Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Commissioners Uncomfortably Clueless at 24 May 2005 Working Meeting

Commissioners Uncomfortably Clueless at 24 May 2005 Working Meeting

Present: Benning, Fox, Hughes
Also present: Stephanie Disbro- taking minutes for Cary Pickens, Bryan Messmore, Administrator, and Bob Ewbank, Att’y.

Don Townsend, the County Building Inspector, seemed determined to get his departmental fees updated, in spite of time restraints (30 minutes) on his presentation that would have further delayed progress for at least another month. Fox and Ewbank peppered him with questions regarding his fee structure and justifications of the dollar amounts. Townsend’s packet of information and calculations showing actual costs vs. charges stood up to the questioning.
Finishing his presentation, the commissioners seem to be on the same page to adopt the new schedule at their next regular meeting, pending a revised ordinance prepared by Ewbank to reflect those changes. Townsend stated that he wanted to be sure that the users of his dept. paid for their services and not the taxpayers.

(Ewbank was clear with commissioners that no voting was to occur at these working sessions.)

The highway department didn’t fare as well. Mike Davis with back up from Mark Seiler presented their annual report, which couldn’t be signed, because this was a working session.
They also presented a paving, chip seal, etc. list that Benning said they couldn’t vote on, so they also couldn’t present it to Council that night as they had previously planned
. Benning stated that the widening of roads would have to wait. They could only do maintenance items and repairs as afforded. Benning seemed intent on covering 3 roads in her district, Martin, Grimsley, and Wilkerson. Fox and Hughes were more concerned with main roads, which Davis assured them were on the special projects list- a WISH LIST- for 5-6 years out. Councilman Dennis Kraus was observing the meeting and Benning turned to him at several points for back up. At one point she asked him about being late before with paving, sometimes as late as August.
Wilson Creek was mentioned- with the severe slip at the bottom- as being eligible for FEMA funds from flood damage. [NOTE: There are other slips on recently paved roads which are worsening, for example the hill just up from the bottom of Pribble Rd. Fox has also mentioned others in previous meetings.
Most residents of the county expect their roads to be safe. We have ventured into a time where that is questionable, even on the main collectors. Commissioners need to roll up their sleeves and figure out a way to get the job done. If it weren’t for the staff and workers in the highway dept. doing in-house work, nothing would be happening. Leadership from the commissioners is not happening. They are still talking about learning the basics and haven’t begun to intellectually venture into the realm of a 5-year plan. The county administrator with input from the Planning Dept. and Transportation Study is attempting to get this started, but with the low level of discussion from commissioners at this working session, it seems like a big leap to get them to that sort of forward thinking to accommodate the entire county’s growth.]

Criminal Justice Campus – it was the consensus of the commissioners that they would review the process by starting with the jail advisory committee. They plan to invite them to the June 14 Working Meeting to go over other alternatives other than building a campus. RQAW gave two lengthy presentations to Commissioners and to Council earlier this year to bring them all up to speed. Now it seems with all the money spent (and time) that none of these commissioners is familiar with the process and so they are going to see how they arrived at their decisions. Benning had noted that there was no commissioner on that committee. Ewbank stated that it was Karen Shell, but that she was no longer in office. [NOTE: Was Benning not paying attention during those updates during her first term?] Ewbank noted that it is more cost-effective for gov’t to lease rather than purchase…. [NOTE: If he was referring to a jail expansion, I’m having difficulty imagining being the landlord of that use!]

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Plan Commission Says “Yes” to Everything at 23 May 2005 Meeting

23 May 2005 Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes

Plan Commission Says “Yes” to Everything at 23 May 2005 Meeting

It took 3 .75 hours, but in the end the Plan Commission approved everything on the agenda, including 3 months of minutes.
There were approximately thirty citizens in attendance and a full 9-member board present. Register Publications covered this meeting as well.

1.Harvest Ridge- the 198-lot Maxwell cluster development on Dogridge Rd. in Kelso Township (recently rezoned to R-DP) took nearly 1.75 hours with 8 neighbors presenting opposing statements, similar to those of the zone change hearings- (see notes on previous meetings.) Mike Hall motioned and Bob Laws 2nd to approve with the stipulations that the 2 intersections with SR 1 and SR 46 had to be assured prior to the subd’n being constructed, additional greenspace buffers would be added for surrounding property owners as much as could be within the lot setbacks, all staff comments would be accomplished, line fence installed all around the subdivision, a service drive would be used as staff recommended for 3 lots, and Maxwell would sign the 10-yr covenant with INDOT to install the light as needed on Sr1. Unanimously passed.

