Wednesday, June 21, 2006

20 June 2006 Dearborn County Commissioners Meeting Notes

20 June 2006 Dearborn County Commissioners Meeting Notes

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

A uniformed county police officer was present.
Register Publications also covered the meeting.
The meeting room was full- approximately 60 people present.

[NOTE: Both candidates for D-3 County Commissioner were present, cordial, and seated next to each other: Ralph Thompson-Republican and the new candidate put up by the Democrat Caucus last week – Frank Linkmeyer.]

1. Chris McHenry for Dearborn County Historical Society – requested consideration for $10,ooo in the 2007 budget, as usual.

2. County Farm- Mike Heffelmire- was told to get a survey to mark off the shooting range for the Boy Scouts on the farm so as to keep other park uses away from that area. Lease was OK’d for Scouts and 4H with that provision. Heffelmire also told commissioners that the Boy Scouts had a $10,000 grant from the Dearborn Foundation. They used all but $157 and RETURNED THAT TO THE FOUNDATION. Stated this to show this was the only time the foundation had money back and attested to their honesty.
Later at 7PM Steve Doll- Forester- opened 3 bids for county timber on 278 trees (93 of them white ash as they are trying to harvest ahead of the white ash bore.) Ray Benham was $21,000, E&H Logging for $24,000, and John Cooley (couldn’t hear and spelling?) $18,500. Tabled for 1 month to look over, as the income seemed low to the commissioners.

3. SEIMAC (Media Arts Council with Leroy McCluskey and Dave Abner)- requested $7500 in startup money and equipment money to be funneled through HHH (Historic Hoosier Hills) as their status as a non-profit apparently works better that way. Lengthy presentation on audio and visual options they will try to put out for county residents to use. OK’s to go to Council for 2007 budget consideration or one time grant.
[NOTE: This may be hard for Council to justify, as we are short on funds for basics like roads and sewers, etc.]

4. Weights and Measures- Jeff Smith- gave annual report and 2007 budget. Requesting a truck AGAIN. His own has 230,000 miles on it. Mentioned he may be able to go full time. Questions on who insures him and his truck. Seems that the county currently treats him as an outside contractor.

5. Transportation and Engineering- Todd Listerman-
Freightliner approved for 2 chassis for $113,252
Kaffenberger only bidder- approved for dump beds, spreader boxes, and plows for $60,370 for two.


Mark McCormack- Planning Director- gave the overview of the county Plan Commission meeting and the 4 motions that failed. He also explained the options open to the commissioners to approve, deny, or let sit for 90 days at which point it would be effectively denied if they didn’t act. The decision was certified on May 31, 2006- so the 90 days starts from that point in time.
He noted there was no concept development plan submitted with the final presentation in May and that Kent stated he would make it moderate density at about 1.07 lots per acre average. [NOTE: This is actually on the borderline of being high density at less than an acre per lot]
The plan went from 265 to 180 units. They want to cluster.
The commissioners have to consider the worst-case scenario of highest density if they rezone without a concept development plan.
Sewers will be provided by a partnership of DCRSD, SDRSD, and Lawrenceburg. A R turn lane is recommended.
The 5 criteria for a zone change were posted at the end of the PowerPoint.

Residents speaking in opposition: (At this meeting there were none speaking publicly to support the proposal except for Tom Kent, the developer)

Dennis Sparks- Concerned with education at South Dearborn and especially the potential doubling of enrollment at Manchester Elementary. The 500 petitioners represent practically everyone on 48 up to Negangard’s Corner. Read the Comp Plan and doesn’t think that they fit with #2. These are not MODERATE density- many homes are on large acres- like 8 acres. Section 520 of the code states you have to view this as worst-case scenario – condos even. You should not do this without a VISUAL plan- this will affect our property values. Sent an email to the 3 commissioners and apologized for his tone- but THIS IS MY HOME! The infrastructure is not there YET.

Irwin Diehl- reminded them that there is not a formal commitment from Kent on the actual density. By removing the detailed site map in May- Kent removed the commitment. We will have a serene rural residential area succumbing to high density. He is using the highest end of moderate density across the board. Kent is the front person for the PERFECT PLAN– and if this goes through and they want to make more profit- they will take it over from him.
People’s single biggest investment is their home. They borrow against it to finance college and other things for their family. There is a real and a subjective value to this “nest egg” that we call home. When you choose rural living that is the quality of life you desire.
Sheriff Lusby campaigned saying that increased density leads to increased crime and increased traffic and accidents.
When you put rats in a cage and it becomes crowded they either become depressed and withdrawn or get aggressive. There are 22 adjoiners who oppose this and 4-5 who want it. There are 387 acres opposed and 174 acres who want it.
Please consider and apply the criteria in the zoning code and comp plan to deny this. We are generally not anti development- we support reasonable- low-density plans that would not burden the community.

Johnny Schott- Has loved DC for 50 years and moved home and two businesses here. I set out to buy an EXISTING home so as not to contribute to urbanization here. People do NOT come here for density- they have that in Ohio. Money is not the only value we have- peace, quiet, and tranquility are also valued. Dearborn County desperately needs to correct the oversight and create levels of residential zoning. Deny this until we get that commitment or those levels in place.

Eric Watkins- moved here a year ago- to be a long term resident. Treat this as worst-case scenario. His relocation company even noted that they couldn’t approve his home unless it was among similar homes because of the value issues. This does not meet the burden of proof needed for the zone change.

