Tuesday, February 28, 2006

27 February 2006 Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes

27 February 2006 Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes
All three TIF Districts Pass Plan Commission Scrutiny

Present: Mark Mitter, Chairman, Patrick deMaynadier, Jane Ohlmansiek, Tarry Feiss, Nick Held, Mike Hall, and Dennis Kraus, Jr.
Absent: Jeff Hughes and Robert Laws
Also Present: Arnie McGill, Attorney, and Mark McCormack, Enforcement Officer.
Margaret Minzner, GIS Coordinator, and the staff of the Planning office were also present as well as Bryan Messmore, County Administrator all seated at the side table.

Register Publications did not cover this meeting in person.
The room was full- primarily for the TIF district presentation under #2.

1. Nicole Daily and Mark Rosenberger of Bayer Becker presented another version of their waiver of sidewalks request for clients Rohe Development for Condos on Mt Pleasant in Logan Township across from the golf course.
This request was for sidewalks on one side only. The Board reviewed the request, determined that they were split as to whether this was a substantive change from previous requests, and decided to hear it. The board questioned parking areas and location of internal amenities, and safety and health concerns. Bayer Becker contended that their concept design didn’t include sidewalks and the land was rezoned with that design in mind. Board reminded them that concept designs are not detailed and that they still have to comply with the ordinances.
Ohlmansiek motioned and de Maynadier 2nded to DENY the waiver for sidewalks and TO REQUIRE them on both sides except for the building on the cul-de sac (one side only there) 6 AYES and 1 NAY (Kraus , Jr.)


2. Jim West (DCEDI), Richard Butler, Att’y for Redevelopment Commission, Mike Rozow (Chamber of Commerce), Mark Neff (Chamber Liaison for governmental affairs), Tom Gehring (DCEDI), and Tom Kent (DCEDI) were present to request the approval of the Redevelopment Commission’s resolution. The Plan Commission had to determine whether or not the 3 TIF districts proposed by the Redevelopment Commission were in accord with the county master plan.

Mark McCormack, Enforcement Officer, presented the staff report on each district. The report included the EXISTING Zoning and also the CURRENT LAND USE in each TIF district. PowerPoint presentation included pictures of these areas. He instructed them that they were to determine if it conforms to the master plan, to discuss any modifications with the redevelopment commission, and that the next step after this was the County Commissioners. THE REDEVELOPMENT COMMISSION WILL HAVE TO HAVE THEIR OWN PUBLIC HEARING AFTER THAT TO DECIDE IF THEY WILL PROCEED AS PROPOSED. West says this meeting will occur in lat March probably in this same Commissioner’s Meeting Room.

Jim West presented the Redevelopment Commission proposals, even though his “paid job” is as Director of the DCEDI (Dearborn County Economic Development Initiative), [NOTE: DCEDI is a public/ private partnership, funded by development interests and the local governments. Lawrenceburg pays the lion’s share of the public money at $100,000 per year. The county utilizes their $75,000 that they contribute through the Redevelopment and Chamber, and Greendale and Aurora are in or lesser amounts. These DCEDI meetings are not open to the public for view, even though more than half of the money invested is public money. Their attorney- Lisa Lehner- set up their agreements with the governments as CONTRACTS FOR SERVICES to take advantage of this legal loophole in the public process.]

West gave a brief overview of the issues of trying to compete with other communities and states for economic development and the need for a shovel ready site. He talked about TIF (Tax incremental financing) districts as a tool for economic development, where any property taxes generated in the district from new business or expansion of existing business can be captured to go back into the district for improvements in roads and sewers. Sometimes the revenues go to a bond issue to fund a debt. The bonds are sold on the public market through a bond council (Counsel?). Butler stated there were no plans for the redevelopment Commission to issue any bonds at this time. [NOTE: This is hard to believe- if they are to get a site shovel ready, it will take money up front. Where will that come form?]