2. Evansgate Estates- a 4-lot subdivision on Dutch Hollow Rd on 2.22 acres owned by Ralph Evans passed with two Nays (Held and deMaynadier) Laws motioned and Kraus,Jr. 2nd to approve it with individual access for each lot. There was no public to comment on this.

3. Proposed changes to the zoning ordinance regarding cul-de-sacs and traffic impact studies both received favorable recommendations to the board of commissioners. There were text amendments, but only to clarify passages.

4. Fee schedule changes passed effective July 1st with Kraus, Hall, and Hughes voting Nay. The new schedule reduces the burden on small lot sub’ns. It increases costs on the larger ones, due to more oversight and staff costs to accommodate the applications.


June 8 at the Lawrenceburg Library from 7-9 PM - the meeting on the Fiscal Impact Study being considered for the county. All public officials and town and city mayors, chamber, school supt., and the DCEDI were invited. THIS MEETING SHOULD BE ATTENDED BY ANYONE INTERESTED IN THE FUTURE LAND USE MAP!!!!

Transportation Plan – which is a process the commissioners are undertaking – is starting. Bryan Messmore ( County Administrator) gave the timeline to Travis who shared it with the board. This fits with OKI’s roles as MPO as well and the Plan Commission will stay abreast of the progress as roads are reclassified . Of particular note are collector roads which may qualify for federal dollars.

Meeting adjourned at 10:45 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

16 May 2005 Dearborn County Commissioners Meeting Notes

16 May 2005 Dearborn County Commissioners Meeting Notes

Present: Benning, President, Fox and Hughes.
Also Present: Pickens, Auditor, Messmore, Administrator, and Ewbank, Attorney.
This meeting was NOT videotaped.

1. Public hearing for Equestrian States Zone Map Amendment. Travis Miller, Planning Director also gave the overview and results of the Planning Commision hearing. He presented slides as well.
The developer was not present for this hearing. Seven residents spoke against the zone change citing issues primarily related to the road inadequacies and other services (fire, police, ems, and schools) not being ready to accept increased development yet. Citizens speaking were: Gloria Hoog, Marlene Hoog, Mary Lou Hilbert, Patrick Eckstein, Susan Eckstein, Cliff Eibeck, and Alan Breitenstein.
Increased taxes to support schools and services are already anticipated due to the other developments recently approved in the northern part of the county. Sewer capacity was also questioned. A video of severe road flooding was shown, as were pictures of road deficiencies. Subdivision conflicts and traffic issues with farm equipment and farming uses were named also. Breitenstein gave his comments regarding the duties of public officials to the people and listening to what the people want. He ended with a comment that property rights for the people who want to LIVE on the property should be as important as the rights of developers who want to SELL property.
Rick Fox stated that he was out there and saw the area and issues. Jeff Hughes asked if the road was slated for work soon? Mike Davis, Hwy Director, responded no- more like a long range plan. Travis Miller told them they had 90 days to act and this was the last meeting before that 990 days was up. Benning questioned using the Working session, but Ewbank told them decisions were not to be made at working sessions.
Miller noted that the applicant was not present. Benning asked WHO was supposed to notify the applicant? [NOTE: Incorrectly implying that Planning office was responsible).] Miller responded that applicants are responsible to find out. [NOTE: The residents and applicant are notified by the plan commission of their public hearing. Then the recommendation is certified to the commissioners. The commissioners would be responsible to notify residents and applicant IF THEY DECIDE THAT IS THEIR POLICY. No one notified residents, they had to check to see when the hearing was. The same is true for the applicant, who had requested to be heard at the 2nd meeting in May.]
Fox motioned to deny the zone change. Benning turned to Hughes and pointedly asked if there was a second. It died for lack of a second. Hughes was concerned about applicant absence. He motioned to table and Benning seconded it. They voted Aye and Fox voted Nay. Then they rescinded their tabling motion when they realized it couldn’t be tabled to any particular date as this was the last available meeting. Ewbank noted that it was effectively denied by them taking NO ACTION and letting the unfavorable stand for 90 days. That becomes a denial at the end of the 90 days. (Certification was March 4, so 90 days is the first week in June prior to the June 7 meeting.
[NOTE: Benning appeared to want to accept this proposal, but with no one speaking in favor, she had little to go on. Fox had researched the area and application and understood the implications. Hughes was concerned with being fair to developer- who was not present to state his case. Not all of them appear to trust the recommendation of the Plan Commission – and Benning didn’t seem informed. It was unclear just what she was basing her decision on.]

