Tuesday, July 26, 2005

25 July 2005 Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes

25 July 2005 Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes

Present: Jeff Hughes, Acting Chairman, Mike Hall, Jane Ohlmansiek, Nick Held, Robert Laws, and Dennis Kraus, Jr.
Absent: Mark Mitter, Patrick deMaynadier, and Tarry Feiss
Also present: Travis Miller, Plan Director, Mark McCormack, Enforcement Officer, and Arnie McGill, Attorney.

Primary approval of 1- lot replat for Cooper Run Estates in Harrison Township off Johnson Fork Road was approved unanimously.
This subdivision consists of 31 lots plus a lot for access to the next property. It was originally approved in 1991 and is an Ag subdivision on 71.37 acres. No public commented though there were about 8 people present.
Once the access to the collector was revised, the staff had no problems with this replat.
Hall motioned and Held 2nd to approve. All ayes. Dennis Kraus Jr. did not vote- he stepped outside for this presentation as his father Dennis Kraus Sr presented the application.


The Plan Commission approved a draft of a letter that Travis Miller presented with some slight corrections to be sent in response to the county residents who were informing the Planning office of their objections to being forced to hook onto St. Leon Sewers. Even though the plan Commission has no jurisdiction in this matter, they did want to explain their position to the residents who have been sending them letters.
Mike Hall mentioned that Mel Davis from Lawrenceburg Utilities had asked him if the county would be interested in becoming the central governing figure in the sewer plans rather than L-bg. This would not affect the St. Leon Sewer decisions however.

Jeff Hughes brought up the idea of an area Plan Commission rather than an advisory one like we have. This would include municipalities. Travis will prepare an updated executive summary of this- pros and cons- for the next Plan Commission meeting. Mike Hall noted that he didn’t see the bigger cities and maybe not even the towns wanting to give up jurisdiction. “They want our help (administratively) but they want to keep final word on decisions.”
St. Leon will be ready by early 2006 with their intergovernmental agreement on county planning services.

Travis Miller presented the general structure of the Future Land Use Map Committees and wanted to make the August 18th meeting at the Adult Center on Tate Street a kick off meeting rather than a working session. They plan to resurrect the advisory board for the master plan as a part of this and also have 4 focus groups on Commercial/Industrial, Residential, Agricultural, and Open Space/Parks. They also plan to invite members of the municipalities including their utility managers. Letters will go out soon for this. The plan is to have the map finished by the end of 2005 for recommended approval by the plan Commission and then the Commissioners.

Travis met with the US 50 Collaborative last week (cities, towns county council, and Bischoff and Nugent, etc) to propose a scope of services to study the land uses next to US 50 Corridor. The US 50 Study that INDOT is doing does NOT have Land Uses in it’s scope of services- they are only concerned with traffic flow.
[NOTE: This seems shortsighted, since traffic flow is directly related to the type of land uses that feed into the road!]
Because the US 50 study is stalled at the “order to proceed” stage, the Collaborative felt that this might be an opportune time to get this done concurrent with it. Lawrenceburg may have dollars to fund this land use study to the tune of possibly $300,000. OKI has helped considerably with this as well.

NOTE: The meeting on August 18th 7-9 PM at The Tate Street Adult Center on the FUTURE LAND USE MAP FOR THE COUNTY is open to the public.

Meeting adjourned at 8:10 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Sad State of Traffic Control on US 50

I would like to offer comments on the sad state of traffic control on the US 50 Lawrenceburg/Aurora corridor. Though I have no formal traffic control expertise, I feel that my observance of the poor traffic flow conditions on my commute every weekday morning and evening for the last 10 years qualifies me to comment.

First - this isn’t rocket science folks. Lots and lots of cars go east in the morning, and lots and lots of cars go west in the evening. We don’t need a huge, costly study to figure out what the problem is.

Second - in consideration of my first point, allow a dramatic increase in directional flow by timing and lengthening traffic lights appropriately. Businesses may object; i.e., this may slightly delay an evening eastbound WalMart patron from turning left(!), but I believe in the long run, more folks would be willing to make the trek to these businesses if they knew they wouldn’t have to face snarled traffic (myself included). Feeder routes would undoubtedly face somewhat of a delay, but quite frankly, the only feeder routes that I currently see jammed are those used in attempts to evade US 50 in downtown Lawrenceburg.

Third - to take full advantage of the lengthened and timed traffic lights, allow large trucks to travel in one lane only - left lane or right lane; I don’t care. How many times have we all been stuck behind two side-by-side trucks that, because of their slow acceleration, only allow a half dozen or so cars to follow them through the green light? (Tho’ we all know about the success of controlling large trucks; i.e., Rt 1).

