Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mitter Resigns PC- 27 November 2006 Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes

Mitter Resigns PC- 27 November 2006 Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes

Meeting lasted 6 hours and 20 minutes. I have condensed 14 pages of notes.

Present: Mark Mitter, Chairman, Patrick deMaynadier, Jane Ohlmansiek, Tarry Feiss, Nick Held, Mike Hall, Robert Laws, and Dennis Kraus, Jr.
Absent: Jeff Hughes
Also Present: Arnie McGill, Attorney, Mark McCormack, Planning Director
Also absent: Kate Rademacher, Enforcement Officer.

1. Tom Kent requested a change in written commitments for Perfect View Zone Map on SR 1 in Miller Township. Specific request was to modify the language so that he could GRADE on slopes greater than 20% for his roadbed to cut through the hill and not on the edge of it. The actual road will be on less than 20% slope when finished. The geotech engineer thinks the road will be less prone to slippage this way.
No public comment. Hall remarked that it’s like new 48 vs. old 48 in design change. Board concerned that they would set a precedent with this. All agreed this was a small section and not a precedent.
Patrick de Maynadier motioned and Bob Laws seconded to give a favorable recommendation to the commissioners to allow the geotech study to be submitted to allow grading on this section of 20-25% grade with the understanding that the road is finished to less than 20% grade and that NO BUILDINGS will be along this section. All ayes.

2. Zone change request from Ag to R for 108 single family homes on 56 acres of White Farm on North Dearborn/Gaynor Ridge/Short Roads in Logan Township.Owner/Applicant: White Farm Development LLC (Tucker and Schmidt) and Becker Bayer
This application took almost 2.5 hours.

When McCormack presented the materials and pictures he included calculations on densities in the area at the request of the PC.
Farmland averaged 2.16 acres/unit. Harley Springs averaged 1.26 acres/unit. White Farm proposed to be .519 acres/unit. That makes it over twice as dense as the next densest subdivision in the area. Tucker cited other subdivisions in Bright and by East Central as back up for his proposed density. He stated that these were adjoining farmland also.

Tucker offered $20,000 to be donated to N Dearborn Elementary about a ½ mile away for use to upgrade their playground and $30,000 to be put in the pot to repair other sections of Gaynor Ridge. Tucker said he realized this was a small amount compared to what Gaynor Ridge needs.
Tucker said this application is different from the previous one that was given an unfavorable because he decreased homes from 131 to 108 (17% reduction), changed the landscaping to increase buffering, changed the street configuration, and changed the average frontages to 100 ft outside the development edges and 85 ft internally. There are several homes facing the main county roads and accessing them directly via individual driveways.
This project will donate 40 ft half ROW to North Dearborn on that perimeter. No trees will be cut in the 20 ft buffer by written commitments. There will be no buildings in that buffer either. The minimum sq footage is 1500 sq ft on ranches. Tucker passed out a booklet illustrating trees, homes, and monuments. He said it would cost $175-200,000 to do all the upgrades to roads and tree plantings around the perimeter. He cited those as benefits to the community at large.
Tucker said there were effects to the outside community that he attempted to mitigate with his $20,000 to playground at the school and $30,000 for more roadwork on Gaynor Ridge beyond his development edges. The $30,000 is paid, as each of three phases would be complete at $10,000 per phase.
The 108 homes will be in by 2011 at the earliest.
The board asked about combined driveways on the county street sides. That was to be discussed at primary plat phase.


10 people spoke: Tom Gaynor, Todd Schumate, Ralph Geis, Bob Gaynor, Alan Acheson, Sheila Henderson, Bill Williams, Glenn Crocker, Brian Richardson, and Steve Kuhn. There was also one letter from Mr. Baer, an adjoiner.

Their opposing comments centered primarily on density issues, safety issues, and school overcrowding and taxes.

Moving farm equipment and the number of long time family farms that are working farms in the area were cited as evidence of the rural/ag nature of the area. Traffic along the windy, hilly area with school speeders was also cited. Several of the speakers illustrated density concerns with maps, percentages, and pictures. Some contested the idea that this was an appropriate “mix” of housing stock.
School class sizes in elementary grades exceeding 32 per class were noted. The $20,000 gesture for a one-time fix to playground was seen as not fixing the EDUCATIONAL impact of the development. Some families have over 6 generations of history in the area. One went so far as to state that he felt that in his humble opinion, Tucker missed on all 5 criteria for the zone change.

Several noted they are NOT Bright- they are Logan Township- and they are rural.