2. Laughery Creek Bridge- David Denman- NO Show

3. Claims and Minutes were signed.

4. Jennifer and James Mallett- citizens spoke about a drainage issue with the health dept. being called in on Bond Road. Mike Davis is going to check it out.

5. Bryan Messmore- County Administrator- presented the DCEDI (Economic Development Initiative) contract for signing stating that Ewbank had reviewed it. Lisa Lehner – att’y for DCEDI- had sent it. Benning stated she hadn’t seen it yet. Ewbank noted that the SBOA (Board of Accounts) typically has the right to inspect records of organizations, which get a certain amount of public money. This contract was written to change the terms to reflect the relationship as services provided to avoid the books being open to the public. They asked for $6250/month, which Benning noted was higher that the $25,000 they were using as approved from the Redevelopment Commission money. (Actually it’s $75,000 total and 3 x the amount she thinks they previously approved.)
NO ACTION was taken on this until it is researched further. Pickens also noted that it has to be approved at budget time by Council.
[NOTE: What’s with the DCEDI being afraid to have the public money the receive accounted for? One sure-fire way to lose public confidence in an organization is to close your books to public scrutiny.]
Messmore allowed Travis Miller to present the background to the 911 reimbursement to the county on their Phase 2 Cost Recovery to get cell phone compliance with 911 that Planning and Zoning had written the grant for. Fox and Hughes motioned. All Ayes. Benning signed the paperwork.

6. Bob Ewbank- Att’y- reiterated the info on tort claims and insurance from last meeting. He reviewed the Building Dept. code and stated that they SHOULD BE CHARGING FOR ELECTRICAL INSPECTIONS.
He also stated that he’d talked to the Public Access Counselor on the Commissioner’s Open Door violations and technical issues with their executive sessions. He wants to review all executive session materials to be in full compliance. He also stated that it’s easy to do the proper notifications with the forms he has downloaded.

7. Benning’s report included the Hospital Board’s recent elections: Rob.t Hoffmeier, Chair, Ron Denning, Vice Chair, Betty Bischoff- Sec’y, and John Stroup, Att’y.
She announced a Mosquito Workshop in Versailles, and the Relay for Life date was determined to be June 25th weekend. Working meetings start May 24th 5-7PM. After that they will be on the 2nd Tues of each month. She also plans to attend the legislative luncheon sponsored by Ewbank’s firm at the Applewood on Wednesday.

Travis Miller announced the Land Workshop with FSG- Financial Solutions Group June 8 from 7-9 PM. Many officials have been invited as well. This will help determine the actual fiscal impact of each type of development in our county and is a precursor to determining the map for future land uses later this year. The meeting location will be announced- either at the Library or Tate St. Center.

Meeting adjourned 8:30 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

3 May 2005 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

3 May 2005 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting NotesPresent: Present: Vera Benning, President, Jeff Hughes, and Rick Fox.
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.”
This meeting was videotaped, the same as all previous meetings since January 2005.
1. Public hearing for Zone change from Ag- to B-1 for 2.396 acres of Lonnie Steele’s property on Mt. Pleasant Rd (part of THE FARM GOLF COURSE) for a restaurant facility. Travis Miller gave a PowerPoint presentation of the proceedings at the Plan Commission, where this was given a favorable recommendation with one nay vote. He noted that the sewer access is currently under discussion, but has not been achieved yet. He noted also that the sewage is currently in a holding tank and pumped periodically to remove it.
NO PUBLIC came to speak on this.
Fox motioned and Hughes 2nd to approve the zone change to B-1 stating that it met the 5 criteria for a zone change. [NOTE: They did not discuss or state how this met the 5 criteria!] Motion passed.
Travis also presented the new FEMA rules for article 8 in the zoning ordinance for commissioners’ approval. It also had a favorable from the plan commission. This replacement for the old section 8 in the ordinance book contains more glossary words (defined) and also a newer role for the BZA in floodplain decisions. Fox motioned and Hughes 2nd to approve the new floodplain rules. Passed.
Travis Miller also had the commissioners sign off on the written commitments for Maxwell’s development on DogRidge Rd.