The Plan commission peppered the Redevelopment presenters with questions- the answers are below:
In 1999 the original west Harrison TIF was approved. TO DATE THEY HAVE NOT CAPTURED ANY OF THE TIF REVENUE FROM THIS DISTRICT. [NOTE: This question kept getting skirted in the discussion. At the Redevelopment Commission meeting, however, it was known that the follow-up from Redevelopment Commission had NOT occurred and so the Auditor was not notified to capture the revenue. They intend to go back for it.]
Butler went on to say they were not asking the citizen to pay for the bonds. Greendale did bonds and the developer bought the bonds. He stated the TIF has no bearing o the current taxpayer or the current zoning. [NOTE: Though it will increase the pressure for rezoning and if successful it will increase the pressure to sell off lands not currently business use. It COULD ultimately result in eminent domain issues for the last holdouts when a large interest wants to buy into the now successful area. Note what happened in Norwood, OH with Rookwood Commons. After all, more tax revenue comes from business than form a farm or home. And some businesses generate more revenue than others. Small local businesses can lose out to large big- boxes and so on. A plan to protect the area surrounding these TIFs would be necessary. “Property rights” should also apply for the owners and not only the sellers of land. It’s not always about the money- sometimes it’s about family or community, or quality of life.]
Butler explained that a TIF is for 30 years, but that they don’t have to capture the taxes that long if not necessary. He stated that Vera Benning is on the Redevelopment Commission and that she wouldn’t let them capture the taxes any longer than they needed to. [NOTE: Audience laughed at this point.] He stated that the community benefits from increased water and sewer lines etc. [NOTE: Audience rumblings against this thought, probably due to sewer issues in St. Leon and surrounding area.]
Tax abatements come from Council and these are separate from the TIF incentives. West thought that the TIF was sufficient incentive and that they wouldn’t need abatements – besides abatements were facing court challenges.
West stated that the TIF benefits the entire county! Developers are spending their own money on this too. They are priming the pump. He noted that West Harrison needs sewers in theirs.
West Harrison particulars listed it as having 133 acres in B-1 and B-2 zones. Their current USES were Ag, R, Commercial, and Industrial

St. Leon particulars listed it as 350 acres in Kelso township AND ST. LEON limits. Current zones are Highway interchange and B-1, B-2 (which is allowed in H-1) Existing uses are Ag, R, Commercial, and Industrial. West noted that there are more factors needed here than in the other two. They have a fair amount of sewers, transportation is well covered, and suitable topography. West also noted that as a PLUS THEY HAVE MOTIVATED SELLERS! Some have said no, but this is not about the ownership of the property, but about POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT. They have an additional two properties in St. Leon who wish to sell.

The Aurora TIF in Washington Township is currently zoned Ag, M-1, B-1, and B-2. Current uses are Ag, R, Commercial, Industrial, and Parks/Recreation.

