1 May 2007 Dearborn County Commissioners Meeting Notes
Present: Hughes, President, Fox, and Thompson
Also present: Pickens, Auditor, Ewbank, Attorney, and Messmore, Administrator
Dick Robertson, Vieste/Level 5 Engineering ,LLC – the so-called “extension of county staff” was also present tonight- and presented his claims for payment at the end of the meeting.
No uniformed officers were present.
Don Townsend- Bldg Dept- presented the facts of the case tabled from 4/17 meeting regarding a burned out structure on Winter St at the end of Conwell just outside Aurora city limits. Ewbank swore Townsend in- declaring his testimony to be the truth. [NOTE: Wonder what would happen if all presenters were sworn in at county meetings?]
Townsend said the building burned on 1/19/2005 per Aurora FD and was unsafe, had gang graffiti on it, and that the order to Bev Gabbard was sent 4/4 and effective 4/16 for 60 days notice to demolish and clean up the building debris. She’s about half way through demolition- neighbor complained of debris laying all over and flying into neighboring property and the creek. If Gabbard fails to clean it all up by mid June then the county will do it and a lien will be placed on her taxes to collect the fees for this. Ewbank then called Bev Gabbard’s name 3 times and she was not present. Commissioners voted to allow the order to demolish with a deadline of 60 days from 4/16.
GIS- Margaret Minzner introduced the Sidwell Company with a presentation for parcel building for our GIS system database. Neal Carpenter, CEO and Joyce West Account Manager presented a thorough overview of their services, their company, personnel, and services. They are based in St. Charles, IL but have 90+ counties throughout the Midwest- many in IA, IL and IN. They presented this also to the office holders recently and Pickens said “ I think it’s kinda’ nice and you know I don’t like anything!” [NOTE: Sidwell did one of the classiest presentations I’ve seen at the county. It was low key- informative- very open to questions- (several technical ones came from Thompson).] They gave key references to check- stated it is NOT proprietary software- it is compatible with ProVAL and Low and stated that we should map it once- map it right and it should easily last 100 years. The idea is that the technology can change, but if they stay compatible with certain systems, you can just upgrade and forward the data to the new format. As long as the basic data is accurate- the system will last if updated regularly. Carpenter noted that the topography and other issues in our county made it a challenge, but that they liked working on those kinds of challenging projects. Sidwell started in 1927 and is 100% employee owned. Average tenure of employees is 11 years. They have 6- IAAO CMS designees on staff. They are the leader in Cadastral Mapping. The cost is estimated to be about $800,000- certainly no more. Commissioners took this info under advisement.
Animal Control Ordinance – not ready yet.
Purchasing Agent Ordinance was briefly discussed but commissioners seem to want to leave this as is for now.
Bill Black- EMA- gave an overview of the Homeland Security grant received and got commissioners to sign off on it. Total $517,000 which includes $50,ooo for district manager adm., $450,000 for mobile command unit for the region, $17,000 for more laptops for first responders at %1,000 each, and $150,000 for a regional exercise project at Muscatatuck.
They also signed a Greater Cincinnati agreement to assist each other in the tristate area. We still don’t have a Mutual Aid agreement with Ohio. Black is also going to a WEBEOC conference in San Antonio to tie the state together.
Gary Hensley- Assessor- gave an overview of his first 1/16 of a term and stated that his office is now complaint and property tax revenue will be released. He stressed that the contracts he’s working under were started prior to his tenure. He mentioned the $45,000 Homestead Credit and reminded commissioners that he doesn’t MAKE THE RULES- he has to work with them. There are problems in his current software and wants ASII that was created by a user to be purchased for sales disclosures for $12,500. It is compatible with ProVAL and LOW , but he’s not sure if it is with GIS. The trustees requested he seek bids for new construction assessor- because only one trustee is certified to do this. He was OK’d to select and hire from the 3 bids he has opened already. No Names were given at this meeting.
Robert Bissett- Property Tax questions- citizen moved here about 3 years ago. He mentioned that his wife has a degree in computer science from Mount St, Joe and he has a masters in Inf Tech from Ball State and that neither of them can figure out what their property taxes will be! The math doesn’t work. He talked to Hensley also about why the county was using out of state assessors to work here- rather than hiring locally. He wondered when we were getting through reassessment to get a bill that makes sense. Hensley noted we are going to go through another reassessment next year. Assessments go up, then the rates should go down. They are hoping to get a budget order with rates soon.