One showed 108 houses in an aerial picture as a big ugly tumor. He also noted 16 driveways directly accessing Short and 12 on Gaynor Ridge. This is an Ag area and there is nothing wrong with that field staying Ag. Many proposed 1-2 acres per home to make it a true rural setting.

Tucker and the PC then discussed the comments for the next 30 minutes.
Tucker insisted this was controlled development and it is exactly where we want to grow. Listerman was consulted about the road changes and noted there was some concern with curves on Gaynor Ridge. He also related that some of these aren’t on the 2030 plan. The Short Road alignment fix was good and county had already trimmed some trees to improve visibility.

PC board had a hard time seeing this BLEND with the area. They had issues with the driveways accesses to main roads. They saw buffers on the east side by Farmland but not the others.

Tucker thought that if others could access these streets, why not his development?
Mitter told him – these were in the past- we seek to control those issues for the future safety of the road. He said you got this almost right on the internal streets, not the outside ones. Tucker said they couldn’t lose a bunch of units and afford the road fixes etc.

Patrick de Maynadier motioned and Nick Held 2nd to pass an UNFAVORABLE recommendation to commissioners as this does not meet Section 540 requirements for a zone change. All Ayes except for Bob Laws Nay.

PC took a break for 15 minutes.

3. Mariah Business Park Zone Map amendment request for 32 of 56c acres on SR1 and Olds SR1 (Sawmill Road) in Kelso Township from H-1 to M-1. Applicant presenting was Bayer Becker for Mariah Development and their attorney , Lisa Lehner.

[NOTE: This is in the TIF (Tax Incremental Financing) district recently created by the Redevelopment Commission and Commissioners with the support of DCEDI also. It is also located right next to the new school on SR1 and Sawmill Road.]


McCormack presented the staff report. Notably there were letters missing on the school and fire/ems support. The traffic study showed a level of service F as designed for the access to SR1 for the Park. The other 5-lot industrial park development for gas station, convenience store, hardware, storage units etc was essentially tied to this access also, so if the variances weren’t granted, then that one would drop out also.

Nicole Daily of Becker Bayer did most of the presentation for the applicant. She noted buffer areas and helping to balance the fiscal problems of county development. This doesn’t affect the number of kids in school, so the school board was looking at it in relation to safety issues etc. Water was OK but fire flows had not been calculated. Slopes greater that 20% were at the back of the property by I-74. Preliminary grading indicates areas greater than 20% grade may be disturbed. They are willing to hire a geotech. They think they have an 8-inch main on SR 1.

DeMaynadier said the fire dept won’t give a letter till they know what the M-1 is going to be. He cited- speaking from experience in another state- the pharmaceutical or chemical industries that would mean a much different form and level of fire protection.


Earl Dawson- adjoining property owner was confused about acreage- 56 acres- but they are only taking 32 for this and 9 for the next application- which leaves 15 unaccounted for. Daily said these were interstate ROW.
He questioned their ability to access SR1 with less than 800 ft available.
He said county is looking for planned development and this road is a mess; more turn lanes on top of each other and conflicting traffic with business across the street. He noted also they have NOT controlled the Johnson grass on the property- and there is a law against that.

Jim West- DCEDI (Dearborn County Economic Development Initiative)- came to speak in favor of this, as they want an inventory of available shovel ready sites to capture Honda spin-offs. To date they have no sites available.

Mark Mitter- came to the podium.

Lisa Lehner- attorney for the applicant- immediately objected, stating Mitter had a conflict of interest. [NOTE: This is the same attorney who didn’t think that Maxwell, a developer, or Fehrman, a realtor, had any conflict of interest on the sewer board.]

Mitter stated he had no pecuniary (monetary) interest in the project.

Lehner went on to suggest that case law would show they had a reason to take legal action due to this conflict. She mentioned that Mitter was not an adjoining owner.

[NOTE: Neither was West or Lehner for that matter]

Jane Ohlmansiek, acting chairman for this case, said that all citizens have a right to speak and that right is not given up just because they are on the board.
DeMaynadier said that Mitter speaking as a citizen and not voting is no conflict. Kraus, Jr, asked for McGill-the board’s attorney’s opinion.

McGill noted that in the past they could speak as long as they step down- EVEN as surveyors who did have pecuniary interests. He saw no problem with this as the board was making a recommendation and not the decision either.

Mitter said he has no pecuniary interest but Jim West does. He said Lehner seeks to shut down public input.

Mitter then stepped back and said he decided not to speak, even though McGill said it was OK.

