Wednesday, June 14, 2006


13 June 2006 Dearborn County BZA Meeting Notes


Present: Jim Deaton, Chairman, Mike Hall, and Jane Ohlmansiek
Also Present: Mark McCormack, Planning Director, and Arnie McGill, Att’y
Absent: Jake Hoog and Pat Baker

In approving the minutes from the March and May meetings the attorneys for the cell tower asked to have them further revised and possibly reopen the case. The attorney for the opponents (Lehner) objected, complaining that this was not on the agenda [NOTE: Not being on the agenda doesn’t seem to be an issue with Lehner at other times with other boards] and the appeal period had passed. [NOTE:There seemed to be some issue with filing appeals when minutes were unavailable.] Following arguments on both sides the board, with the BZA attorney’s advice, approved the minutes and informed the cell tower attorney and clients that they could appeal the decision or reapply.

New Business:

1. The dimensional variance for 150 ft of road frontage for owner Anthony Hon on 20 acres of Ag land in Kelso Township on Werner Lane off Bittner Road was approved. Neighbors were generally OK with the idea as long as the easement did not take any of their land. The approval hinged on providing a 50 ft easement all the way back and a maintenance agreement being drawn up for Werner Lane with all the users of the lane.
Ohlmansiek motioned, Hall 2nd. Passed.

2. Tom Blondell of Woods Lamping and Lehner withdrew the application for Tim Kramer and owners for a conditional use of a private recreational facility for Jacobs Conservation Group, LLC on Jacobs Road in Kelso Township.
Deaton noted they couldn’t consider the application if a violation existed and Mark Mitter, Becky Mitter, Jackie Kraus, Chris McCann, and myself all gave testimony that the group is in violation and has been for a number of months.
Blondell objected to the public being able to give information to the BZA without notice. Deaton explained that the BZA routinely receives complaints like that and they then investigate. No decision is rendered without notice to the property owners. The rest of this discussion was actually covered under Administrative at the end of the meeting:
Jacobs Conservation application noted they have 10 members- but the pictures from the site show at least 20 ATVs at times. Large parties, 4 campers, bonfires close to a neighboring home, noise, dust, late night ATV activities, trespass and property damage, and generally an inability to peacefully co-exist with the adjoining neighbors seem to be the issues.
Blondell at one point got up and turned off the Planning Dept. computer screen. (Mitter had returned to the slide that focused on the definition of recreational use in answer to Blondell’s question regarding that definition.) The Planning Director had to turn it back on and informed him that it belonged to the county. There appeared to be an interchange going on between them as the meeting proceeded.
Blondell tried to make a case for pre-existing grandfathered use and Kramer stated there were only two large parties- graduation and Memorial Day. This was refuted as pictures of the 20 ATVs were circulated to news people several weeks prior to grad and Memorial Day times.
Blondell questioned the road quality opinions. Mitter reminded the board that he was a county councilman, who reviews road budgets and plans, served on the comp plan, and also was chairman of the Plan Commission. He said he was qualified to address road matters in the county.
Blondell and Kramer noted they have 60 petitions supporting their activities. Mitter countered with the statement that having 60 petitions is like getting a DUI and having your buddies stand before the judge saying you’re a good guy. It’s not relevant.
The board asked McCormack to investigate further- as they are already about 2 months into enforcement proceedings.
Mitter wanted action to be taken more quickly. It was noted that to cure the violation is simple- nothing needs to be unbuilt – they just have to stop the activity.
McCormack and the enforcement officer will proceed with enforcement, per the BZA’s request.

3. Archie Crouch of The Survey Co- representing The Dearborn Realty Company (The Country Club) received approval for a conditional use for 6 duplexes (cabins for weekly rental to members and their families) on 114 acres of Ag land in Lawrenceburg Township. The adjoining property owners were OK with this as long as it is for weekly rentals and no expansions unless they come back to the BZA. Hall motioned and Ohlmansiek 2nd. Approved.

The Jacobs Conservation, LLC enforcement issues - See notes above under #2.

The new county enforcement officer is also a planner- she starts Monday. Mark McCormack gave her high marks for organization and experience as well. Her name is Catherine Rademacher.

McCormack also updated the board on the US 50 studies and preliminary work on the 2007 budget.

Meeting adjourned at 10 PM.

[NOTE: BZA meetings are usually a matter of thoughtfully hearing opposing viewpoints and sifting through citizen’s issues to fairly resolve conflicting land use problems. At tonight’s meeting it was more like a three ring circus at times. Three lawyers were present (in addition to the BZA attorney.) Watching them spar with each other and the board and argue points in a manner more appropriate for a courtroom, reminded me that negotiating and working things out with neighbors is better handled by the “civilians” on the board. Well- placed questions and truthful answers usually point to an equitable solution for the parties involved. At one point I found myself wishing the board could swear people (and their lawyers) in before hearing them.
I had to smile as I listened to a certain lawyer argue for public notice, as this same lawyer has clearly circumvented that process on numerous occasions.
It is apparent that as the county grows and more people LIVE here, we will have to curb rude behavior more often. It is also apparent that certain uses are by their nature a nuisance. Going to someone else’s back yard to recreate with ATVs does not make it less of a problem- it only transfers it from your neighborhood to someone else’s. We need to be more conscious of - and courteous to - our neighbors.]

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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