Bissett asked about getting an update on Ag Econ Dev Meetings- but said that could be at a later meeting- he saw a full agenda tonight. Hughes said they talked about farm products, biofuels, and wants to get a round table through the Chamber or the Extension Office.
Todd Listerman Transportation Dept- Gave a 15-minute summary (which is short for Listerman) of Council’s actions at their April meeting, presented a signatory page for the bridge inspections, which were performed for $96,831 and noted the cost 2 years from now on the 2nd part will be $86,325. The county also saved $300 on these contracts. These are 80/20 reimbursements with the state.
He told them Major Moves money was allotted for Wilson Creek 9$50,000) and Collier Ridge slips ($40,000 preliminary engineering by HC Nutting geotech) They will do a lot of work in house to save money.
Chip seal THRU Roads will be addressed at budget hearings. It would take $3 million to do all of these – would have to be phased.
Listerman asked permission to go to Council for $25,000 for steel and $75,000 concrete from cum bridge to do in house small structure rehabilitation. Fox said this was high payback- Commissioners OK’d to go to Council.
Three bridges need repair we cannot do- rockers, bearing pads, and expansion joints- on Johnson Fork, Salt Fork, and Sagamaw. OK’d to go to Council for $100,000 for preliminary engineering on these.
At the next meeting they will bring in rewritten contract for George St. Bridge walkway- to widen it on North side.
Commissioners also signed statements regarding land acquisitions for Bells Branch Bridge. One says we will comply- one says we did comply.
Fox asked Listerman to put notices in paper on Collier Ridge and Wilson Creek so citizens know they are working on them. Collier Ridge may not get finished this year yet. They are also doing a small structure replacement on Kuebel Road.
PUBLIC HEARING- WHITE PINES ZONE CHANGE-
McCormack presented the overview of the Tucker/Schmidt/Bayer Becker development. [NOTE: John Watson attorney for St. Leon was there representing the developer- but did not speak publicly.]
McCormack spent a lot of time detailing how the concept development plan and written commitments would stand and that changes to these would require another PC hearing. He passed out IN Adm Code on this. He noted NO DENSITY changes were made as requested by the PC in their Feb meeting. If commissioners act tonight, then written commitments on the concept dev. Plan would have to be signed by the applicant and the PC. Also noted were $30,000 total to be donated to the school and the road fund.
Jeff Hughes asked why the advertising for Commissioner Meeting was done BEFORE the PC hearing. Applicant requested this and McCormack and Messmore and Ewbank discussed before they did that. [NOTE: HURRY HURRY HURRY]
Tucker presented for the development. He said they couldn’t go less dense- they changed many things to improve the development and he made a big issue of protecting an adjoining subdivision (Farmland Dr) from aesthetic issues. [NOTE: If these sub’ns are so compatible- why do they need to be shielded from each other?] Tucker noted this flat land with all the infrastructure is good for all types of development, but then hastened to say that it wasn’t good for INDUSTRY. [NOTE: Why not? If all the infrastructure is there- or is it?]
He said there would be NO detrimental effects on property values and used national figures to allot 0.62 kids per home. He also showed high school scores and grad rates for the 3 school districts (no year was shown for that data) saying that Sunman Dearborn is still best in almost all categories. Tucker compared miles of “visibility” of the sub’n to others in the area. He also showed how much economic impact the housing industry has on the county in wages and taxes, etc. He’s committed to 94 homes, and giving $10,000 to the ND Elementary to use as they wish and $20,000 for improvements to Gaynor Ridge. [ NOTE: It costs $50,000 to pave an already improved road. It costs more (like 2-3 times that) if the road needs to be widened etc. per Listerman after a previous Commissioner meeting.]
Jeff Hughes presented emails received for the public record- they were not read aloud.
Glen Crocker- gave a timeline of this development proposal- June 2006 submitted 131 homes and July 2006 PC UNFAVORABLE at 5-1 for density issues.
Aug 2006- Commissioners Meeting- Tucker complained that there were only 6 PC members Fox thought this should go back to the PC and work something out.
