Wednesday, July 19, 2006

18 July 2006 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

18 July 2006 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes
PUBLIC RE-HEARING on TOM KENT’S Sun Valley Sub’n at Sr48 & 148 is item number 5.

Present: Hughes, President, Benning, and Fox
Also present: Pickens, Auditor, and Messmore, Administrator.
ABSENT: Ewbank, Attorney. Arnie McGill, Planning and Zoning Attorney sat in Ewbank’s place.

A uniformed police officer was also present and Benning finally got to use him.
Register Publications covered this meeting.

Commissioner candidates Ralph Thompson and Frank Linkmeyer were also in attendance.

1. Mark Seiler presented the line-striping contract for $81,319.35 which was approved.

2. Mike and Stephanie Mulcahey of Wood’s Edge Estates Sub’n off North Hogan Road presented complaints on their road access and the bonding for their street. Developer Jeff Martin was present and explained delays as being due to his recent surgery. Gravel road has issues, ditched are too deep, rip rap and stone piles placement issues, mail, busses, and newspapers are NOT delivered on the street anymore. Soil and Water- Jennifer Hughes also present verifying on-going issues with drainage also. Performance bond may be used to complete work. Road is ultimately to be paved, but waiting to sell lots and have construction equipment out. Bond expires May 2007.
Highway Dept to check and report back. [NOTE: Planning office should be checked also to see what is in their file on this development.]

3. Park Board – Lou Broghamer and Mike Heffelmire- reported on status of county farm- final decision tonight was to hold on the Youth- Boy Scout agreement and survey the entire farm to set aside YES Home with access easement, Animal Control area, Boy Scouts, Highway garage, and the park board remainder. Cemeteries will also be set aside.
Park Board is keeping County farm board as a subcommittee to keep the work intact there.
Park Board is also planning to “give away” the Dillsboro Park and the 3-acre Bright Park to revert back to county if no longer kept as park uses. Bright to go to Fire Dept. and Dillsboro to go to the town. Commissioners approved.
Ewbank is attorney for park board also- so he will look out for county’s interests per Park Board.
County Farm cited as the largest of only 3 left in the state.- 364 acres. Heffelmire was clear that they wanted it to stay as a park area and farm- no condos, senior housing etc.
He said it may end up being the only place in 100 years that people will see any wildlife around here.
Gladys Russell Park cited as the crown jewel ultimately in county park system- with new water lines etc.

4. Richard Bower- presented the timber sale for county farm again- it was approved for E&H Logging at $24,000.

FIVE MINUTE RECESS- actually 15 minutes. (7:15 PM)

5. PUBLIC HEARING- to Rehear Tom Kent zone change.
No reason was given for rehearing this case.
Mark McCormack presented the case- with same findings as the previous hearing. Pictures of the area showed few houses in surrounding directions along roadway.
Fox noted that almost all the PC saw it as R- they just couldn’t see the buffers and greenspace.
McCormack added that there were density issues also at the PC
. They had 3 motions for unfav. And 2 for fav. – None passed.

Tom Kent states there will be approximately 180 units with average of 1800 square feet and $190,000 average price. He passed out samples and showed pictures of the proposed home designs. Stated there will be a 10-year buildout. There will be 100-150 ft minimum buffer around the entire piece. Some is wooded already. Others will have a 6 ft wide earth berm with double row of white pines. Stated this was his 4th hearing (2 at PC and 2 here) and he was tired of hearing himself talk too.
Kent thinks this fits the surroundings – not the highest priced homes, but there will be some in the $170 range and some in the $250 range also.
He ended saying the only question is: Is this area appropriate for R use?
[NOTE: We are back to the same issue- there is a lot of variation in R uses. Density is one of the most controversial issues. Packing nearly 700 homes in this area is possible under current county law. Would that be appropriate for the character of infrastructure in place? Taken further- under conditional uses in R they could potentially get many more units in condos or apartments. It is not a good idea to reduce this question to just R- at least when you consider the surrounding uses. It seems like there is a limited understanding of real estate principles. And yet in the audience were several realtors including Brett Fehrman and Patrick and Teresa Martini of Red Apple Realtors.]