The cost? No studies, no consultants, no contractors = no tax dollars.

Richard W. Hartle

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Greendale Council Faces Three County Based Issues at 13 July 2005 Three Hour Meeting

Greendale Council Faces Three County Based Issues at 13 July 2005 Three Hour Meeting

[Note: These notes only address issues discussed that are pertinent to the county at large]
7 council members present along with Attorney Butler, Clerk Treasurer Lynch, Police Chief Uhlman, and City Manager Lampert. Mayor Hedrick was absent- Al Abdon presided. (Jeff Hughes- D-1 County Commissioner was also present in the audience for part of this meeting.)

1. Annexation requests for three potential subdivision developments on Stateline Road. The room was full (standing room only) for this portion of the meeting. Abdon carefully lead this part of the meeting to insure all concerns were heard, even though the citizens were non-residents of Greendale.
Classic Properties (Blossom Hill) under Joe Farrugia requested consideration for annexation along with previous requests from the Villages of Sugar Ridge and Heritage Ridge. The County Plan Commission has repeatedly denied Blossom Hill primarily for road access and safety issues along with impacts to Stateline rd, which is not on any county list for major improvements, sewage access issues, storm water and the single entrance for 292 units. Farrugia seemed to change his mind from meeting to meeting on how much he was willing to do to alleviate those concerns.
Farrugia went on to say that this was a PRIVATE development and so costs to Greendale would be minimal- roads etc would be the HOA’s concern. [NOTE: We’ve heard this before- and then when they can’t meet their obligations, who bails them out? Even HVL POA, as large as it is, is struggling with costs for road repairs and sewer line maintenance and now a treatment plant possibly. The county needs to watch these proceedings carefully.]
IDEM has held a public hearing in the county concerning Blossom Hill’s request for a private sewage treatment facility (that would have dumped effluent into a creek bed that was dry much of the year.) [NOTE: Both IDEM and the county sewer board are no fans of private treatment facilities, particularly when public sewers are available.]
Butler gave a brief overcap of annexation proceedings so that county residents opposed to being annexed could understand their rights in this potential procedure. He discussed notifications and remonstrance rules as well.
Greendale is already servicing Sugar Ridge with sewers for phase 1 built to their specs and turned over to Greendale at no cost. Property owners in Sugar Ridge are not allowed to remonstrate against annexation as part of the deal that Greendale had for providing sewer service to them. The citizens surrounding these developments do not wish to be annexed. Some of them live in areas between the requested annexations and so they feared they would be included.
The Greendale Council consensus was that the cart is before the horse and that no decision can be made for any new development until the IURC issues and CTA for sewers are resolved over Sugar Ridge first. They also were adamant in their concerns that RESIDENTIAL annexation costs all the taxpayers of their unit more to provide services to those areas. [NOTE: The only way this can possibly come close to break even is if the homes are high end with NO KIDS for schools.]

2. Steve Lampert gave the SR1 SR48 Connector status report. He showed the old interlocal agreement to council members, and discussed the bat and soil conditions that lead to the demise of the first Greendale by-pass to an area attached to Industrial Drive.
He noted this new connector is NOT A BY-PASS and even the consultants and INDOT acknowledge that it won’t work as one. It goes through a lot of county land also. It also has ballooned from $8 million to $20 million estimated cost. [NOTE: And won’t get the job done for traffic- it may even worsen issues particularly at the 2 endpoints- Belleview at 275 and Scenic at 48.]
The US 50 Corridor Study is needed to look at this all comprehensively and unfortunately it is moving at “glacial speed” as Lampert stated.
Lampert noted the environmental study was being done and a huge bat study was involved. He also stated that the county was real favorable towards this. [NOTE: The county was favorable toward the Corridor Study- they want a comprehensive look at US 50 problems- they did not seem favorable at all toward the connector as it didn’t help US 50 traffic issues, potentially hurts Scenic Drive which is not adequate even now, and puts a bridge and hospital traffic too far down to be of help to county ambulances.]
Abdon asked me about public involvement in the process. I told him that there was a session at Lawrenceburg’s Plan Commission and then one at Tate Street Adult Center. The latter was an official meeting for public comment on the routes that SIECO Strand had already chosen.
Funding that is available for this is feared to be lost if we don’t proceed.
Greendale’s support is based on a desire to get traffic off US 50 but is conditional on having Belleview become 4 lanes first. Greendale will not sign if Belleview is not addressed.

