Wednesday, March 02, 2005

1 March 2005 County Commissioners Meeting Notes

1 March 2005 County Commissioners Meeting Notes

Present: Vera Benning, President, and Rick Fox.
Absent: Jeff Hughes (on vacation)
Also Present: Cary Pickens, Auditor, Bryan Messmore, County Adm., and Bob Ewbank, Attorney.

The agenda for this meeting includes a statement: “During the Public Hearing, public comments are welcomed.”

1. Advanced Medical- Diane Anderson was presented by Sheriff Dave Lusby and Karen Stokes. The contract for services was tabled from the Feb 15 meeting. Ewbank stated that he’d looked over the contract with Lusby and recommended it as a good idea.
Fox motioned and Benning 2nd to approve the contract for medical services for the jail pending Council’s approval of additional appropriations.

2. Bill Ewbank- Veteran’s Officer- requested the Commissioner’s agree to cover the insurance for the Catch-a-Ride van that was being donated to them. The Veteran’s Office will cover the tow and repair costs. It will be used sparingly, whenever wheelchair access is needed.
Fox motioned and Benning 2nd to accept the donation and add it to the fleet of county cars being insured.

3. Bill Black EMA- declared March 6-12 Severe Weather Awareness Week.
Fox motioned and Benning 2nd to officially proclaim Severe Awareness Week.
Certification classes are continuing with grants to cover the costs. Black gave commissioners disk copies of the EMA plan for the county, which needs to be approved by April. He notified commissioners that the FEMA money is coming to help cover snow and flood damages. He also advised them that March 10 at the L-bg Firehouse they are invited to a meeting on the 800 MgHz system for communications.

4. Mike Davis- Highway Dept.- reported that the George Street Bridge grant money ($277,000) has been granted and coupled with the cum bridge fund will be able to begin work on the bridge. He wants to hire James Barker, PE from Bloomington too supervise this. It won’t be finished till 2007. Ewbank to review the contract for next meeting.
Davis informed commissioners that the state is looking to fix a slip on SR46 and realign the entrance of Chappelow Ridge to the hwy there. Commissioners will have to sign off on the redesign of that access point after review.
FEMA will be in town to look at road slips. He’s hoping to get money for these as flood damage.
Whites Hill- St Leon and O’Mara have agreed to install the line- they will be back on track soon.
Piper’s Landing- 325’ of road accepted into the system, but forgot to sign off on it 10 years ago… [NOTE: Piper’s Landing is not 10 years old even- this time frame is off. It was 2000.]
Fox motioned and Benning 2nd to sign the road inventory papers for Piper Lane.