Oct 2006 108 houses submitted. Nov 2006 PC UNFAVORABLE 7-1 for density issues again.
Jan 2007 submitted 94 homes and Feb 2007 – eight PC members were polled and all but one was ready to say no due to density. They also gave direction to Tucker on what they wanted to see- individually ranging from ¾ to 2-3 acre lots. Tabled at Tucker’s request for up to 90 days.
Then at April meeting applicant makes no changes and the PC gave no recommendation. He said he noticed Tucker is not complaining about only 6 PC members now.
Crocker noted the PC was working hard to give Tucker direction through all of this. They did their job and told the applicant how to get a FAVORABLE- he did not do it. [NOTE: Instead they bring a lawyer…]
Crocker talked to Angie McCool at Century-21- there are 190 homes for sale and 243 homes for sale total in S-D plus 70 lots. She said that doesn’t include the developer lots. Last fall at a S-D board meeting Roeder said the problem with overcrowding in Bright will lead to building another elementary or redrawing school lines. Crocker said that is 2 years 772 acres were converted Ag- R with 636 lots and 493 housing permits issued.
He referred to suburban ugliness and doesn’t believe we should “put stuff where stuff’s at.” (referring to Tucker’s statement at a previous PC meeting) “We’re common folk and we wonder how much our voices are heard.” Crocker said his adrenaline was running like on Friday nights and hoped he wouldn’t slobber like they do when they are playing football and slapping on helmets. (Referring to his coaching at LHS) [LAUGHTER]
Pulling up PowerPoint slides he asked- what will this subdivision do FOR the surroundings? Not much. He suggested putting 23-56 homes in this as a transitional zone- no trees and bunkers would be needed – they’ll bring oohs and aahs – that’s what it’s all about.
Crocker showed the plats surrounding the development and Ag/ rural use with the exception of Harley Springs nestled down mostly out of eyesight. “If the comp plan says to DEFACE THE RURAL AREAS, this will do it. But I don’t believe that’s what it says.”
Fox- Would you have been here if the ¾ acres had been adhered to? Crocker: NO
Hughes- we’re pushing Ag here. Crocker- I wouldn’t mind if it stayed in hay.
Fox- If most people who lived on Ag ground asked a realtor to assess- they’d be shocked at the increased value. P/Z says to be sure you don’t do HARM to other people- balance. [ NOTE: Fox said to Crocker in this portion of the meeting that they would continue with the hearing but indicated he wanted to send this back to PC]
Terry Powell- Wife is lifelong resident- I’ve been here 26 years. Live on Farmland Drive. The primary issue is density and the density proposed is inconsistent with the area. Focus on Ag- R rezone- if you don’t rezone it- that forces the density to 1 per acre. Powell repeated used the term- “What is in the best interests of the county and its residents.” He said that there were an overwhelming number of residents in the area- and some outside the area who agree that this is too dense. You as commissioners should know where your constituents stand on rezones in Ag. Powell mentioned the community costs and negative impacts and also the standard of living of the current people who chose to invest in low-density rural areas and farms. The PC reviewed this 4 times and failed to give a favorable. The consistent message of the majority of the PC is that this is NOT in the best interests of the county and its residents.
Tom Gaynor- family lived here 147 years and he and sons operate livestock farm. Consider the current residents. A sewer line does NOT mean you have to have high density. If you can afford 1-2 acres you can afford to pay taxes to improve schools. 33 kids in primary classrooms now. Maps passed out showing existing condition of Gaynor Ridge Road with 4 sharp turns within ½ mile of this. Schools and road safety are not someone else’s problem- the commissioners should look at this.
Todd Schumate- North Dearborn and Gaynor are the only E-W roads in the area. Has 3 kids age 8 and under. Where will kids play. Works on volunteer fire dept.- biggest worry is to have to go on a run for a hurt child. Wants to develop an area safe to raise kids.
Steve Kuhn- Grew up and live on a farm here- density is way too high. This is not smart and doesn’t go with the county’s plan for development. PC members polled in Feb agree – ¾ to 2 acre lots. He feels the developers are not listening to the PC board. Development is judged on a case by case basis. Just because something got approved in the past doesn’t mean it was right for the community. Infrastructure cannot handle high-density housing. Will the $20,000 for roads go to fix the ruts and fences they run into on our farms? The N Dearborn Rd project is being put on hold. We plant corn in our fields and will continue- that affects visibility too. Farm vehicles need to use the roads.
