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

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Three meetings

Monday evening featured three public meetings. First up was the Rensselaer City Council meeting. Stephen Eastridge began with a report on what the Jasper County Economic Development Organization (JCEDO) was doing. In 2018 he was busy building relationships regionally and in 2019 he hopes to focus on relationships within the County. He said that his efforts were aimed more at helping businesses within the County grow than on attracting new businesses. Councilman Odle agreed that that focus made a lot of sense. The City of Rensselaer supports financially JCEDO and the Council approved a semi-annual contribution of $5000.

The Council clarified its action at the last meeting regarding a request by Good Oil for support in attaching to the City's sewer system. The City is willing to take sewage from businesses on the west side of the I-65/SR 114 interchange and will help with the permitting for boring under I-65. The reason that Good Oil wants help in the permitting is that the state does not charge municipalities for obtaining permits.

Consideration of quotes for a new truck for the gas department was delayed to the next meeting so additional quotes can be obtained. Jacob Ahler, who is the City's appointment to the Rensselaer Central School Board, is resigning and there is a need to fill the several months remaining on his term. Anyone interested should contact the Mayor. The reason Ahler is resigning is that he is now the legal counsel for the Jasper County Council, which meets at the same time that the School Board meets (which is why this blog only rarely covers what is happening  at School Board meetings.).

It appears that most of the City and County will be shut down on Wednesday and Thursday. The City announced early on Monday that the trash and recycling pickup for Wednesday will be postponed until Thursday and it is likely that it will be further postponed until Friday. The Mayor will decide if City Hall shuts down on Wednesday and Thursday. The County Commissioners have already decided that Jasper County government will be shut down on Wednesday and Thursday. 

The Fire Department has responded to eleven calls from Friday through Monday evening. If you have any water lines that are in danger of freezing, leave a little water running for the next couple of days.

After the meeting I asked a City official about ACD, the company that I saw stringing fiber cable on City utility poles. They are apparently doing the work as a contractor for another, unnamed company and it may be part of a 5-G network. 

The Jasper County BZA and Plan Commission meetings on Monday evening were moved to the third floor of the Court House because of the large crowd. The BZA meeting was first and was short. The Board elected new officers: Scott Walstra as chair and Lance Strange as Vice Chair. Its only agenda item was a variance for a setback. A person wanted to remove an existing structure and replace it with a structure with a somewhat larger footprint. That new structure apparently encroaches on the set back, which is why the variance was needed. It was approved.

The Plan Commission had two new members, David Webb replacing Sandra Putt and Steve Jordan replacing Gerritt DeVries. The officers for 2019 are Kent Korniak as President, Brian Overstreet as Vice President, and James Martin as Secretary. 

The first item on the agenda was the item that brought the crowd, the revised wind farm ordinance that the Commissioners had passed at their January 6 meeting. The attorney for the Commission told members that they could not amend and had only three options. They could  approve what the Commissioners had sent, and if they did, the ordinance would take effect immediately. They could disapprove it, in which case the ordinance would return to the Commissioners, who would then have the option of approving it. If the Commissioners did nothing, the draft that the Plan Commission had approved in November would take effect. Or they could do nothing at all, in which case the draft from the Commissioners would take effect after 45 days.  (I have in past blog posts been mistaken in describing the options available to the Commissioners and the Plan Commission as an ordinance moves from one body to the next. However, the discussion on the Plan Commission revealed that I am not the only one who has had trouble understanding the process.)

There was some discussion. Several members thought that the Commissioners had made some good changes but did not like other things that they had changed, especially the setbacks. The idea that there should be further negotiations was voiced by more than one member. After further discussion, Vince Ubano moved to disapprove the ordinance. His motion passed 6 to 2. 

The second item was an ordinance for solar energy systems. It had been introduced at the previous Plan Commission meeting and tabled so changes could be considered. The new draft had changes for acreage, noise, conservation districts, and fees. The ordinance drew heavily from an similar ordinance from Shelby County. There were concerns that a solar park would limit neighboring property owners but it was clarified that the setbacks were not reciprocal. After some discussion, the item was sent back to committee for further changes and will be brought back for the February 25 meeting.

I do not have any pictures that capture the cold that we are experiencing, but here are two that show the work being done at the Weston Cemetery office building. The first was taken on the 22nd and the second on Monday, the 28th.

I see from Facebook that Remington's Water Tower Days, scheduled for June 8, has been canceled. The reason given was that there were not enough volunteers.

Hunker down and get ready for some of the coldest weather that Rensselaer has ever experienced. Wednesday's forecast high is below zero.

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