Tuesday, March 28, 2006

27 March 2006 Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes

27 March 2006 Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes

Present: Mark Mitter, Chairman, Patrick deMaynadier, Jane Ohlmansiek, Tarry Feiss, Nick Held, Mike Hall, Jeff Hughes, Robert Laws, and Dennis Kraus, Jr.
Absent: NONE
Also Present: Arnie McGill, Attorney, Todd Listerman, County Engineer, and Mark McCormack, Enforcement Officer.

Following the executive session the board voted publicly and unanimously to hire Mark McCormack as the new planning director.
[NOTE: McCormack brings many talents to the position as well as continuity to the projects already in the works and the master plan. His web page design is possibly the most user-friendly in the county. Hopefully he can hire a new enforcement officer soon and the staff will be running at normal speed again soon.]

After 4 hours of discussion Kent's 260-lot plan for a re-zone is tabled until May meeting.

[NOTE: I have attended Planning meetings since July 1995 and this was the most thorough presentation by a developer and the most coherent by the opposition that I have ever seen. Board members also noted this at the end of the meeting. I was truly impressed.]

Zone change from Ag to Residential for Sun Valley at SR 48 and 148 for Tom Kent with owners Jerry and Penny Perfect Rollins, Perry Foster and Tracy Boone, William and Glenda Craig, and Douglas and Jacqueline Powell on 184.87 (now 187+ acres) acres in Manchester Township primarily.

Chairman Mitter gave an overview of procedures to the crowd of approximately 80 people. Mike Hall and Tarry Perfect Feiss stepped down for this item due to potential conflict of interests.

Mark McCormack showed slides of the area and illustrated points in the staff report.

Tom Kent presented the development information. He said that we'd hear reasons why you should allow this and a lot of emotion about why you shouldn't. He quoted former Plan Director, Travis Miller- saying we should base our decisions on science and not on emotion. He had many offers of support after the newspaper article on the sub'n, but he thanked them and told them he didn't need it, as he planned to present this on its facts.
Sun Valley is 95% in Manchester Township with a maximum of 260 single-family detached homes in 3 separate products from several different builders. Price range is in the $150-225K range averaging $170-180K. There is curb and gutter with sidewalks and greenspace around the perimeter. He plans a playground/ballfield area and a community pool and clubhouse for what might be called a Cincinnati subdivision.
There are 2 state highways there and they are within 2400 ft. of the sewer line (at Horizon Way) extended from Lawrenceburg. [NOTE: There was no mention of the size of this forced main sewer line all evening and it may be that the line has to go all the way back to Scenic to get to a main large enough to service this size of development. There was also no letter brought out from the county sewer district. - DCRSD, which has claimed all areas of the county NOT CURRENTLY served by a sewer as of the end of 2005/early 2006. DCRSD has not formally joined the SDRSD yet. Sewer service is critical to this being passed. Brett Fehrman of DCRSD was in the audience but did not speak on this issue.]

Kent addressed the points to be considered in a zone change request and noted that there is still no actual land use map for the final product of the master plan. He stated that there was SOME consensus that 48/148 might be a target for Residential development. He stated- part of this land is already in an R zone and it abuts an R zone too.
He said the current uses and conditions in the comp plan show that a mix of R uses surrounds it and he pointed to his exhibit board these uses between Lexington and Collier Ridge. He noted that it is a desirable use, because the infrastructure is there to support it. He though property values would be conserved because this was compatible with the surrounding homes. Kent went through the comp plans 8 general development guidelines with respect to transportation, infrastructure, utilities, all letters showing these were available, and noted that SR148 and 48 was targeted by DCRSD as a problem area needing sewers. This way the county gets sewers at the developer's expense, he said. The tax maps showed some qtr. acre lots in the area, the topography was suitable with some design, and soil maps were provided in this area that is not in the flood plain.
Kent went into detail pointing out the existing lot sizes in the area. It was noted that in Horizon Way the lots are smaller, but owners bought multiple lots to decrease the density on their own.
There is a variance of about 150 ft being requested, as the entrance distance to SR 148 is 650 ft rather than the required 800 ft per code. Kent went thru the criteria required to get a variance also. He produced a letter from Mannings and Meyers stating they do not oppose the sub'n and will work with Kent to removed their driveways and attach to the sub'n road so as to make that area safer. Other R uses won't be affected by the variance. Kent gave a mini-history of the Roy Miller property and how the panhandle lots were set up originally. He theed that in eth 80's that was how we did things, but he can see that piecemeal development produced no checks and balances on the safety issues of the roadway the way a sub'n plan does. The problem was caused by previous development and not by Kent's design.
He felt he met all the criteria; he will help protect rural area by having higher density and consuming less land, and thought it was fiscally responsible. The question tonight he said - Is this the right area for R zone?
Todd Listerman- cty engineer gave his professional opinion and analysis of the functional boundary issues of SR148. He concluded that the driveway combo made the intersection safer and that the 650 ft distance for the subÂ’n entrance was beyond the turn lane taper in the functional boundaries of the intersection. Kent has no other way to access the property. [NOTE: Has Kaiser Road been considered for one of the entrances?]Mitter asked Kent if the lot sizes weren't a bit out of character in this area. They went over the density pictures. Kent insisted that the surrounding area is high density. [NOTE: The actual drive-by view doesnÂ’t depict that- it's more moderate to low density. If a farmer looked at the are- he would call it high density. If a sub'n dweller looked at it, theyÂ’d call it moderate. If an urban dweller looked at it, they'd call it low density. The concept of density is relative- unless you look at what the master plan committee defined as the 3-4 levels o R density. Then it might be more OBJECTIVE.]