Brian Groh – Noted again the large number of residents opposed. (the room was full)Citizens took time to come and have their voices heard and to obtain 500 petitions. They are angry because this is grossly out of character. There are issues with SR48 and US 50 traffic that are not resolved yet. Many people do not agree that you should be able to do anything you want with your property. Try to find a reasonable solution for both sides. MANY PEOPLE FEEL THAT THE MAJORITY OF YOU ARE SO PRO-DEVELOPMENT THAT YOU WILL ALLOW THIS ANYWAY. In their eyes the only way to fix this is to vote you out. Those of us here hope you can fix this and we can say you did it right.

Chet Wolgamotgave a clear depiction using the county plat map books of the 6 square miles surrounding the development. He showed no ¼ or ½ acre lots. He showed a small amount of 1-3 acre lots. He showed how some small lots were combined to one owner to make a large lot site. Using county records at the assessor’s office he showed that virtually all the 6 square miles is greater than 3-acre home sites.
“We are all agonizingly familiar with section 540 of the code.” He went on to address each criterion for a zone change in that section.
This is the worst cost to benefit rate of any land use.
The stark contrast between rural and suburban uses cannot be overstated.
How can you transition to 99% low density?
There is nothing fair is deciding to put an urban subdivision here.
The county has a SURPLUS of homes in the 150-200K range as referenced in the comp plan.
There is NO community need- this price range is pursued by developers because it is of max. profit to them- not to the community.
There are as of yesterday- 170 residential properties on the market in the county. Of these 39 are in L-bg, 60 in South Dearborn, and 70 in Sunman Dearborn.
The Plan Commission member in May said this was out of character with the current conditions. Judicial review would show that this is in violation of this regulation- we believe.
The most desirable use would be with the existing community. To conserve property values you cannot go with the worst-case scenario- even PC agreed.
How can trading on existing owners’ rights be responsible growth?
This should not be based on the developer’s profitability. Be responsible- the 500 supporters are real people.
Kent has minimal risk- tell him no- he will come back again with a better plan- both beneficial and compatible with the community. We do not want the land to lay fallow- but to be beneficial- 50-80 homes would be our plan.

Jerry Watts – What is the growth potential for this? We lost the 2nd largest employer- Seagrams…

TOM KENT- responded to issues. This will be moderate density, SD schools wants students- per Tom Book. I didn’t show property lines because it is not required.
Kent put up tax maps showing tax lots. He said the comp plan promotes safe and affordable housing. He wants 3 products in this development in ranges from $150 -$230K.
Development should occur where infrastructure is- and this is 2400 ft from a sewer. [NOTE: That sewer line is not big enough to serve this- they will have to lay another one and go much further back into Lawrenceburg to the larger main.]
We are on 2 state highways.
Wish we had a land use map telling us where to develop. There was some consensus at fall master plan land use workshop that this are should be R. I live out here not every house here is a $400,000 house.
500 petitioners vs. 48,000 county residents as represented by the comp plan.

FOX asked Kent to go on the record:
No condos?- Kent agreed – none.
1-3 acres?- Kent said yes- but he will cluster.
Buffers?- Kent plans on it.
Lowest price home?- Kent- $150,000.

Chet Wolgamot: rebutted as he said he was accused of lying. Kent can exaggerate as in saying he has 48,000 people and somehow none of them are here. Kent feels the plan will pass on merit alone. He’s using the Herman Goering approach- if you lie long enough people will believe.
Is a buffer one tree or 20 ft?
When PC requested moderate diversity- he did not meet the bare minimum. He plays you people and this gets old.
Wolgamot was stopped at this point to address the board.
He went on: We have to defend ourselves. He put up the density slide again- this is the key to the whole thing.

Chris Mueller- reminded the board that the price of the home is not always the issue. The same as the size is not. Small homes can have good quality- but most people have a picture of a $150,000 home in mind. Also asked if the price included the lot. This was not answered.

At 8:50 PM the Public comment was closed, though Benning had tried to close it earlier.

There was a legal opinion from McGill on 36-7-4-6.15 that questioned the ability of the COMMISSIONERS to obtain written commitments for a zone change.

Benning was in a hurry to make a motion for a favorable approval and READ but did NOT state how the 5 criteria were met for a zone change.
THERE WAS NO 2nd to that motion.
Motion failed.
There was no other motion- Fox nodded no when asked if he had another one.

[NOTE: Tonight I was reminded of a discussion I had with Rick Fox just hours before he was elected two years ago. He talked about his philosophy of development. Tonight it seemed that he was staying true to his previously stated, personally held, ideals.]

If there is no further action by the end of 90 days from May 31st this zone change will be denied.

[NOTE: After the meeting I questioned Ewbank, the attorney, as to what a failed motion meant. He said it is still alive for 90 days from May 31st. They could act on it, though he didn’t think they would. I asked if they would announce it- he said he’d hoped they would and that it had to be part of the official agenda to be considered. Official agendas are often not available till the day of or day before the meeting though.]

Claims and minutes were approved.

Contract as before with DCEDI for professional services for economic development was signed.
There was no report from Lobbyist John Frick & Associates.
Sonya Henry was appointed to SIEOC board to fill a vacancy.

Benning brought up the groundbreaking ceremony at the library expansion on Tues at 4PM per Sally Stenger. Wondered what they would do with their parking lot now. (County leases this to handle overflow parking) Ewbank thought lease might be a 30 day termination type though he hasn’t seen one yet. Messmore to investigate.
[NOTE: County will be in trouble without that lot- there are times when there is no parking available on Mary or High Street even now. County courthouse may need to build a parking area or utilize the I&M lot.

Ewbank noted in addition to survey work on county farm they are locating the pauper graves and marking the area. He also noted same suits as last meeting still in process.

Meeting adjourned around 9:30 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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