Public Comment:

Brian Groh – In a well-written and cohesive statement noted that the issue is high vs. low density. He talked about the integrity of the developer with regard to not making public that the county engineer had purchased land from Kent in Carlee Acres- another sub’n. He characterized the tax maps as a deceptive tactic- that did not show the true character of the area. He noted that Kent stated at 1st meeting that he couldn’t do less than 260 homes. Then he came in with 180. He can do less than 180 also, in Groh’s opinion. “No Matter what VERBAL commitments he makes in this room” was quoted as a warning to commissioners that verbal commitments were unenforceable. He ended with noting that he hoped the thoughtful people we elected would be concerned with traffic and character, the same as we are.

Irwin Diehl read a letter from Johnny Schott- who couldn’t be present. The letter noted that SPACE is what made them willing to live here. That this unique position of rural living close to city amenities creates an unusual value- not found in many places.
He stated Kent has not run any changes by the PC as required by law. Hundreds of homes are unsold in the county- adding these will depress the prices of those and destroy the value of surrounding properties. He wanted them to wait until the county could institute a multi-tiered R zoning setup – (R1, R2, and R3- for different density uses)

Irwin Diehl – I don’t see any change in this presentation! Kent says he has planned this buffer all along. This is not just about R, but how it fits into the existing character.

Carrie Baylor- gave an in-depth slide show of the surrounding large lot and high end properties interspersed with written commentary, which opened and closed with the statement: “I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to…”
She noted that the lawyer on the PC board stated that the letters providing sewers said they “SEEK to provide”- which means they aren’t there yet.
Other statements:
“Do not let this be a place where the developer bulldozes the trees and then names the streets after them.”
Do not sell out the green for green.”

Chet WolgamotAsked if the verbal commitments could be legally upheld if they were not part of the certified package.
Arnie McGill- attorney – “If you want my opinion- no they can’t.”

Chet Wolgamot- went on stating that if the commissioners didn’t understand the legal implications of what they were voting on tonight… (but didn’t get to finish that thought)
Wolgamot entered the following documents into the public record: his letter to the commissioners and an option agreement recorded on p 156 p 2620-23 from Busse property to Tom Kent prepared for and Tom Kent and signed by his attorney ROBERT EWBANK. [NOTE: Ewbank is also the county attorney. This implies a possible conflict of interest that was not evident in the first hearing.]
The concept plan you saw tonight was supposed to be reviewed by the PC first. Nothing Tom Kent provides tonight is binding- this sub’n is a design on the fly process- constantly changing. Theses are verbal commitments that you cannot enforce. You can ask Arnie McGill- you will LOSE in court if you try to enforce a verbal commitment. [NOTE: Perhaps the commissioners don’t ever intend to enforce them. They may be doing this as a political maneuver- to say they “tried.”]
If you vote tonight- you are allowing 696 units. The comprehensive plan is wrong. Benning chimed in- “well- on THAT we agree.” [NOTE: Wolgamot was referring to density maps- Benning was not.]
Wolgamot went on to show the details of the 47 surrounding properties with a map- and then the computer went down. Finally Messmore produced another laptop and Wolgamot reloaded his CD.
In the meantime Mike Livingston was allowed to get up a re-ask his earlier spontaneous question- he asked for the greatest transparency and wanted to know what the comments were under the mike earlier about legal questions. NO ONE ANSWERED THIS.
Wolgamot noted that even all of Shangri-La was moderate except for 2 lots of ¾ acres.
Showed more slides and charts showing 72% were above 3 acres and low density for 34 families. 28% for 13 families were 1-3 acres. None of the SURROUNDING 47 properties were high-density uses. This violates both the character and property values section of the code on rezoning.
He asked then to deny this and open up the application for a new plan for 80-90 homes that would allow the value of the whole community to go up. Maybe we can attract more affluent employees and have a positive impact on tax revenues. We could have a clean package and put it through the process properly- not verbal commitments.
[NOTE: There was applause after each presenter showing support from the neighbors]

