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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Quick notes on a couple of meetings

The second City Council meeting of September did not have any big surprises. Some people who live outside the city limits but who get city gas were upset by the $3 a month environmental fee that is tacked onto their utility bill each month. They wanted to know what they received for that fee and if it could be waived. The city attorney said that the only body that can waive the fee is the Board of Public Works and they had rejected the request. The Council could pass a new ordinance, but there was no one on the Council so inclined. The people left unsatisfied with the answers that they had received.

There was a public hearing on the 2016 budget that had no public comments, probably because the information that is presented is not intelligible. The Council approved the signing of a contract with TV cable that covered a number things including pole rental and the installation and leasing of fiber optic cable to link city facilities.

A representative from IMPA (the organization that provides electricity to municipal electrical utilities) spoke about the need for an ordinance to deal with something that has not yet happened here. He argued that a person could set up solar panels to generate power for the home and would sell surplus power during the day and draw power during the night. Such a installation might draw as much power as it supplies, and the person who installed it would therefore not owe any money to the city other than the $5 customer charge that everyone pays for connection to the grid. He argued that the value of being connected to the grid and the cost to the grid of having him as a customer was much greater than $5 and suggested that the city consider passing a fee schedule to reflect that higher cost/value in case there are people in the future who want to generate their own electricity yet remain on the grid. The issue will come up in future meetings.

The city has accepted a paving bid of $303K from street repaving for 18 projects. The bid was awarded to E&B Paving.

The Council approved a road closure for Harrison Street by the fire station  on October 8. There will be a Fire Prevention Open House that evening.

Work on gas main extensions has been completed. Now attention will turn to service lines.

There was also a meeting of the county Board of Zoning Appeals on Monday evening. The case was interesting and instructive. A young couple purchased some landlocked property in Walker township with an easement to the county road. They wanted a variance that would approve 25 feet of frontage so they could build a house. They had purchased the property with the understanding that it was a buildable lot. After they purchased it they found that it did not meet county requirements. The Board's attorney suggested that the Board could not issue a variance because they currently had no frontage--an easement is not frontage. He suggested that they get a letter from the seller that states that the seller will grant them or sell them partial or joint ownership in the easement and that the easement be larger than 25 feet because the BZA has never approved a variance for such a small frontage. The case was continued to the next meeting, which will be held on October 26.

My picture for today is of the brain that I found in my yard. I wonder if it is good to eat.

As you probably realize, it is a mushroom or puffball--some kind of fungus that has sprouted as a result of the heavy rain a week or so ago.

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