5. Public Hearing 2 Zone Changes. There were approximately 50 people in attendance.
Vera Benning stated that she wanted all the people to get a chance to be heard and wanted them to hold it to 3 minutes each.
Maxwell Development- [Note: this is the one on Chappelow Ridge and Barber Road]
Travis Miller presented an overview of the development and the five criteria that the commissioners have to consider in granting a zone change. The public hearing at the PC occurred on Jan 24 and was certified Feb 2. PC voted unanimously for a favorable recommendation. Density is moderate at an average .68 units /acre, though it looks denser because they are clustered at the top of the hill. Slopes with over 20% grade are to be avoided. The road is on such a slope, but the houses are not. The property utilizes Chappelow Ridge and Barber Rd to access SR46. Site is .75 mi from SR46, 1.25 mi from SR52 and, 2mi from I-74. It is not yet served by St. Leon sewer, but has a written commitment for sewer. They have also committed to connect Chappelow Ridge to Barber Rd. Roadway design and geotech analysis will be done in stages and paid for by the developer. [NOTE: County needs to think about this- and the county should be selecting the engineer and geotech analysis and then charge the developer. Otherwise there is a conflict of interest in that the engineering firm has to “please” the developer who hires them in order to get further jobs from them.]
Benning went through each utility letter. Travis Miller showed slides of existing zoning, existing land uses, slopes on the site, and areas of greater than 20% slope. [NOTE: The commissioners did not have a copy of the minutes from the Plan Commission meeting- so how could they know what testimony was behind the PC recommendation?]
Public Comment:
Dorothy White showed the commissioners on one slide the polluted sewage from Whites’ Hill that was dumped along the riverside and covered with bricks. She then presented 300 petitions against the development.
Daniel Sexton
, Chappelow Ridge adjoining property owner, stated that he’d looked for property on a dead end street in and Agricultural zone for his horses and gardens. He wants the road to stay dead end to avoid thru traffic issues. Estimates that 800 cars per day will pass his house and now there are none. He sees no recreational area in the property. Chappelow Ridge is 13.5-14 ft wide and not designed for traffic. Schools are overcrowded, Fire Dept. Is volunteer and in Ohio. “We’re not going down without a fight.” This wrecks our rural lifestyle. More traffic, more noise, more taxes. Increased property value is only good IF you want to sell and move. Don’t connect this to Chappelow Ridge, please redesign it to take the residents into consideration.
Tom Holtgrieve- Daughter’s classroom at EC is a trailer! The average person in my area owns 33 acres with only 4 houses built near me in the last several years. Come out Sat. and I’ll saddle up horses and we can ride all over this land. You need to see that the slope is too steep for a road.
Helen Kremer – We also have Eric Russo here to present for us. (from Hillside Trust) We have a barn, house built in 1848, and granary on Barber Rd. We request you deny this zone change. It is not in compliance with the comprehensive plan, which states that moderate, and steep slopes are to be avoided. It will not retain the rural character. Developers should respect the county topography, environmental issues, and historical significance. Comp plan says to restrict development on steep slopes, flood plains, and any site that would adversely affect surrounding uses. Calculating the number of homes (124-136) plus the existing 45 in the area would produce 1810 more trips per day on Barber Rd. Barber Rd access to SR46 is tricky sight-wise. Does not want to lose the 100-yr old granary by eminent domain to widen Barber Rd for this development. Kremer brought up issues with farm equipment on the road. The developer was not required to do a traffic study. From the Hwy Dept. letter: This is an environmental wetland parallel to the road. The tech review has concerns over soil types and slippage. There are stormwater concerns when the vegetation is removed. Stable soils do not occur until 9-10 ft of depth, and the majority of the road will be constructed on fill. “Realtors commonly know that anything which increases traffic on a road decreases property value.”
Building this road is not responsible and will be expensive to the taxpayers to repair and maintain. 1200ft is the max for a cul de sac and this one is 3200 ft.
“Creative design is what developers call it when they go to areas where topography is unforgiving.”
Can any developer ignore steep slope requirements?
