laryngitis) that "it was a great living document and a great place to start." She motioned to approve the plan. Vera Benning would not second it, so Dan Batta seconded the motion. Motion to approve the master plan passed with Vera Benning voting Nay. (She gave no reasons for her Nay vote)

Travis Miller also presented the commissioners with a formal resignation for Dave Schmidtgoesling form the Plan Commission and BZA. The law states that of the 5 citizen members no more than three can be of any one party. Currently there is one democrat, one independent, and two republicans. The new member can be of either party or an independent. Commissioners took the request under advisement.

7. Mike Davis- Highway Director – introduced John Rockwalter (sp?) and Andrew Scherer of United Consulting who did the small structures inventory. (4-8ft “bridges and culverts). They reported 298 small structures with a map and prioritized list of the scheduled repair, rehab, and replacement recommendations from 2004-2012 at an estimated cost of $4.2 million. 22 need to be replaced in the next 8 years.
wanted to be sure it stays as a living document and gets updated. It can also be digitally layered with the transportation study for the planning office.

Phase 2 paving items had an amendment added. Rohe is also contracting to do the inspection of the roadways. [Note: This seems to be a conflict!]
The paving bid for $739,498.35 was awarded to Rohe. Vera Benning voted Nay- no reason given.

A second motion was made and passed to allow Lori Howard to sign off on the inspection agreement after Lisa Lehner has reviewed it. There is some language in it that is contradictory.
Line striping for $70,971.84 was approved subject to Lorie signing off on it.
The work on Bridge 68 on Main Street in Guilford will proceed (motion passed) after Lorie signs off on it after Lisa Lehner reviews the contracts. Schneider estimated it would cost $250,000 and the bid amount for the contractor came in at $219,500.
There was discussion on the financial issues of riverboat revenue being moved to other accounts, and the overspending that apparently went on in local road and street dollars. [NOTE: There has been some issue with money being spent unevenly in the districts with district 3 proceeding to spend road dollars without the other district commissioner’s approval.]
Bottom line- the request was to use $124,550 to pay the bills to date and $193,942 to cover the expenditures to the end of the year in the bituminous account. This includes $21,000 for crack sealing. Mike Davis is to send letters to Charlie Fehrman to get this approved by Council. Batta specifically stated that it might have to wait until November when Council meets.
Salt and gravel are apparently ordered for the winter.
Mark Seiler updated the commissioners on the $5000 IDEM fine for the oil storage tank issue. Lisa Lehner will try to negotiate this down

8. Lorie Howard – Administrator-
$73,500 was approved for the 3-year contract with Harrison for EMS services
in the northeast part of county. Lorie tried to get other entities to bid- but only Harrison had the capabilities.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and Safe Passage had a presentation at noon outside the courthouse.
October 18th the Employee handbook will be presented for approval.
Lisa Lehner is changing the letters to Siemens as we now have the software and laptop to control the courthouse HVAC internally. Training is being sought so that several employees can do this.
Lorie gave an overview of the tax collection meeting. (See Council meeting notes for the end of September for details) Cary Pickens will NOT be closing his office for lunch regarding the possible suggestion that this might speed up the tax process.
There was an addendum to the health agreement that will allow access to the Healthspan PPO.

9. Lisa Lehner- Attorney- covered her issues in the above presentations.

10. Cary Pickens- Auditor – claims and minutes approved. Lisa Lehner asked for the Sept 20th minutes to be held till she could review them.

11. Karen Shell brought up the issues of using cum courthouse funds for unapproved items like uniforms. SBOA wrote them up on this. Pickens stated that they were using an opinion letter that Jim Humphrey wrote when he was county attorney to get around some of this. Karen Shell noted that this letter was no longer “working” that it was too general and that SBOA wants it addressed.

12. Vera Benning reported as Advisory Chairman to the Sewer District that the interlocal agreement on the loan was signed with Council and that GRW needs to look at the infrastructure at the High Ridge Plant to see if resleeving the lines is an option.

13. Dan Batta announced that they had a 1 PM executive session this afternoon followed by a public meeting on highway employee issues. These will be further discussed at the next commissioners meeting.

14. Public Comment- Ralph Thompson asked Cary Pickens if they were going to close at lunch- (it was unclear earlier) The answer was no.
He told Vera that he would be open to meeting with her if she wanted to discuss the Master plan issues.
He asked also what the problem was with the highway budget. Vera said it was a mismanagement problem. He stated that in the private sector that would get you fired. Vera smiled and said- yes it would.
Dan Batta stated that some of this would be aired in their executive session.

Meeting adjourned at 11:50 AM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township