3. VRUC for Hidden Valley received a provisional grant of approval from IURC for Sugar Ridge, where GREENDALE IS ALREADY PROVIDING SERVICE! Butler questioned the IURC board’s ethics and bias in this matter. [NOTE: I later learned that Parvin Price was HVL’s attorney in this matter. Price is essentially the guru for anyone wishing to get past the IURC….]
IURC apparently didn’t read or understand the briefs given to them because they decided the matter contrary to the facts as presented. In any event- it seems ludicrous that a city which has invested their taxpayer’s money to form a regional sewer district, then offers to help out a large COUNTY development like HVL, when HVL was in trouble is being turned into the bad guy. HVL now thinks they are going to go on their own. If HVL VRUC has to build a plant, and install lines, are they going to treat it all their or pump to SDRSD? There is a cost savings in pooling resources with utilities. [NOTE: HVL- though large- is not large enough to absorb the costs of this utility in the long term. The county should be concerned. The county sewer board should REALLY be concerned. The best thing for the county residents both in and out of HVL is to cooperate with the adjoining municipalities and pool resources.
Greendale is still considering their options at this point. Annexation of Sugar Ridge might make theVRUC utility claim a moot point. One would think that current service provisions would trump a future claim on territory, but perhaps common sense is not being applied at the IURC in Indianapolis.]

There were other Greendale matters that came before Council that I have not reported here. Register Publications covered this meeting- watch the newspaper for further details on the Alternative Plastics fire costs, the Greendale EMS budget and possible partially paid squads and squad billing, budget requests, and Rumpke increases for garbage pickup.

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

5 July 2005 County Commissioner Meeting Notes

5 July 2005 County Commissioner Meeting Notes

Present: Benning, President, Hughes, and Fox
Also Present: Ewbank, Attorney, Pickens, Auditor, and Messmore, Administrator

1. Commissioners voted publicly to deny the insurance appeal they discussed at their executive session prior to this meeting.

2. Travis Miller presented info on creating the County Housing Council as recommended by the Housing Needs Assessment done in conjunction with the Master Plan. Lu Ann Male (Lifetime Housing) and Craig Beckley (Heart House and member of original committee) also answered commissioner’s questions.
The council was recommended because it was clear that several groups were working on similar projects in the county and a place to coordinate communication was needed. The council would meet at least annually. Benning asked about housing financing. Beckley explained the loans and grants available for affordable housing. Fox wanted to table it to talk to some of the stakeholders. Benning thought it was a good idea and supported the council as a means of getting grants. Lu Ann Male explained that the council strengthens the positions of each stakeholder when they seek grants. The council itself won’t get grants. Hughes wanted more time to research it.

Miller also told commissioners that the county is 10th in the state in growth rate and 4th in the Greater Cincinnati area .

3. Building Department- Don Townsend- presented the commercial fee schedule along with a justification for increasing fees up front, showing large volumes of plans associated with each commercial project. Fox wanted less categories and more simplification of the schedule. Purpose is not to make a profit- but to keep the department in the black even with the possibility of needing more inspectors for the increased projects. Townsend will get with Ewbank to implement the commissioner’s changes, rewrite the ordinance, and advertise it for a future hearing date.

4. APEX Benefits Group- Brian Elson- introduced himself and requested the OK to get county info to break apart the health insurance plans and bid for the business. He is essentially an insurance broker- and so uses the info to go out and see what’s in the market to serve the county. His fee comes from the company that the county selects to serve the employees. If they don’t select them- he works for free.
Commissioners essentially shut him down- with a “just stay in touch with Bryan Messmore.” They did not give permission to have access to the county health insurance demographics.
Pickens was in favor of having the insurance plans bid out. He also stated that the HSA accounts were essentially a wash- no real benefit from them in his opinion as only 1 person switched and 3-4 others signed up for it who never had any insurance before, so it cost the county $1200 each for them also…

5. Claims and minutes signed. Annual contract for brucellosis and TB for cattle through Dr. Hubbard signed.

July 19th meeting will ONLY BE FOR SIGNING CLAIMS – no other business per Cary Pickens. The next regular commissioner meeting is in August.

6. Bryan Messmore- Administrator:

Commissioners signed off on title to a car that was totaled under Community Corrections.

Letters for the Transportation Plan Steering Committee were sent- meeting on August 10th at 10 AM.

The one-stop permitting process is beginning with a realignment of the applications in the various departments to coordinate and streamline the process. After getting a standard application they will test this model first for a while to see how it works. Eventually they may rearrange workers and tasks to become more efficient.

Meeting adjourned at 7:45 PM

[NOTE: It seems that in a county of just under 50,000 people there is very little happening that affects the citizens’ daily life- at least nothing that is being PUBLICLY discussed.]

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township