Tuesday, May 23, 2006

22 May 2006 Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes

22 May 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.
Also Present: Arnie McGill, Attorney, Mark McCormack, Enforcement Officer, and Todd Listerman, County Engineer and Transportation Director

Register Publications covered this meeting.

Administrative Items covered first due to two PC members stepping down for the main business of the meeting to follow:

1. OKI draft versions of strategic policies and plans were covered in a meeting with McCormack, Feiss, Bryan Messmore, and OKI Copies in PC member’s packets.
2. Working session 7 PM Wed May 31 to discuss parent tract that commissioners sent back for changes, Regional sewer district, and St. Leon requiring some help with planning.
3. US 50 existing conditions draft and Gateway study documenting every access point on US 50 in the county is on INDOT site and PC website.
4. Enforcement officer will be selected in the next few days- references are being checked.


[NOTE: While the commissioners are pushing for changes in parent tract language in the zoning ordinance that would essentially allow for piecemeal development with potential drainage and infrastructure issues, the PC is being tied up discussing that instead of working on one of the main zoning ordinance changes proposed in the comprehensive plan. Perhaps multiple R zones need to be added to Wed May 31 agenda at the working session.]

Zone change from Ag to R for single-family development on SR48 at 148 on 184.87b acres in Manchester Township. Applicant is Tom Kent- Owners have changed. They are now Boones, Craigs, Powells, and Busses. Rollins has dropped out.
FEISS AND HALL stepped down for this item due to possible conflicts of interest.

The room was full for this item- approximately 50-60 residents.

McCormack gave the overview of changes in the proposed development- the access is single now and will utilize a boulevard style entrance. The proposed 265 units have dropped to what the applicant states in less than 180 at 1.07 units per acre or .933 acres per unit. Street configuration internally is nearly the same. They reduced cul-de-sac to meet ordinance. Craig driveway can move at applicant expense or if not a variance for the entrance might be required. County engineer to give design possibilities to applicant for entrance. New adjoiners were notified due to redesign. Tech review was moved to May meeting, with historical b/u as the reason to allow.

Tom Kent presented two main ideas that MUST happen for his “moderate density” plan to work:
1. The boulevard style entrance has to be approved- with essentially two lanes in and two out.
2. Clustering for part of the development to allow for 3 different products leading to more buffer and more greenspace.

He provided an updated traffic study and also was clear that he wasn’t proposing 180 single acre lots- but a sum total of moderate density as the ENTIRE project is considered.

DeMaynadier asked for Kent’s definition of moderate density. Book says 1-3 acres. Kent said closer to the 1 acre.
DeMaynadier- said that was just on the other side of the line for high-density parameters. He also asked if the purchase of the land was contingent on the proposal being accepted. Kent affirmed that was the case. DeMaynadier noted that the purchase price COULD be changed to reflect whatever the potential for development allowed.

Kent said he planned a homeowners association to handle the ballfields, but there would be no pool in this design. Greenspace and buffers would be handled by covenants on larger exterior lots rather than by HOA. Busse and Kent will share fencing as per township rules. More buffering would be put in some areas with white pines – double rows.
Kent wants to offer a mix of affordable and higher priced homes. Affordable as defined in the comp plan.

Listerman noted that the boulevard was the minimum requirement for a single entrance on this plan. Right turn lanes will be determined at primary approval stage. He also discussed the site distance options with the Craig driveway.

At 8 PM Public input began.

Chet Wolgamot- first Kent said 260 weren’t feasible- now he’s saying 165. We won’t know what’s really feasible… Right now we’re skating on the edge of moderate density.
There needs to be a buffer between rural residential and this contrasting development. Why buffer so much against the farm fields? Do we worry more about field mice than about existing homes? (Mitter stopped him at this point to remind him not to make a joke of the board. Wolgamot apologized for the emotional response. Mitter explained that farm uses were often incompatible with residential- that’s why the farm buffer was important.)
Wolgamot acknowledged that we need R even if doesn’t pay for itself. He went on to say that quality of life in their area will be degraded by this density- “we are not Bright or HVL.” This development would be a toehold so that the next farm sells and so on and we become another Bright. Developers can maximize THEIR profit in this “affordable” price range. The PC has to allow for development that benefits the county. We showed at the last meeting 170 homes available in this price range here. There are 23 home on 5-20 acres around this The average lot size is well above 3 acres.
Current conditions and character- How can this be in character with existing homes?
Most desirable use for the land- This is a new toehold of a new era different from anything along SR48 corridor.
Conservation of property values throughout the jurisdiction- My value will go down because of this. We have 500 people (petition) who understand this concept of value- we hope you do too!
Responsible development- Why allow more and moor minimum value homes that are not needed- is that responsible. Think of how hard people worked going door to door to get 500 signatures- this should give you some idea of how we feel.
We feel better about these changes coming in. We didn’t come here to be patted on the back about our good presentation like last time- we want to be heard! “We need rich people too.”
"This board approved a zone change in Bright (Maxwell’s Hidden Acres on Sneakville) and I went to my first commissioner meeting." The Bright Fire Dept and EMS were turned down – because we have no money- they were given a letter of support to get the money elsewhere. AND IN THE NEXT BREATH they added 300 more homes! (by approving the zone change)
Mitter encouraged Chet Wolgamot to present the rest of his ideas, but Wolgamot thought they might be more emotion than fact. He senses an atmosphere of indifference in the politicians. He did add that we just had a primary election and changed commissioner candidates. He said that if 300 Bright people and 500 in this area don’t like an idea, then something is wrong!

Mitter noted it was frustrating on the PC side of the table too.

Patrick deMaynadier explained the judicial nature of the PC – where they consider facts and the POLITICAL nature of commissioners where the petitions have more effect. Commissioners can look at petitions as a reason to accept or deny. PC cannot.Mitter noted that PC goes to great lengths to listen.