2. Bonnie Cantwell of YOUR IMAGE PRODUCTIONS, who has been doing the video taping of the commissioners meeting, presented her plan to be paid $75/meeting to produce an unedited digital copy of the meetings for public record. Copies would be indexed to the agenda. She stated it could be a legal aid as “no one can dispute what the camera sees or hears.” Pickens stated that it couldn’t be funded till next year. Fox stated that the bottom line is that we don’t have the money. Hughes motioned to table this to look into it further. Fox 2nd. Tabled. [NOTE: This seems to be a duplication of services. What would be the official record- the minutes or the video?]

3. Mike Davis- Transportation Director- gave a report. He is trying to get a uniform project form to give a one-page snapshot of the pros and cons of various projects proposed.
8 trucks were bought several years ago all at the same time. They have over 250,000 miles on them and will need to be replaced. Davis wants to replace three currently. Fox stated that a truck replacement schedule was needed. Pickens stated that it needed to be brought in at budget time- no mid-year requests.
Fox wants Davis to get bids (he probably means quotes, as he doesn’t want to be bound to buy based on them) for budget time so they can make a formal request. Messmore stressed that these lines of communication needed to be open, not done behind the scene.
Davis stated there were 4-5 roads set for paving this summer, also several on the chip seal program. He wanted to widen Sawdon Ridge and Mt. Pleasant by 2 ft. Davis talked to a Ripley Cty. Company that widens roads- about 3 mi/day. They rest could be done in-house and cheaper.
Benning wanted to know if money was available. Messmore stated they looked, Pickens wasn’t sure. He also noted that projects go to Council for approval first for money to be released. Fox wanted to look at the traffic study and plan where the dollars should go. Benning noted that Wilkerson, Grimsley, and Ache have been on the list already. Fox needed exact figures of available funds and also the ones previously funded. Messmore and Pickens noted there were problems finding the funds. No real decision on this…..
Davis talked about the light at Schuman and SR1 that Maxwell is to pay for. Messmore noted several criteria to go into getting INDOT to agree. One is the peak traffic count, also the number of accidents (34 since 2003) and annual maintenance for the county of $1000 for the light plus replacement costs of about $10,000. Again- no decision.

4. Jeff Talkers- The Survey Co. – gave an update on Whites Hill. Project to be completed in 4-5 weeks with clean up and rip-wrap and guardrail. There was a change order presented for a culvert from 48” to 60-72” arched one with headwall of $67,000. Budgeted so far spent was $754,000. It would be longer than 5 weeks to open if culvert changed. They felt the 48” was inadequate.
The sewer pipe was upgraded from 8 to 10 “ and St. Leon is to pay the difference. There was no decision on the change order.

5. Dave Lykins Woliung Rd- No Show

6.Don Townsend- Building Inspector- asked for a complete revamp of the fee schedule. $25 for inspections is not enough- he says actual costs are $45. Taxpayers have been subsidizing part of the costs of inspections. He wants to put the costs where they belong- on the use- i.e. the builders and developers. [NOTE: Actually, this cost will go to the homeowner- the builder/developer is a pass-thru.]He stated that since 1986- 2228 electrical inspections were done for free due to a misinterpretation of the ordinance. Ewbank told him to request an interpretation in writing on that law and he will give it to him ASAP. He felt that would fix things. Townsend to write the letter. (It appears this means Ewbank probably charges the building dept. for his services.)Commissioners want to think about it and have a working session on 2nd Tues of each month from 5-7 PM. (starting in June) They plan to go over this schedule then and decide it at the next REGULAR meeting after that.

7. Jeff Smith- Weights and Measures- left early- but gave his written annual 2004 report to Messmore for the commissioners.

