Friday, March 13, 2009


The following is an unedited letter from Commissioner Jeff Hughes to some landowners in Dearborn County. My notations are in red.
Christine Brauer Mueller, member Advisory Committee for the County Master Plan.

Dear Dearborn County resident,

I want to express my concern about an upcoming vote by the Dearborn County Commissioners. The vote is for the “Future Land Use Map” and it is scheduled for the March 17th commissioners meeting. This map would be used by county boards and county officials to determine how your land could be used now and in the future. [NOTE: It would be used as one of SEVERAL tools as guidance for land use requests.]

Currently, land use decisions are left to the property owners. If the “Future Land Use Map” is approved by commissioners, much of the authority for property decisions will be transferred from the property owners to county government. [NOTE: Hughes is incorrect – land use decisions come to the Plan Commission and BZA and have for nearly 44 years in this county. The County Commissioners have had the final say on zone changes since then as well.] Proponents of the “Future Land Use Map” contend that the county needs this tool to help control and direct growth. I strongly disagree. The county already has an extensive permit process, subdivision regulations, and zoning ordinances to insure reasonable growth in Dearborn County. [NOTE: OK which is it? Now he says the government is already doing it? How do these plan for GROWTH?] The “Future Land Use Map” goes beyond the government’s role of protecting property owner’s rights to actually transferring some of these rights to county bureaucrats. I asked if a property owner preformed everything the county required to obtain a permit, except be in the arbitrarily designated lines of the so-called advisory “Future Land Use Map”, could the permit be denied? The answer was most certainly yes. [NOTE: Whom did Hughes ask? There is no one who understood the “Future Land Use Map” who would have said this.] I asked a local attorney how does this affect decision making? In his opinion the “Future Land Use Map” would be a fundamental shift in decision making authority from property owners to government. [NOTE: Why not name the attorney. Is he an authority in planning and zoning law?] I also asked a local banker how the value of the land might be affected if the future land use were restricted by the county via a “Future Land Use Map”. He explained that in general, land is valued at its highest and best use and if government were to restrict those uses, the loss of value to that property could be severe. [NOTE: So name the banker authority also. The error here is in what Hughes leaves out. WHO values land at its highest and best use? The tax assessor? The banker giving you the loans? The landowner? The insurance adjuster? The realtor? Higher land values only benefit the seller and the tax collector!] I called many landowners about this “Future Land Use Map” and a vast majority knew very little if anything about it. [NOTE: Hughes must call people who can’t read, don’t listen to the radio, and don’t subscribe to the paper. You can publicize the process that went on for months and the public hearings- if someone chooses to IGNORE that, that is their right. We don’t count the votes of people who don’t vote. Where was all this fervor for protecting landowners, when Vieste wanted the NW QUAD and Hughes voted yes for that 4,000 acre multi-million dollar project with no public hearing?]

As an elected official I believe it is my responsibility to protect the rights of the citizens we represent not diminish those rights. I believe this “Future Land Use Map” strips the rights from the property owners and potentially decreases the value of their land. I intend to vote against the passage of this “Future Land Use Map”. I am only one of three votes. [NOTE: Hughes is telling us how he will vote and also telling us how he thinks his fellow commissioners will vote. What's the point in the hearing? Isn't Hughes going to listen to the Public Tueday night?] The other two commissioners have implied they will vote to accept this “Future Land Use Map”. If you share my concerns please come to the Dearborn County Commissioners meeting on March 17th at 7 PM. The meeting will be in the Commissioners Room in the Dearborn County administration building.


Jeff Hughes District One Commissioner

[NOTE: Hughes does not really understand how most of the county landowners and homeowners feel. In some some ways his stance is hypocritical. He chose to live in HVL, one of the most restrictive communities in the county. He is well insulated by their rules and the mass of people in his community who agree with those rules by choice. Contrast that with the typical landowner who isn’t protected in a gated community.

The PUBLIC was invited to express opinions on this draft map. The PUBLIC chose to protect some of their land values (not just monetarily) years ago by enacting planning and zoning with the original comprehensive plan in 1965. That plan was first revised in 1980 and a giant rezone map was done. A couple years ago, the plan was redone again. The county planning dept. has resorted to using maps of current land uses as a tool to determine appropriate zoning decision. Our zoning maps with firm lines are what are driving permits now. This Future Land Use Map is a VISION- not a zoning map. It helps project where the county thinks development can occur.
We tried to keep it close to current development patterns to avoid taxpayer expenses that would become unaffordable, such as what Bright is looking at with their Fire District issues and others are seeing with school expansions. Hughes’s friends- the realtors, bankers, lawyers, and developers actually wanted to EXPAND those lines. They wanted a map too- one that benefitted them.

So what is it that Hughes really wants? Does he even understand the ramifications of what he is saying?]


NorthWest said...

Christine, the answer to your final question is, simply, NO. It's stunning to me that this man, who was, when I first encountered him during a pre-election, meet-the-public event, so embarassingly uninformed and clearly not equiped for the position he was seeking, pretends now to be such an expert champion of landowners. When comparing the before and after Jeff Hughes, the only comparison that comes to mind is the comparison between a sock and a sock puppet. A limp, mindless sack of cloth converted into something animated by filling it with the actions and thoughts of someone else.

Well, boys and girls, can you guess who benefits from what the puppet says? I bet ya can! Welcome to the neighborhood.

tjaw said...

Christine Brauer Mueller said:
"Contrast that with the typical landowner who isn’t protected in a gated community."

For the record, HVL is not a gated community.