Chris Mueller- I brought up that this M-1 zone was in the TIF district- (This seemed to be a surprise to several of the board members!)
I mentioned problems with interstate access as being inadequate particularly showing what happened in Harrison and also in Batesville as they had to upgrade and the turmoil and traffic issues that caused during construction.
I noted with two schools in the area and the entire northern county access here, it would be detrimental to the development of the area. I noted there was no development plan attached- and we even have those in Residential zoning- they would be far more important here. I said with the TIF district all these things need to be nailed down so we do not waste the declared area on gas stations and low paying industry uses.
I mentioned with the schools so close they need to know what is going in there because if they zone it M-1 with no Dev Plan they can legally put anything there that is in the M-1 district. There were missing utility and fire letters.
I strongly suggested they at least table this.

End Public comment.

Listerman talked about the road issues and the access being within the turn lanes. The Bayer Becker study did not use the deceleration lane in their calculations. They need 620 ft and Sawmill is only 450 ft away.
Access A has LOS of F, this does adversely affect SR1- people get impatient, and then accidents occur. They need to get connectivity across lot 5 to adjoining property on NW.

Daily noted schools were concerned with M-2 so they switched use to M-1.

Katy Lambert of Bayer Becker did the traffic study and attempted to justify her results. Noted they were restricted because of their small SR1 frontage. Said OUR DRIVE IS OUR PROBLEM. Said people will learn to use Sawmill Road access. Wanted to get INDOT to get traffic signal there.

DeMaynadier- said how do you explain to parents that their kid’s school bus just got T-boned there.

Lambert noted there was a HUGE COMP PLAN THAT WAS DOING THE WHOLE AREA. (Vieste/Level 5?)

Mark Rosenberger of Bayer Becker said he sensed they were going to table this and that they would probably have to study the interstate access as Chris Mueller suggested. What other concerns did the board have?

DeMaynadier said- traffic, uses going in, especially close to the school, access issues, etc.

Kraus, Jr said they should contact other owners to see about better access.

DeMaynadier motioned and Hall 2nd to TABLE pending specific info to address matters in section 540 for 60 days or less.
All ayes.
The next 5- lot Mariah Park was tabled also for 60 days max.


Mr. Stenger representing Ralph Meierjohn on Ameritech (The Glenn Property by Greendale on SR 1 proposed development) spoke to the board touting their developments and wanting to take a couple of them to tour so as not to violate open door laws. He also suggested they could go tour with Jim west if they preferred. Apparently West is in favor of their development too as it provides upscale housing for all those Honda spin off workers [NOTE: YIKES!!!!! There is more at stake than Open Door laws- PC members are not allowed to be influenced prior to a hearing. What he was suggesting was attempting to influence them in favor of his company’s product. I saw no one take him up on the offer and apparently no one called him back when he placed calls to the members.]
Stenger wanted them to see the quality of their homes and visit the Monte Vista area in Western Hills by I-74.

Mark McCormack- presented packet for their review for next meeting, and noted the section on animals in R districts. PC meets Dec 18th next.

Dec 4th is the Open House for Master Plan Public Comment at Sunman Dearborn Middle School Cafeteria from 709 PM. Comments will be written, submitted then or later, oral with staff at stations, and may also use colored dots to vote for their choices of land uses.

Mark Mitter addressed the board from the podium stating his intent to resign his Plan Commission post Tues night at the Council meeting.
He said that 11 years ago he was asked to serve on BZA by commissioners because it was all screwed up and people weren’t being heard. He has confidence in the PC and BZA boards because we can disagree and still go out and slap each other on the back in the parking lot afterward. He said he fought hard and was a big proponent of economic development including Vieste and the TIF. He wanted to speak to that issue tonight because of all his background and saw the applicant only trying to silence his input. He thinks he can do more from this side of the podium now, with his resignation. He said the advertising of the 56-acre M-1 district a month prior to it being heard even makes the public suspect that this was all a done deal. He thought that was wrong. Said it was a pleasure and good luck to all of you.

The board attempted to get Mitter to reconsider. Discussion clearly showed their desire to keep him on PC. Mitter wouldn’t change his mind. Other comments included Lehner as an attorney trying to influence board to not allow a citizen/board member input by insinuating there was case law (not cited but mentioned) that would uphold her contention that he had a conflict of interest. That was why the board sought their own attorney’s advice.

[NOTE: In my opinion, this is a huge loss of experience and leadership for the Plan Commission. Mitter and I have argued and agreed and argued some more - many times over the past 11 years. While I don’t always agree with him, I rarely have felt the need to criticize his handling of the public during any meeting. He has presented an open forum almost without exception during his tenure on BZA and PC. I expect he will be hearing from many others regarding his resignation.]

Meeting adjourned at 1:20 AM Tuesday 28 November 2006

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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