Kathy Scott – I am a transplant from the city and marvel at all the wildlife here. The comp plan is here to protect it. We are in danger of going astray into commercialism. You and I (referring to the commissioners) are equal participants in the governing of the county. Scott’s talk repeatedly referenced by page number and section parts of the master plan and the zoning ordinances. She also showed several pictures of the site issues blown up for the meeting. Comments included references to keeping as much forested terrain as possible, but knowing that maneuvering large equipment to build roads and sites would surely remove a lot of it. There are functioning wells 56 ft deep at the base of this development. Gas and electric letters were non-committal, as was St. Leon. Speculation was that installing pipelines on unstable hillsides would be a problem. Subdivisions do not strengthen the economic base. They will change our county. These people will spend their dollars in Harrison and Cincinnati, because of their location. Residential zones allow an ultimate 4 units/acre, if the developer so chooses. Stormwater and existing flooding patterns on Barber Rd. will get worse. A HOA is not the best way to maintain these detention ponds etc. Residents below do not feel protected. There are 168 washed out roads in this county. First rule should be in effect- DO NO HARM. In summary: What is Dearborn County giving this developer without regard to the ordinances and comp plan? We are giving him a blank check. The maintenance, road slips, etc. will all be taxpayer costs. The governing body should maintain integrity and influence by our conduct and the direction this county takes. She then showed three scenes of the area that looked like pictures from a nature preserve.
Eric Russo – Executive Director of the Hillside Trust. Benning stated that she’d already heard his presentation and limited him to three minutes, so that “we can hear the citizens of this community.” [NOTE: Rick Fox had not heard this presentation though. He made no comment at this time.]
[Note: this was apparently the expert that the neighbors brought in to help state their case. Had he been an attorney, would he have been restricted? If the commissioners want facts and not emotion, this would have been the time to get them.]
gave 5 examples of fiscal impacts of hillside development and ended with the one from IVY Tech costing $1milliom in 2003 to fix a hillside even though the original design had geotech input. He then passed out his paper detailing the rest of his presentation.
Rick Fox – questioned Maxwell- stating that the road was the backbone of this project.
John Maxwell- The county uses Schneider Engineering and we’ve agreed to reimburse the county for fees to be sure the engineering is here. Will the trees be intact? We have to cut down 10 ft or so to bedrock. The trees will be intact above the road cut.
I met with Mark Seiler after he did this letter (referring to the letter questioning the stability of that road site). We agreed to widen Barber to 20 ft. Got Mark to correct the statement about poor pavement, the pavement is in good condition. We will be coming out beyond the flood prone area of Barber Road. I thought it would be a great idea to do Chappelow Ridge connection to get alternate access. The barn does not have to be taken sown. I don’t want to have anything to do with eminent domain! The barn is nice- beautiful- keep it. I agree that 2000 ft. of Chappelow Ridge needs widening. The hill grade is 30-35% but the road will be at an angle to this that is 10% max. I still have no letter from Seiler correcting these statements. (He said this several times). As to the homes having to be built on piers- we are building on the top of the hill- no piers needed. It makes no sense for the highway dept. to put something like this on paper. He said Seiler apologized for his behavior at the tech review and said he would do another letter- no letter still. [NOTE: If Mark Seiler issues another letter- then the PC hearing was based on something different. It is legal to have testimony change at this point? Is it advisable? Does the county need to hire a PE to review these cases?]
Maxwell took exception to the statement about the sewer dump as if it were his. He did nothing of the sort. Gas is not necessary- but they are getting 2 bids. Amenities include 2 small parks and walking trails. He rejects Kathy Scott’s statements saying some comments were a stretch and highly inappropriate. Some were correct.
“Should we lose tonight we’ll have to evaluate how we stand with her.” [NOTE: It is not appropriate to attempt to intimidate a citizen who offers an opinion at a meeting, unless slander or libel is intended.]
We are going to comply with all the rules for stormwater and soil conservation. We do 50 construction projects a year and we comply with all of this.
Bill Werner – I apologize for some of the name-calling that occurred at last night’s meeting- it was not appropriate. If all potential farms slated for development in the St. Leon area occur- we will get about 800 homes. How can the schools ..?
Vera Benning- If a person wants to sell should they be able to?
Bill Werner – Yes – but… you didn’t let me finish.
Benning – I took the oath of office seriously, if someone wants to sell… repeats herself.
Bill Werner – I’m talking about responsible development.
Vera Benning cut the public discussion off at this point. Three hands were still raised to speak. Fox motioned to end public discussion and Benning 2nd. Immediately Fox motioned to approve the zone change and Benning 2nd. Passed. The crowd protested throughout all of this that they weren’t finished. Please stop. Wait etc… Benning asked the police to get people out in an orderly manner. Two policemen stood at the front of the room.
After the people left, Ewbank informed the commissioners that they needed to consider the 5 criteria for a zone change. Fox and Benning amended their motion to include those criteria. THEY DID NOT DISCUSS THEM AT ANY POINT, just stated that they wanted them included in the motion. Ewbank said he’d fix the motion up when he typed it out officially. He also stated that bonds would be required when the subdivision is granted so they should be protected on that road construction.