Kent rebutted saying SAVETHE SPACE.COM got going by misinforming people, but thanked Diehl and others who were respectful. He said the tax map shows ¼ acre lots and anyone can sell these lots if they want to. The comp plan is the law. Why do people think I want to build something less? I know of some people on small lots that are not on Chet’s list. [NOTE: The 47 on his list were surrounding lots.]
"I was advised by Mr. McCormack who I respect and Travis Miller, who I wish was still here." I lived here all my life- about 50 years- by this. I am not an outside developer.
CHET APPROACHED ME TO SELL HIS LAND FOR ACCESS. [NOTE: No one in the neighborhood audience was surprised by this- I later learned that they all knew why he’d done this.]

Carrie Baylor protested that she did NOT misinform this board!
Chet Wolgamot was not allowed to speak again- and he said “so I can be called a liar and a cheat and I don’t get to respond?”
Mike Livingston also wanted a response and Benning stood up and told the police officer to throw him out. Livingston left quietly. [NOTE: While this was good theater for Benning, wasn’t Hughes supposed to be in charge of the meeting?]

Fox motioned and Benning 2nd to close public discussion. Benning said she agreed with Chet that the Comp plan was wrong and “I voted against it.” She said she had to follow it though because it was law. [NOTE: Again- Benning seems to misunderstand.]
Hughes called for a motion. There was no discussion. Fox motioned and Benning 2nd to change from Ag to R. He read through the criteria but did not state why he thought it passed each point. They did not make any commitments. All ayes- Passed.

[NOTE: If this ends up in court the commissioners cannot claim they were advised to do this. There seems to be no reason for the rehearing other than that the motion failed last time and some behind the scenes prodding has occurred. NOTHING NEW WAS PRESENTED. The neighbors presented ample evidence and the records of the Plan Commission should also show that PC members were concerned about 2 of the criteria not being met. McGill, the attorney, also seemed leery of this standing up in court. It is time for the PC to get the multi-tiered R system set up. We have waited too long and letting everything be R all mixed together with no good concept plan is going to cost the county and the taxpayers in the long run. Any realtor looking for long- term business prospects can see the inherent problems in this type of development strategy. A concept plan showing a way to blend this was needed.]

6. Sheriff Lusby- not on agenda- asked commissioners for permission to give away two firearms – one to Bob Waldon who retired after 20 years and one to Dave Wissman that belonged to his father Jim, former sheriff.
Lusby asked also to change from Verizon to Nextel for their dept. to save $10 per phone and $300 per month. Approved. [NOTE: There were no questions about coverage and reliability and dead spots all over the county.]
Hughes went on to praise Lusby for helping with 911 tower move and medical treatment in the jail as well as saving money on these phones.

7. Pickens said they will discuss contract for excise tax sales etc when Ewbank returns. SRI will free up a worker and costs only $6,000 per year.

8. Amendments reviewed by Ewbank and presented by McGill to the parking ordinance were approved. They will be advertised by Messmore if they weren’t prior to this.

9. Messmore said they will not talk about Vieste –Level 5 Engineering and London Witte until he talks to Council and the Plan Commission. He will continue to work on that arrangement. (Related to the I-74 Comp plan for that corridor.)
[NOTE: Those interested in learning more about these partners can do so at their websites: and ]

Messmore staying in contact with Bright EMS to be helpful.

10. Benning noted Juv Adv Board meeting July 19 at 11:45 AM
She also said the INDOT letter said Wilson Creek Road required a new application for funds because all info is outdated from original. [NOTE: Just how much has changed on Wilson Creek? Mostly slips and these need to be fixed as it is a hospital route.]

Meeting adjourned at 9:05 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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