8. Migrant Housing through Heart House and Craig Beckley to be located and owned by Beiersdorfer’s Orchards. Bill Beiersdorfer stated that they wanted to keep farming for the children to take over. They have had a trailer to house migrants for 30 years.
Beckley stated that there is NO EXPENSE TO THE COUNTY- that the county is just a pass though, because they have to be sponsored by a local branch of gov’t.
This structure will replace the existing structure- similar to the request 3 years ago in 2002 that was turned down by commissioners. Beiersdorfer’s put up a 10% match; Heart House does all the paperwork. The original request was for $200-250,000 building. Beiersdorfers put up 20-25,000. In 10 years the building becomes theirs. Taxpayers foot the other 90%. [Note: There is a built in conflict of interest- Heart House gets paid administrative fees as a percent of this grant- so it is to their advantage to get the maximum amount of dollars for the building.]
Because the rules were just published Friday, Beckley had nothing firm to show them. The application is due June 20. Building is to be 2 units with a central storage and washers/driers in middle. Each unit is 3 bedrooms, LR, DR, kitchen, and bathrooms.
It can only be used for migrant housing or they have to pay state back. [Note: What about after 10 years is up? Can they rent it out to others then?]
Beiersdorfer’s pay increased taxes on this building also.
Beckley has to do environmental review and historical review, but can’t do it until commissioners make him their agent. [Note: This is the usual method- bring it in last minute- try to rush things so the details are not known- and then get an approval because we might lose the chance to get the funds.]
Commissioners seemed reluctant to sign off on this until they saw all the paperwork. Fox motioned and Hughes 2nd to allow Heart House (Beckley) to be the agent for the county to do the application only. They will not give final approval until the paperwork is in front of them for review.
[Note: The issue FOR THE COMMISSIONERS 3 years ago had several points. One was public money being spent to build housing on private land to become privately owned. If the county owned the building, it might be different. Also, there were concerns about health care for the migrants and what that would cost the county, if we began to encourage this sort of enterprise. Also, was it fair to give this to one farmer and not to others? Lastly, there were concerns about migrants being paid so little that they couldn’t afford any housing. The commissioners at that time did not seem to give any credence to bigoted comments about migrants in general. The commissioners and the public had no issue with Beiersdorfer’s Orchard- in fact they seemed supportive of them as a long time farming family, in general.]

9. Cary Pickens- Auditor- had commissioners sign off on the annual Congressional School Fund which is a 100 year old (or so) – fund that exists- mostly on paper.
Pickens updated them on the Riverboat Revenue issues (thanks to the local reps and Nugent and Bischoff) and stated that we will probably lose the hold harmless funds ($4-5 million) that were used to replace the head tax when we went to dockside gaming. He stressed that we have to come up with a plan for 2 years from now in order to keep the money, because they will be asking for it again. Lawrenceburg also has to. He also stated that we have to account for our expenditures, but the state can’t seem to account for what they did with their $2.5 billion share.

10. Bryan Messmore- Administrator- set up the working session for 2nd Tues of month form 5-7PM- a public meeting.
He also noted some email and webpage issues with computers lately.

11. Bob Ewbank, Att’y- Notified commissioners of pending litigations and insurance company notifications. He also noted there is no decision yet on the Larry Smith/Richard Schmidt lawsuit over the White’s Hill development that was rezoned.
He is reviewing the status of all performance bonds.
He is also fairly certain the state will allow the deadline for taxes to go from Apr20- July 5 with no penalty.

12. Hughes had nothing to report. Fox updated them on Collier Ridge slip repair. Benning invited commissioners to sewer board meeting to help get them some funding.
She also stated that we need to hire an engineer that is a resident of IN and PE certified in IN. Fox noted that we could pay for it in fees that have gone to consultants. Cary noted that it’s already in the budget. [Note: If a PE can’t be obtained at this salary or for other reasons, commissioners might want to consider hiring a younger candidate and giving him/her the experience to qualify for the P.E. ultimately. The computer literacy of a younger candidate may also be an asset to the efficiency of the highway dept., which is currently using a manual system to track performance bonds etc. Imagine what might be possible if the highway dept. took a "hi-tech" step up in performance. It wouldn’t hurt to hire an engineering intern for that dept. also.]
Meeting adjourned at 8:30 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township