Irwin Diehl- Said he wasn’t active politically for a long time but he is AWAKE now. He has the impression that the county commissioners are not as open as they could be- agendas are not done a week in advance and yet citizens have to sign up a week ahead if they wish to speak on and issue- a catch 22 situation.

Mitter commented that he was on the other side 10-11 years ago and was told by the PC to shut up and sit down. So he got involved, went to the extreme, and ran for office even- “What was I thinking?” (Laughter)

Diehl thanked Kent for the changes so far. He doesn’t like the density being in the front along his and Wolgamot’s and Horizon Way properties. He still thinks there is not adequate transition between these property uses.

Dennis Sparks- lives near the Y- has 3 kids- this would at least double the enrollment at Manchester elementary. Most people move out here to live in a rural environment. You can’t compare Bright to Manchester.
The sewer line has to go back to near Ludlow Hill Park and bring a new or larger one out.

Dorothy Watkins- Horizon Way – We live on 11 acres of AG zoned land. What buffer do we have? (She wasn’t notified due to assessor’s office address errors.) This cul-de-sac is right up against my Ag land. She also wanted shorter meetings. Mitter commented that they are trying to hear everyone- “this is an endurance test.” (Laughter)

Brian Groh- read a prepared statement including these comments: People had to take time from their family and jobs to be here. People are shocked by the disrespect to the community. There are many people who agree- thousands went to the polls to vote for Ralph Thompson. People are ANGRY- there seems to be no reasonable limits, they have to take time away from busy lives to take care of this, and they are connected as never before, by email and Internet now! Do you respect the citizens enough to listen to what we are saying?

Carrie Baylor – Horizon Way- These homes here are $300,000 and up. 14 homes adjacent to this are on 5-10 acres. How can this possibly meet criteria #4 for a zone change? (property values)
Tom Kent is asking you to approve a vision- not a plan. If you are judicial as Patrick said- how can you decide on a vision? My neighbors have horses. The sewer letter says they are SEEKING TO PROVIDE- it is NOT there yet! I liked 2 entrances- now we are back to one and no definition of it- a very rubbery understanding.

At 9 PM Public comment ended.

Kent spoke about leadership creating a comp plan and protecting the rural look. He said that means we will leave some untouched and take other land. 500 petitions are one thing. 48,000 people in this county have spoken through the comp plan.
He plans green space and apologized to some of the residents he hadn’t spoken to yet.
“If we have criteria that we have to MATCH the area beside us, then why have a comp plan?” He believes that moderate density is in the 3 subdivisions around this.
Mitter asked about buffering the Watkins property. Kent showed a ravine there and said no building would occur between about 200-300 ft of that property line.
A discussion occurred on tax parcels vs. lot divisions. Wolgamot finally explained how the small parcels on one owner’s land occurred due to section lines and taxing rules.

Mitter noted this has to be decided on the worst-case scenario- because there is no concept plan submitted.

Plan commission members discussed:

De Maynadier- With no concept plan-= we have to use worst-case scenario.
In reference to the tax lot thing- zone requirement doesn’t say current LOT size the code says “current buildings and structures.”- so tax lot sizes are not a deciding factor.
I’m not averse to R- but density IS an issue here.
Tom Kent is a good businessman- if we decide X lots, then he will only pay Y price for this land.
Cluster would work here- but it depends on how much is in the cluster.
Boulevard entrance is a good OPTION.
I see 60-90 units maybe here.
I don’t see this plan as being that different from the first one.
Hughes – With Ag vs. R- I think this should be R.
Law- I wish the lots were in the plan- with no plan- I have problems with that. Likes the boulevard solution for two entrances and thinks this should be R.
Ohlmansiek- In the master plan we showed this are as potentially for growth and R. I like clusters and greenspace. I wish we had lot sizes on this map! I don’t have an actual number in my mind- I’d like to see a picture of it.
Held- Would be appropriate for R here with clusters, greenspace and buffers. Density issue.
Kraus, Jr. – Comp plan says where infrastructure is in place. This is on a state road. Relatively close to Aurora and Law-bg. We’re not compromising the residential of the county- it’s not like it’s on West County Line.

DeMaynadier noted three options- Favorable- if we can add written commitments or qualifications, Unfavorable, or Unfav and send a signal to come back with a design.

Mitter- It doesn’t meet criteria #2 for current conditions and character and it doesn’t meet #4 for conservation of property values. This must be viewed by ordinance in the worst light (because of no concept plan submission)
If we do R they can have carte blanche to do anything that R allows in the ordinance – apt’s and condos even. The topography is not conducive to all of R. This is not responsible growth and development to do just R.

Following this there were 5 or more attempts to get unfavorable (4-3 vote- 3 nays to UNFAVORABLE were Laws, Hughes, Kraus, Jr.)
It takes 5 to have a majority of the board (total of 9 members)Favorable with 60 units max- failed also due to lack of 2nd.
Favorable with no restrictions failed
UNFAVORABLE and adding sewer line unavailability failed also.

Board was deadlocked and so the matter proceeds to the commissioners with NO RECOMMENDATION.

[NOTE: At no time in this did Kent ask to have this tabled so he could draw up a concept plan. This indicates that he is comfortable going to the commissioners with whatever recommendation he got- even none. There is only one reason that would be the case – if the Commissioners plan to pass it. Potentially, it would seem that there is ample evidence in the record of this meeting that if the commissioners do not specify I fairly low density in their approval, the residents would have cause to seek legal remedy.
It would also seem that if and when Kent returns for primary approval, he could demonstrate an understanding of the surrounding parcels by drawing a plan that truly enhances that community and doesn’t detract from it.]

Meeting adjourned 10:10 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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