Kent said he was not leap-frogging- this land butts up against R zones. We have 3 R zones in the master plan and only one in the codebook still.

At 8:50 PM Public Comment began with two spokespersons and some additionals:
Irwin Diehl – 6118 SR 48 noted that he speaks for himself but many agree with him Moved there in 9/04 to live in rural area and be free from urban congestion. Thinks no variance should be granted, as the highest density should be held to the highest standard of the codes. He noted the variance prior to design was unusual and concluded that this was HIGH density R being requested. The tax records don’t show the multiple lots purchased in Horizon Way so the homes are less dense. Ag and low density R surround this. He requests they FAIRLY BALANCE the rights of the landowners with the community needs. He noted that Kent had stated they aren’t exactly sure what they are doing with the final plans. He stated there was no transition from R high density to the surrounding uses. Numerous residents are dismayed- many have become active to voice opposition- this affects the whole county. He passed out 480-500 petition signatures opposing the plan.

Chet Wolgamatt (sp?)- 6264 SR 48 asked for the Manning and Meyer letters to be read out loud (Mitter did) and then presented a slide show of points. The slides described and refuted the following issues: Texas Gas line beneath the 2 entrances, traffic volume at least 1000 vpd per INDOT and traffic study, 800 ft is the only safe way to do the entrances per the unambiguous code, had concerns with highway engineer's objectivity as he was overheard at tech review meeting talking about negotiating and purchasing land from Kent in Carlee Acres Deed book 154 p 10-12 recorded March 2, 2006. He noted the letter on the intersection analysis was dated March13, 2006. [NOTE: This was thoroughly questioned and examined later in the meeting by the plan commission. See end of notes]Wolgamatt went on talk about driveways and safety issues, and that the burden of proof is on the developer to prove that it's not substantially adverse. Use of all adjacent land will be affected by what is next door. Granting variances every time to make a development passable negates the ordinance. "To deny this is the only fair, proper, logical, definable position." Slide showing a 650 psi gas pipe leak in an isolated are of New Mexico and the resulting disaster was included. Lengthy description of the depth of the Texas Gas pipe (that runs from Gulf of Mexico to Michigan) and the safety issues, dirt cover allowed and grade of the entrances was depicted. Mike Hall provided the professional survey of the pipe issues at Wolgamatt's expense. (thus he stepped down from the board for this). Heavy construction vehicles and loaded buses were a concern over this pipe.
In the FSG study and IN home averaging $225K or more pays its way in taxes. In this development 260 homes of less than that price will create a tax liability to be absorbed by the taxpayers of the county. Residential uses cost $1.18 per $1 tax paid and higher density R cost $1.45 per $1 tax paid. It's the "worst cost to benefit ratio of any cty land use."
Roy and Marie Miller had deed covenant restrictions on parts of the acreage in this development noting there shall be only one residence and it's auxiliary building on this lot. These are recorded covenants - please respect them.
This will drastically alter the economic value of a community. The applicant knows this as he visited each of the adjoiners and apologetically attempted to present this. This testifies to the negative impact this will have. A survey of 38 homes adjoining in the area show 2 homes on 1-2 acres, 5 on 2-5 acres, 14 on 5-10 acres, 4 on 10-20 acres, and 5 on > 20 acres. Average is upwards of 3 acres. “I will buy a steak for anyone who can find me a .25 acre lit here.”
We need more than one R zone in our codes- even the master plan said this. "There is nothing fair about destroying one community just to create another."Dearborn Cty has far more $100-200K homes than the rest of the state. This month there were 177 R properties on the market in the county in the $100-200 range. There is no present housing necessity for this type of home.
He ended with a detailed list summarizing his reasons for denial.