Rohe Development (this is the one on Mt. Pleasant for condos).
Travis Miller presented the details again and pictures. These 103 condominiums require a zone change from A-R. Since condos are a conditional use it will have to go to the BZA for final consideration. Nicole Daily of Bayer Becker protested that they were told this was the final stop. Miller apologized and informed her that they were in error and that state law was researched and it required BZA approval.
This is an R-DP as well- so approval is tied to the development plan presented.
Public Comment:
Kathy Wolf- Last night someone said there were about 2000 unbuilt lots in HVL- how many are in Dearborn County? [NOTE: This is an error- my personal research from 2.5 years ago showed 1785 lots left in HVL with about 25% being double lots. There were nearly 2200 unbuilt lots in the entire county in Oct 2002]
She discussed road width issues, school crowding, and taxes. She suggested that the PC, Commissioners, schools etc, work together to get an overall record of building lots approved vs. development potential, to gauge the effect on public services. [NOTE: This would also be helpful to assess supply and demand, as it would prevent overloading supply and driving prices down leading to decreased home values etc.]
Nicole Daily- Bayer and Becker
- discussed how the condos meet the 5 criteria for a zone change. She said they were trying top create a rural aspect with the project. [NOTE: Multifamily is rural???] The traffic study indicated no road improvement needed, though they will do proper ingress and egress. They are marketing to younger couples with 2-3 bedrooms. They are only going to improve Mt. Pleasant along their own frontage. [NOTE: No one seems to be questioning this- while the previous developer is widening the main road to the next access point.]
Diana Hubbard-
adj. Landowner concerned about the number of people in the area, as they have farm animals. Farms are attractive to kids, hunters, and quadrunners. This is high density- the first condo in our entire area. She wonders if there can be fencing between them and the farm.
Jackie Kraus – If Mom and Pop want to sell the farm they have aright to dream but not a right to presume that it will be Disneyland, a subdivision, etc. We should have gone to the comp plan. We trusted our officials. She referenced feeling like saying Heil Hitler. That people weren’t heard. [Note: This was all said in a polite, quiet, respectful manner.]
Rick Fox
- We are listening- this is close to my heart I have hunted all over these old farms. I wish we could save things by having development rights to pay these old farmers. “I can’t sit and zone away what they worked all their lives for.”
I put a lot of thought into what people have put all their lives into. [NOTE: What about the people next door? Do they have any rights?]
Bob Ewbank-
questioned her use of Heil Hitler. You had due process. In my family people died for that. People have the right to speak and the commissioners have a right to LIMIT the hearing. [NOTE: This made no sense- to speak of rights to speak and then refusing the last people that right in the 1st hearing. The factual presentation was shut down as well. This is not the first person to liken our commissioner’s behavior to a dictator.]
Fox motioned and Benning 2nd to approve the zone change based on the 5 criteria. They did not discuss those criteria.

Travis Miller updated the commissioners on meetings for US50 and OKI and also asked for a letter in support of the US50 Corridor study. Messmore had already typed the letter, and the commissioners signed it.

EMS contract signed for St. Leon.
Hospital Trustees needed Ron Denny approved as Vice-Chairman and Robert Hoffmeier as Chairman. Approved.
They signed the letter supporting VRUC permit application
Barnes and Thornburgh contract for lobbyist services was approved pending Council approval of funds. Ewbank reviewed it first. [NOTE: This is the third lobbyist we have now]
Ewbank reviewed his services for the month and gave kudos to Bryan for leading the effort to get the White’s Hill issues resolved. He also included the Hwy Director.
Commissioners signed a letter of understanding with Ewbank for his services, based on prior fees appropriated.

Benning brought up a draft copy of an ordinance they wanted to do in 2001 concerning conduct of meetings. Ewbank will review it.
Ewbank will speak to Pickens to see what they can do to make the process of going through gov’t easier. They also want to be sure older citizens don’t lose their property to tax sales. [NOTE: This is an unusual statement for a group bent on shutting down public comment.]
Meeting adjourned 9:40 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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