This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

3 of 5

Monday night had an unusually packed meeting schedule: 5:30 Board of Public Works, 6:00 City Council and Library Board, 7:00 special meeting of the BZA, and 7:30 Park Board. I thought I could make four of the five but I was wrong. I only made three.

Board of Public Works meetings are usually very short and the business is mostly approving payment for city projects. In Monday's meeting payment for services regarding the St. Gasper Drive project, planning for the I-65 water service extension, and planning and studies of the sewage plant and the proposed wet weather treatment plant were approved. The contractor thinks that paving of the Gasper Drive extension may take place Thursday and Friday.

Before the City Council meeting a new police officer, Nick Enyeart, was sworn in.

Highlights of the City Council meeting included a bond ordinance for the wet weather treatment plant, a new gas tracker, and opening of bids for the I-65 water extension. The bond ordinance was passed before bids because that could get the project running about twenty days earlier. The ordinance, prepared by some outside law firm, authorizes borrowing up to $8 million, more than the expected cost of the plant. Financing will come from a grant from the USDA and a loan, but initially the city will borrow short-term from the Indiana Bond Bank and will repay those loans from the proceeds of the USDA grant and loan. The council suspended the second and third reading of the ordinance and passed it for all three readings.

The gas tracker will show a four cents reduction per hundred cubic feet for August.

There were six bids for the I-65 water main extension and each bid had a base bid and a bid with deductions (which I assume means a slightly smaller project). Base bids ranged from a bit over $1.2 million to a bit over $1.6 million. The bids will be referred to the consulting engineer for a recommendation.

In other items, the hours for Halloween trick-and-treating will be 5:30 until 8:00. The city will again put the old Monnett School building or Admin building up for bid. It is appraised at $130,000 and the bid will be conditional on rezoning or granting of a variance. The Council agreed to have the Park Department manage the land that it owns where the now demolished Monnett School once stood.

The third meeting of the evening was a special BZA meeting regarding a truck-wash and transfer station that Rose Acres wants to build on the site of the old Carson Inn at the US 231/I-65 interchange. Since this item had been on the agenda of two earlier BZA meetings, I expected a very short meeting. I was wrong--the meeting took 75 minutes.

The purpose of the Rose Acre project is bio security. Recently a Rose Acre farm in Iowa was infected with Avian flu and they had to kill 3 million chickens. The trucks from the Rose Acre farms would enter from the north and offload eggs into a transfer facility. Trucks taking the eggs to market would enter from the south. The trucks would be kept separate from each other. The project would consist of a 110' by 240' transfer facility and a 80' by 116' truck washing building. Water from the truck washing building would be used to irrigate land to the north, though that plan still needs IDEM approval. The land currently is owned by one of the Patels but Rose Acres has an option to buy subject to certain conditions, which included the granting of the special exception and the variance.

The members of the BZA had a number of concerns. They worried about dust. They wondered how the northern trucks could be considered "clean" when they were coming through the entrance that also serves the truck stop. They did not understand why two buildings needed to be close together when it seemed a fence would accomplish the same goal. They wondered how bio-secure the facility would be because there might be geese on the adjoining pond. They commented that Rose Acre was not always a good neighbor--there have been issues with their spreading of manure on fields. Rose Acre was represented by a lawyer and for this hearing they should also have had an architect or someone who really understood exactly what they were planning and why. In the end both the special exception and variance were approved, though the variance had one opposed and on the findings of fact the chairwoman had to break a tie.

I decided I did not want to walk into a Park Board meeting fifty minutes after it started, so I went home. However, the Park Board meeting should be interesting now because various thing are coming together.

In other news, the new Doggers restaurant is open. It seems that they made minimal changes to the interior, but it has been a restaurant for its last two uses.
An important news story that is affecting some Rensselaerians is the closure of the northbound lanes of I-65 because of problems with the bridge over Wildcat Creek. There is no estimate of how long the lanes will be closed. How are local people who have to travel that route adjusting?

Recently I was reading some of the blog posts of a bicyclist on his way across the county. The fellow is a friend of one of my sons and stayed overnight at my daughter's place in the middle of nowhere. I was especially interested in how he got through Utah and Nevada, places where there is a lot of empty road and few services. He finished his trip so I was surprised to see a post yesterday about how he had stopped in Rensselaer.

Have a happy Mother's Liberation Day, aka the First Day of School.

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