[NOTE: There was discussion by residents afterwards about commissioners overturning an unfavorable recommendation and granting this anyway. It should be noted that with the amount of evidence presented in this hearing, the county could be taken to court with a writ of certiorari should the commissioners fail to adequately verify all the steps for a zone change. ItÂ’s not a win if the developer ends up stalled in court.]

Brian Groh - concerned with increasing traffic on SR48, concerned with cty engineer weighing in on an issue where he has had negotiations with the contractor. Concerned with what's reasonable development and what is not. Didn't pay much attention to county gov't, but I am now.
Tim Connelly, Sue Dausch, and Cari Baylor had nothing further to add.
Carol Lane- Manchester Trustee- for 25 years we're mostly Ag- not a lot of businesses. Volunteer fire and EMS, small ball park and athletic facilities, not sure school can handle this either. Costs will increase.

Ralph Thompson -congratulated Mark McCormack on being named Director and complimented the board for hiring him. Noted as a member of master plan adv board the disparity in the zoning ordinances with only one R zone. Hoped the board would take into account that the residents themselves have chosen low density.

Marguerite Cowans- lives on 30 acres on Platt Rd for 16 years. Moved away from Cincinnati and drives an hour a day to work. Talked about beauty, peace and tranquility. Wished she could have raised all her kids here, not just the last one. Noted her reasons were more emotional, she likes not having to lock doors to take a walk, not enough jobs here to support these people, cheapest homes wonÂ’t necessarily bring in the kind of people you are hoping for. This is nothing but a money making project for him he could put less homes here.
Eric Watkins reject this as PROPOSED and not as DISCUSSED. Before I bought property here, I had a national chain of appraisers value the property. They noted that a high density sub'n WOULD IMPACT my value. Said he didn't get a letter of notification and he is an adjoiner. As an engineer himself he is flabbergasted at how this intersection could be safer with all this added to it.
Mike Livingston- Will the board refer this conflict of interest to the prosecutor (referring to Listerman)? Mitter said they would address that issue later in the evening.

At 10 PM Public discussion ended.

Tom Kent's rebuttal addressed first the timeline of ListermanÂ’s purchase of the land from him. He also noted that he was not hiding anything- they discussed it in public. Didn't want this hanging over his head so turn it over if you have to.
Kent elaborated on Texas Gas Line-there is also one in Rookwood estates off Tower road. He referenced the TEC Traffic Impact Study and Ed Williams comments as well as Listermans. He read the letter from South Dearborn schools, which detailed why they could take the students. He stated that the question is whether or not this is suitable for R- for high density R?

Todd Listerman -Cty Engineer- understands the people's concerns. Mitter noted that with an appearance of impropriety, we have to take that seriously. Listerman stated he was hired in mid Aug 2005. Commissioners wanted him to live in the county. He currently travels an hour each way and lives in Seymour. First duty was to check signage at Carlee Acres and saw the sub'n lots. He asked Kent if Lot 8 was sold- Kent said not yet. Listerman said to consider it sold. He then went to get financing and have his family check it out. His son will be swimming at IUPUI and has an academic scholarship there. He wanted good access to interstate to get to Indy to see him compete. They wanted a rural location. Ewbank Title handled the purchase. Purchase actually was completed in March. Patrick deMaynadier asked if he paid fair market value? Answer- YES. Mitter- Did he ask you to skew this? NO.

Chet Wolgamatt made sure they understood he questioned OBJECTIVITY not conflict of interest. Board said yes- but others asked about prosecutor so they wanted to clear it all up. Mitter noted we have to maintain the public trust- if the employee did nothing wrong , this should be covered too. People need to have confidence in our decisions.

The board discussed the pros and cons. Main issue was the variance and if and when it should be looked into. The other big sticking point was the density in relation to the area. An actual suggestion was made to get to the 3 acre average. (This would yield about 60+ homes.)Patrick de Maynadier complimented both sides on their diligence and that it made the boardÂ’s job easier. Said this was the best heÂ’d seen yet. Board members concurred.
Buffer was also an issue.

Kent went back and forth on whether he wanted to change the density. Finally he asked to have it tabled so he could look into that in detail. DeMaynadier motioned and Ohlmansiek 2nd to table till May 22 meeting. All ayes to table.

Board decided to schedule a working session at 7 PM on Monday April 17th to discuss the proposed changes to the zoning and subÂ’n ordinance due to the lateness of the hour.

Board decided to allow Mitter to negotiate with commissioners and council to coordinate the GIS dept set up.

McCormack noted that US 50 study with Strand is proceeding with business survey mailers going out. Adv Board is meeting May 8 or 10 to take a bus tour along the corridor. By May 2 the current conditions report will be available in draft form from ME (the consultant doing the land uses components on US 50)

Meeting adjourned at 11:55 PM
Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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