Citizens speaking included: Rob Herth (sp?), Helen Kremer, Rose Ann Fuernstein, Earl Dawson, Kathy Scott, Cliff Eibeck, a representative of St. Leon, who didn’t identify himself, and myself (Chris Mueller).
Questions and concerns included:
1. How are you going to pay for the infrastructure, up front?
West talked about a tax impact study THAT HASN’T BEEN DONE YET!
2. Isn’t this putting the cart before the horse?
3. Where is the internal PLAN for these districts?
4. What about eminent domain?
Butler noted that the current board does not want to use eminent domain, but he CAN’T say that they’ll NEVER be taken by eminent domain.
5. If the taxes are the same for the businesses, why will they come here? What’s the advantage?
6. The taxes increase for everyone else, why not for these businesses? What about OTHER county businesses?
7. Where are the captured dollars from the W. Harrison original TIF from 1999?
Answer- they were not captured- NO EXPLANATION OFFERED.
8. What about homes in the middle of a TIF?
9. TIFs DO affect the community- especially if the sewer line runs by our house and we are forced to hook on, no matter what.
10. Who pays the bonds if the businesses fail?
If they don’t pay off, then it was a bad investment and the buyer of the bonds loses.
11. What about the rural area?
12. What about SR1 and buses and increased traffic up there?
13. What about the inadequate interchange with I-74? TIF dollars can fix this- they are allowed to spend them OUTSIDE the TIF on items that affect the TIF area, such as an interchange. (What about getting federal and INDOT approval for this?)
14. Don’t want to have to sell under duress. Sold part of the family land for UCB, but DO NOT want the rest of this land to be in the TIF. Have a lawyer- whom should she contact to get their property removed from this plan? Butler would meet with her later. (Mrs. Frey is part of Rosewood Family Trust)
15.Mrs. Frey also stated on the record that one of the redevelopment commission members had approached them to buy their land. [NOTE: She identified that member as John Maxwell to those of us sitting near here in the audience after she sat down.]
16. How many of the Plan Commission own or have interests in the TIF districts? Kraus has an uncle with a couple acres, Hall has done survey work for the Freys.
17. St. Leon has been a target for a business/industrial park in KZF 1991 study and in SDG 1997 study. The SDG study for the Redevelopment Commission clearly recommends getting the public input as being critical to the success of the plan. There were notification issues on these TIFs. Legally- the newspaper printed notice, but in reality, people whose properties were having lines drawn around them were not talked to.
West stated they talked to the large landowners. This was apparently not entirely true as depicted by the residents in St. Leon whose properties were included and who spoke at this meeting.
18. Zoning issues surrounding the schools needs to be addressed- particularly for manufacturing uses that might become safety issues for that population.
19. Buffers are not mentioned in the plans.
20. How are you going to pay for the improvements up front?

The board asked what percentage of the total commercial base do you think this will make up?
How do you figure in the growth of existing business?

Who was on the board of the Redevelopment Commission and what was their expertise?
John Rahe- retired dentist from Aurora
John Maxwell- Maxwell Construction
Grant Hughes- Facilities Construction Mgmt
Vera Benning- County Commissioner District 3
Mike Rozow- Chamber of Commerce
Jim West- DCEDI and N KY Development background
[NOTE: These individuals do not live in or next to these TIFs so it’s not in their backyard. Only Rozow and West were at this meeting.]

Jane Ohlmansiek wanted to know what would happen to Residentially zoned land in the TIF. If someone wants to put a sub’n in there- do we say yes? We actually can because it is still R zone.
Patrick deMaynadier wanted to narrow in on how this fits the comprehensive plan. He noted that he’s generally comfortable with most of this, but said that business is not flooding into the county. He wondered if setting up 3 simultaneously would harm the projects as it wouldn’t build a critical mass because you’d be scattering the businesses coming in. He asked if they had the expertise to decide this on the Redevelopment Commission. He stated that getting that strategy right is critical!
Without knowing the fiscal impact in the county- should we table this and look at St. Leon more closely?
West noted that the impact study would be done before the Redevelopment Commission’s public hearing. [NOTE: This really should have been completed prior to this meeting.]
Patrick deMaynadier asked about the pecuniary interest issues- he noted that with Maxwell there is an interest in the land and development in and around this TIF in St. Leon as evident by things they’ve heard at the plan commission meetings.
Butler said- no one currently has an interest in the land that he knows of…
De Maynadier continued- or they will not be performing any development activity within that district?

Mitter noted that people get on boards because they have interests- that’s why they do it.