Glen Richardson- our family lives all along the N side of this development on Gaynor Ridge. He went thru the 5 criteria for a zone change : 1. Comp plan says Ag. 2. Current conditions show mostly low density and character is rural. 3. Most desirable use- looking for a reasonable use of land as we move forward. The connecting roads are not that strong, there is no strong need for housing, and there will be a negative impact on the schools that are in debt now. 4. It will diminish property values when high-density smaller homes are put next to 80 acres with 5 homes. 5. It’s not responsible to require high density when there are no extenuating circumstances to require that.
He then made RECOMMENDATIONS: for 1-acre lots minimum, improving the roads, and strong housing covenants. Make it an eye catcher- not an eye sore. What’s the compelling reason to approve? Just because you can; doesn’t mean you should.
Bob Gaynor- This is rural farming low-density area with 7 livestock farms. There are already bad issues with farm equipment and traffic. Currently he has between 86-114 cars in the morning rush hour (7-8 AM)and 52-62 between 3-4 PM.
My brother Tom and I have given ENOUGH for development in this area- our farms still bear the scars of sewer lines from years ago. He passed out tax rates in surrounding areas- with ours being highest.
Diana Hay- I recently attended the Comp Plan meetings- they were well attended. Land Map A was the winner- with the least amount of development. I think people are saying we want low density. It takes time to feel the effects of overcrowded schools, traffic on roads, and litter scattered on the roadside. Children are feeling the effects with 32 in the classroom and so are their teachers. At a Christmas concert we had to sit on the floor of the gym- the bleachers were full. She asked – What is being done to promote Ag in Dearborn County? ( No answer)
Mike Gaynor- We raise cattle and hogs- hard to haul on roads with traffic now. What happens when we expand our business? We need to look out for OUR best interests- the developers won’t.
Fox motioned Thompson 2nd to Deny. Ewbank said they had to base it on the 5 criteria. Fox read through them and then stated especially they one on current conditions and character was not met. Thompson wanted to ad road condition. Fox stuck to #2 only. Thompson went with Fox.
Hughes said he hated to see him not be able to use his property. Thompson said BALANCE the rights of both sides. Fox agreed with Thompson on balance. Hughes agreed with Fox that it should go back to PC- be fair to every individual. He said zoning makes an artificial market- increases some people and decreases others. Fox asked Thompson to convey the commissioner’s thinking to the PC- and you’ll be in an awful position…
Vote: 2 ayes with Hughes Nay. Zone change DENIED.
[NOTE: Developer can reapply for another zone change in 90 days or can go for primary approval for an Ag zoned subdivision. Those have to demonstrate that they are compatible to the Ag purposes- which usually requires most lots being 5 acres to accomplish Ag use]
Claims and minutes approved with PSA Dewberry being denied again for incomplete substantiation. The check will be held until that comes in. Hughes said he talked to them and was comfortable- no specifics. Thompson insisted that we should be able to stand up and explain to people what we approved for payment.
[NOTE: In answering Thompson questions, there was a lot of variability in the back up that Messmore and Robertson were giving as to when and what PSA Dewberry was doing. They couldn’t seem to get dates or duties right and seemed to be grasping at straws to try to latch on to something that would please the commissioners. Robertson said PSA Dewberry was part of the TEAM along with Jungclaus Campbell and RBC. Then the team members seemed to disappear from the Vieste website) Vieste was to be paid and then they pay the team who works for them. Now it seems that the team wants to be paid directly. If they aren’t part of Vieste then perhaps this is just a ploy to get the job without having to bid it out competitively?]
London Witte and Vieste were approved. Vieste will be paid per the contract schedule EVEN THOUGH WORK IS CURRENTLY ON HOLD. [NOTE: Is anyone going to suggest we terminate or rewrite this contract to be FAIR to the county?]
School contract for state was signed- an annual process to get the interest on $29,000 distributed to 3 districts.
Lifetime Resources letter signed.
Meeting adjourned at 10:45 PM
Christine Brauer Mueller