Wednesday, April 20, 2005

19 April 2005 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

19 April 2005 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

Present: Benning, President, Fox and Hughes.
Also Present: Pickens, Auditor, Messmore, Administrator, and Ewbank, Attorney.
This meeting was videotaped for Benning, as usual.
One officer from the sheriff’s department was present. [NOTE: Commissioners seem to think they need police protection at meetings when they hold a public hearing. Police presence out in the community might be a better use of their time and taxpayer dollars.]

1. Benning announced that the Trackville Road zone change hearing was tabled again and reset for May 17th.

2. Public hearing for the Dog Ridge Rd.- Maxwell Properties zone change R-DP on 101.28 acres in Sect 15 of Kelso Township.
Travis Miller presented the case with a summary of the plan commission hearing and noted that this was given a Favorable recommendation with 5 ayes and 3 nay votes. There are written commitments for the sewer to be provided by St. Leon and the intersection improvements to be made at SR1 and SR46. Miller also presented the petitions that were turned in at the Plan Commission hearing for the commissioners.

Benning limited the attorney- Joe Calder (sp?- the sound system was really scratchy)- to three minutes just like the citizens, even though he was to be the spokesperson for most of them. Several citizens protested this vehemently. [NOTE: When the citizens try to condense their presentation and also invest a few thousand dollars in attorney fees, it seems unreasonable and shortsighted to limit the attorney to 3 minutes.]
In his comments at the beginning of the meeting, he discussed four main points:
1. This development dramatically changes the balance of development in the area. There are currently 125 homes in the surrounding 8,000 acres. This development puts 198 on 101 acres. [NOTE: If this density is to save land by consolidating homes in one area, as the developer noted in his application, then the argument could be made that the 325 homes in 8,101 acres is a good thing for farmland preservation. As often occurs, however, that save-the-land argument that applicant’s use to get the first development in causes a domino effect. Then the next one notes that this one is here and he should be able to build one just as dense next to it, etc.]
2. This development eats up all the available predicted capacity thru the year 2020 according to master plan calculations.
3. The LOS classifications in the traffic study are misleading. They need a Category 2 road to absorb this traffic. In fact the LOS during peak traffic times around the school is D-F, when the master plan states a level C is to be the standard.
4. The tax rate as published in the paper for Kelso shows a 25% increase from 1.6674 to 2.0574. This development and its impact on schools and services will only increase that further in the long run.
He then urged the commissioners to send it back to the Plan Commission for a more reasonable density.

The issues discussed by citizens included: safety with an already overloaded volunteer fire, and emergency dept. which is covered by out of township personnel, taxes which jumped 25% with reassessment, road shoulders being non-existent, so walking and school children will be at risk with traffic, density out of character to the area, average daily traffic volumes do not address peak traffic issues, people buying into Ag to be able to enjoy peace and quiet and low crime, not high density subdivisions, farms provide food and alternative fuel sources- why destroy them, decisions are already made- only listening to be polite- not really hearing our concerns, farmers in the area were not given a chance to buy this land to keep the community agricultural, road maintenance provided by farmers in winter, construction effects on water, drainage, and erosion in area surrounding the development, balancing rights of the citizens with the developers. It was also mentioned that we live in a world of options- night/day, love/hate, and country life/city life. [NOTE: This comment strikes to the heart of the development issue in this part of the county. Can Dearborn County provide a variety of lifestyles in different communities or are we going to let economics drive development to the cheapest and easiest lands to develop?]

John Maxwell answered several points on how he would catch the drainage and control erosion. He stated that he would try to eliminate some of the drainage issues that currently exist, but made no promises. He stated that they did not come in high and then change it to half that in their second application on the property on purpose as alleged by the attorney as a common ploy of developers. He also stated that when he studied the master plan and looked at the area two things defined the character for him- the sewer lines and East Central HS. [NOTE: How do underground sewer lines define character?]
Fox told Travis Miller that the comp plan goal was to save ground, that they were to try to make development more like a planned community, and that spreading out homes uses more land.
Public hearing was closed at 7:30 PM and Fox motioned and Hughes 2nd to approve the zone change. All ayes. It was unclear on the change being R or R-DP. They referenced the 5 points to consider in a zone change, but they did not address how they thought each of them was accomplished.

3. Cliff Eibeck- asked the commissioners to fix the sound system and also to use the microphones and not mumble. Dale Wendelman stated that he’d worked on the system, but without any schematics he couldn’t fix it all. [NOTE: Perhaps they need a 2nd opinion?]

4. Kathy Scott- presented several questions on planning ordinance changes-
1. Can we expect that people will be closed out of public hearings, like the first one this year? She noted that tonight’s was better.
2. Why is it so important to quickly approve a zone change if you have 90 days to think about it? Travis Miller explained that they PC had to certify them within 10 days, but beyond that there was no hurry. [NOTE: The developer is often in a hurry to get started- time is money to their plans]
Fox also gave an overview of how he does his homework on issues by visiting the site, reading the PC minutes, asking PC board members questions, and generally knowing some of these areas from his school board tenure.
3. Does “recommend” mean “needs to be done”? Miller explained that the staff recommendations are put out for the PC to consider. Mitter explained that the board usually adopts those recommendations, that the one for geotech studies on Barber Rd. development was rare. It will get done per the ordinance, but they felt that it didn’t have to be done in advance as the staff recommended. [NOTE: If the county does not find some way to increase the duration of the bond on that road design, the county will be taking a huge risk. Hillside roads, even well-engineered ones, do not always fail in the first year.]
4. Why does it appear we are changing ordinances whenever a developer asks? She noted a large number of variance requests also. The ordinance was a good standard- why change?

5. Migrant housing on Beiersdorfer Orchard property- Craig Beckley- was probably coming in mid May per Jeff Hughes- they cancelled tonight.

6. Pickens presented the Manchester EMS contract for signing. Fox motioned and Hughes 2nd. Approved.
Claims and minutes of previous meetings approved.
Pickens noted there is a special meeting at 5:30 PM Wed Apr 20 for the Council for tax penalty waiver. Commissioners were invited.

7. Ewbank- Att’y- stated he was working on an ordinance to relieve the penalty on the payable 04 taxes. SBOA has to review it also. The Auditor and Treasurer petitioned this.
He also stated that he responded to the Public Access Counselor on a formal complaint about their previous executive session being improperly advertised.

8. Benning noted that a plaque was being made for Al Werner- “our first building inspector” and was paid for by public donations. They will have a reception and present it at a later date.
She announced that Travis Miller will be given an outstanding public service award on Fountain Square May 4th. Jeff Hughes recommended him for this through OKI.

9. Travis Miller reported that the GIS demonstrations in the building went well and personnel recommended a task force on GIS be formed. They are presenting to Soil and Water also.

Meeting adjourned 8:10 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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