Patrick de Maynadier stated that they get on boards to perform public service- and if they want to develop, they need to be off the board. They have a choice- do they want to serve- or develop?
Patrick deMaynadier noted that he didn’t see any great expertise on TIFs on this board. He didn’t hear about fiscal balance yet.
Butler talked about Maxwell spending a fortune down there on 275 area and it has to work or he’ll lose. He wasn’t sure what the redevelopment law said about pecuniary interest. [NOTE: If you are the lawyer for the board- you should know the enabling legislation and codes of conduct. Butler knows about Greendale’s Redevelopment as well. It might be a good idea for all the boards to look at this law and it’s intent.]
The board pushed further to get the strategy or fiscal balance issues answered.
Butler said- with commitments from development we will sell bonds to build the infrastructure. He noted that in Greendale the developer bought the bonds. [NOTE: That implies that the developer then gets the bonds paid back by the TIF money that is captured. So he fronts the money and the taxes pay him back over the 30-year (more or less) and the bonds are a tax-free investment.]
West noted that he worked in N KY in late 80’s and 90s when all the development happened- because they were product ready. Some choices are needed to compete with OH and KY. We have to fund it ourselves thru TIF. If the county had to do this – they would have to take it out of County General funds (taxes)

Board members felt they need for business was valid. Mike Hall had issues with notifications and was concerned when about half the acreage (Freys) wanted out. If this were a subdivision- they would have been notified.
Kraus, Jr. wanted to know if they were meeting with St. Leon Plan Commission. West said they did last summer and will meet with Watson (atty) and another member tomorrow. [NOTE: Not exactly a PUBLIC MEETING.]
Mitter noted that tax base is lopsided and TIF is a tool. Doesn’t see the downside of this. Thinks it complies with the comp plan.
Patrick deMaynadier noted in the law- it says the commissioners can pledge the general funds of the county to back up the bonds.
[NOTE: Finally- someone said it- the commissioners and council are quietly working to get a financial consultant and also to with insurance issues to see what the county’s assets are. One reason to do this is to see what assets can be used as collateral for debt that is being incurred. Jail expansion and these TIFs are two BIG areas needing this information. So the answer to the citizen’s question about bonds is YES- they will be issued and YES the taxpayers may be liable in the end for repayment should these plans not live up the expectations. Do the bondholders risk anything really? And they are tax-free. Both reasons might explain why a developer or business will purchase those bonds.]

West Harrison TIF approved unanimously.

St Leon TIF (Butler noted that the decision does NOT depend on whether or not someone was notified!!!)
Feiss wanted it on the other side of the highway and north.
Ohlmansiek wondered if they should table it till they meet with St. Leon as part of the TIF is in their town.
Hall wanted to hear from the Freys also.
The St Leon TIF was approved with one abstention form Hall- he did survey’s for the Freys.

Aurora TIF passed unanimously. It was noted that if Aurora casket expands the taxes captured goes to the TIF.

3. Proposed changes to the ordinances were passed out in draft form for members to review for March meeting.

Administrative:Mailing fees were approved to change from $4.64 to $4.70 at Cathy’s request.

Enforcement reports were passed out and questions answered regarding Steele’s golf course and Carter’s junkyard.

Messmore, Listerman, McCormack, and Fehrman met with INDOT, ME, Strand, and Aurora for their first advisory meeting on the US 50 Corridor Study. Letters will go to businesses to fill out survey of their needs and issues with US 50.
County Planning Website will have a link on the progress on this US 50 study.
Binder of info in the office is available to view also.

Mitter noted he met with OKI and the VRUC issues are “going to get interesting.”
He said Sammy Gutzwiller sent a letter to Commissioners concerning VRUC and the Plan Commission. Apparently she was not complimentary toward the PC.

Lisa Lehner is representing the opponents of a cell tower on Losekamp Rd. She had some issue with getting the tech data packet from the Plan Office as the data is prepared at the Consultant’s office. She was asking about invoking the freedom of information act. They did get her copies and produced a tabbed binder later at her request so that it was easier to review the information. [Note: There is a certain amount of irony in this story. I suppose it’s good for an attorney who has blocked free flow of information regarding the sewer board and DCEDI with technicalities and legal loopholes to see how frustrating it can be when you are on the other side of the issue.]

Meeting adjourned 11:15 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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