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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Several meetings

Since I need a picture to attract attention on Facebook, here are two from the wet water treatment plant showing the completion of the piping that will take water from the plant to the river. In the first you see what may be the last concrete pour on the project (though I have thought many previous pours might be the last). It is sealing the connection between the culvert and the catch basin. (Terms may be totally incorrect.)
Below is the complete union.
I found five meetings to attend on Monday and Tuesday. On Monday evening the Jasper County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) met to consider two cases, both quite simple and both from the northern part of the county. In the first a couple wanted a variance. They had purchased a landlocked property on the assumption that it was buildable but found that it was not when they applied for a building permit They had an easement to the property, but the code says that they need to own the access. So they had purchased access, but it was only 60 feet wide and that required a variance because the code wants 250 feet of frontage. In the second case two brothers wanted to split a parcel to build houses but the split would leave the frontage at 230 feet and the code says that it should be 250. Both cases were approved.

Next the Jasper County Plan Commission met. Their first case came from a gentleman who wants to build storage lockers (at least that is what I think he is planning) on two lots a bit to the west of KV high school, next to the Franciscan Wheatfield Health Center. There were a number of people attending who seemed to be opposed, but they never got a chance to state their concerns because the petitioner had not had the sign he was supposed to have posted up long enough and he did not send the 118 notices to neighbors early enough. (The location is north of a very large subdivision.) The case was continued to the April meeting.

The second case was someone who wanted approval for a two lot subdivision, which meant he wanted to sell two of his five acres so someone else could build a house. It was approved. There was then a short discussion of procedures and the need to simplify them so they did not contradict one another and they would be easier to understand by the public. There was unhappiness expressed with the UDO. That discussion was continued to the next meeting.

As I left these meetings I saw a notice for a PTABOA meeting on Tuesday morning. The meeting of Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals began with the three members being sworn in by County Clerk. The Board had two items on their agenda, both churches requesting tax exemption for properties. One in Remington had purchased an adjacent house and was planning on demolishing it. The other was a church that I think is in DeMotte that had moved into the facilities of another church. State laws says that they should be exempt from property taxes but the PTABOA has to check and make sure that they are what they say they are.

On Tuesday evening the Jasper County Historical Society met at 6:30 to hear the story of the plane crash of March 23, 1947, two days short of the 70th anniversary of the crash. The story had been told last summer and the Rensselaer Republican reported on it at that time. Two young men who had served in the army at the end of WWII had taken the free lessons to fly a plane that were offered to vets and were flying recklessly in the McCoysburg area, buzzing homes. As they tried to do a loop, their engine stalled and they crashed into a small pond. Despite efforts to save them, they perished. It turns out that the plane they were flying had a gravity-fed fuel line so that it could not be flown upside down. When they did the loop, they were too close to the ground to recover from the engine stall. The entire meeting can be viewed on Facebook in the feed of the Jasper County Historical Society.

In the business section of the meeting, which I viewed via the video because I left early to go the Jasper County Council meeting, updates  to several projects were reported. The most interesting was the upcoming restoration of the log cabin at the fairgrounds that will take place during fair week. There will be log cabin experts who will explain how restoration is done and members of the public will be invited to help in the restoration process. There will be much more publicity as fair time approaches and this looks like it may be an interesting part of the fair this year.

The other item of interest is that the family of the late Sandra Gersbach donated Indian artifacts that she had collected and that they will be sorted and categorized in the near future. I have long thought that the historical society should have something on the pre-European populations of our area and perhaps this will be the foundation on which to build that story.

The Jasper County Council meeting had a short agenda. Not on the agenda was a quick update by the County Clerk on the special referendum for the Tri-County School Corporation in May. At the next meeting she will ask for funding to support the election but she expects that the school corporation will reimburse her office for those expenses.

There were three items from Animal Control. One was a request to use some money from the donation fund for security cameras, another was a request to transfer money to purchase a washing machine, and the last was a request from the Animal Control Board  for a bonus for the director, who is being paid at the level of a shelter worker, not as a manager. For this last item, the Council told the Board they needed to go first to the Commissioners.

The meeting ended with a discussion of the local income tax, which is no longer called the local option income tax. Gary Fritts noted that Jasper County is in the top ten in the state in terms of income tax (it is third) but in the bottom ten in terms of property tax (Rein Bonteger said it was 4th), and that he was OK with that. He preferred that the taxes be based on income rather than property. He also noted that many counties were raising their income taxes and few were lowering theirs. There were questions about how the county gets back the income taxes and how much is kept in the stabilization fund. Apparently the revenues that the county gets are based on taxes two years earlier. This discussion will continue in future meetings.

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