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

Friday, July 6, 2018

July is already here

Monday's Commissioners meeting was mostly uneventful. First on the agenda was a recommendation from the Plan Commission to rezone a parcel in Jordan Township from A1 to A3, a changed needed for a proposed hog farrowing farm. There was discussion with comments from the audience. My guess is that the concerns from Carpenter Creek Winery were the ones that worried the Commissioners the most. CC has argued in all the regulatory meetings that they may be affected by emissions and bacteria from the operation that will be about a mile and a half away. Eventually the motion to approve the rezone passed with one for and one abstention. (Kendall Culp who chairs the meetings only votes to break ties.) The proposed farm still needs a variance from the BZA and that will be on the July agenda.

There was an agenda item about public works projects. The County wants to use its own labor force (employees of the County Highway Department) to resurface some roads and the law says that the public must be able to comment on that use. There were no comments.

NIPSCO wanted to close two roads between DeMotte and Wheatfield while they install a gas pipeline. They are not using the County right-of-way but are concerned about safety. The Commissioners told them that they could not close the road but could put up signs to indicate the road was closed to thru traffic and open only to local traffic.

Both Community Corrections and the Sheriff requested permission to fill vacancies and the requests were approved. The Sheriff was concerned about some areas where farmers had planted corn into the County right-a-way making intersections blind. The agreed-on procedure for these cases was to contact the farmer of property owner and give them 24 hours to correct the situation and if nothing was done the County Highway Department would mow back the offending rows.

The County Recorder requested and had approved an ordinance that deals with watermarking documents. The Commissioners approved a contract with Trane for work on Community Corrections and the County Jail.

The Commissioners then took up a revised ordinance for CAFO setbacks that the Plan Commission had sent to them. The old ordinance required that any CAFO be 1320 ft from the property line. That setback is one of the most restrictive in the  State of Indiana. At its last meeting the Plan Commission had approved changing the ordinance to 1320 feet from CAFO foundation to foundation of a primary structure (this is called the buffer zone) and 500 feet to roadways and property lines. After discussion, the Commissioners sent the ordinance back to the Plan Commission recommending that the set backs to roads and property lines be 200 feet and that mention of maneuvering areas be eliminated. If the Plan Commission accepts these recommendations, the ordinance becomes effective and does not have to come back to the Commissioners.

In the afternoon the Drainage Board met. It heard from State Representative Gutwein on an attempt to address issues of Kankakee River flooding by having all eight or nine counties in the watershed cooperate. The Board also approved drainage plans for two proposed hog farms, the one under consideration for Jordan Township and the proposed farm raising pigs for medical research. In the former case, the Board altered the plan to reduce runoff further. In both cases there will be no more or less run off after the project is completed than there is currently. There were other items on the agenda but I did not think they looked interesting so I left.

The Rensselaer Park Board meeting scheduled for Monday evening was cancelled.

The weather on the 4th and before was very hot and muggy. That should have resulted in a big crowd at the swimming pool, but little storms with lightning and thunder kept popping up and kept the pool closed. On the 4th I watched fireworks that neighbors were setting off with a background of lightning displays from storms in Lake County. A cold front passed through on Thursday bringing rain and less humidity.

The big rains from a couple weeks ago have resulted in an abundance of mosquitoes. The annual invasion of the Japanese beetles is underway. On a happier note, I have seen several Monarch butterflies.
Blueberry season has begun with the U-Pick farms in northern Jasper County open.

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