April 24, 2006

 

 

 

The Ellettsville, Indiana, Town Council met in regular session on Monday, April 24,  2006, at the Fire Department Training and Conference Room.  Patrick Stoffers called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.  William Evans led the Pledge of Allegiance. Lisa Creech led in prayer.

 

Roll Call:  Members present were Patrick Stoffers, President; William Evans, Vice President; Phillip Rogers, Lisa Creech and Dennis Williamson. Mike Spencer, Attorney was also present.  Sandra Hash, Clerk-Treasurer was attending a conference.

 

Supervisors Present:   Jim Ragle, Jim Davis, Jay Humphrey, Frank Nierzwicki, Mike Farmer and Jeff Farmer were present.  

 

Approval of the minutes

Lisa Creech made a motion to approve the minutes for the regular meeting of April 10, 2006.  William Evans seconded.  Motion carried.

 

Action to Pay Accounts Payable Vouchers

 

Lisa Creech made a motion to pay Accounts Payable Vouchers. William Evans seconded.  Motion carried.

 

Ordinances on First Reading

 

Ordinance 06-09 amending the Ellettsville Town Code Section 152.261 concerning signs

 

Frank Nierzwicki, Director of Planning Services stated this ordinance is a clarification.  This Code was updated in 2004 and some items were omitted.  The Code is presently written to say “signs can not be lighted in Ellettsville”.  This ordinance will allow lighted signs.  When the code was updated in 2004, Richland Plaza was not in the Town limits, if any signs were updated or changed in Richland Plaza, they would have to be much smaller in size to comply with the present ordinance.  This ordinance is more of a correction issue.  It was brought up and passed at the last Plan Commission meeting.  Lisa Creech asked if there are any businesses waiting for this ordinance to pass to make any changes.  Frank said there is nothing “earth shattering” if they waited another two weeks for the second reading.  Richland Plaza was looking into modernizing their signage and the individual doing the work started studying the Town Ordinance and found the problem.  There is no urgency to have it passed tonight. 

 

Guest – Rick Cornstuble, Candidate for Congress

 

Mr. Cornstuble is running for Congress in the 4th District and asked to address the Town of Ellettsville.  He has been through Ellettsville many times when attending meetings in Bloomington.  He just retired from the Indiana State Teachers Association after 31 years and they often met in Bloomington.  The upcoming primary is very important for all candidates and he is encouraging everyone to vote.  He is a Navy Veteran and he is the only candidate running in the 4th District who is on Social Security so his interest in Social Security and Medicare is pretty keen.  He spoke about the gas prices and would like to see this country be very aggressive in bio-fuels, bio-diesel and the ethanol fuels creating serious markets for our farmers.  He then spoke about helping his father work through his Medicare part D and it clearly needs to be a changed.

 

Supervisors’ comments

 

Jim Davis, Ellettsville Fire Department presented the Council with a Funding Chart for a new Aerial Truck they plan to purchase.  They have worked on donations to reduce the use of tax dollars.  The revenue from donations was less than expected; however, they are far enough along to advertise for bids.  The chart shows an estimate of what the truck will cost and approximately how much cash is on hand.  He explained a down payment will provide a price break on the equipment itself.  The Town will have to borrow the money for seven years. They took the total assessed value between the Town and the Township and came up with a rate so residents of the Town and the Township pay the same percentage on the truck.  Both the Town and the Township have a Cumulative Fund in place to provide for the replacement of equipment so there will not be a tax increase.  The next step is to meet with the Trustee this week and work out the final details and advertise for bids.  He is pushing this because he would like to purchase a “stock truck” which is cheaper but they only make so many.  If a contract is assured to purchase one of these, it reduces the price and it will save the Town $50,000 to $60,000 in future price increases.  A price increase is scheduled in June and he is trying to beat that deadline.  Patrick asked if there will be a problem committing the Cumulative Fund for repayment.  Jim said they are not committing the entire Cumulative Fund.  The annual Cumulative Fund revenue will exceed the loan payments and as time goes on that margin will increase.  Patrick then asked “what would you estimate your likelihood of consummating this with the Township?  Do you think you can make it a done deal this week?”  Jim says he hopes to make this a done deal Wednesday.  Patrick’s concern is between now and October there will probably be two increases in the Federal Funds target rate which will trickle down to interest payments.  Jim will also advertise for the cheapest interest rate before any agreement is signed. 

 

Dennis Williamson reminded everyone May 2nd we vote in the primary.  The local paper has listings of voting places since there have been some changes this year. 

 

William Evans echoed Dennis’ sentiments about voting. 

 

Privilege of the Floor – non Agenda Items

 

Karen Sherfick, resident of Meadowlands Subdivision would like to voice her concerns about people speeding and driving recklessly through the neighborhood.  She first read a statement in its entirety from resident Steve Porter from 802 Clover Drive who could not make it to the meeting:

To:  Town Council

I am unable to attend this meeting but would like to express my deep concern for the speed problem by motorists going through the Meadowlands to get to Kelli Heights.  I have seen motorists reach speeds I know over 50 mph at night on Clover Drive.  My neighbor’s son had to jump off of the sidewalk a few years back to keep from being hit.  If something is not done some one will get hurt.  I personally am surprised that some one has not come through my living room wall at some of the speeds I have seen.  Kids take the curve coming out of Kelli Heights on Meadowlands Drive and then a hard left on to Clover Drive in storms and other hazardous conditions.  Stop sign at Meadowlands and Clover Drive is run often at night.  The three straight a ways are drag strips.  I hope this place will be safe for my grandchildren and the children that live here. (Option speed bumps) better yet close Meadowlands Drive off to Kelli Heights.  This unused portion of Meadowlands Drive would be a great place for kids to play basketball instead of in the street.  Thank you, Steve Porter.

 

She read a list from Tanda Stockman of 774 Meadowlands Drive. 

  • A few years ago Ms. Stockmann’s house was hit by a car coming around the curve too fast.  Ms. Sherfick spoke with the police about this; they remembered this happening and filing a report.
  •  Ms. Stockmann also listed cars taking the corner too fast and driving up on the curbs and sidewalks to compensate. 
  • Her fence post was taken out by a woman who was not driving too fast but was in an unfamiliar car, looked down to find something and lost control of the car.  This happened in the summer with good driving conditions.  She mentioned this showed how dangerous the curve is with a good driver obeying the speed limit.
  • In the winter there have been slick roads.  The driver of a van spun out of control around the curve and ended up facing the opposite direction two houses from the outside of the curb and ended up in a yard next to boys playing basketball.
  • Drag racers are still a problem.  There was a State Police Officer (Ryan Miller) who lived in the neighborhood and he informed Ms. Sherfick he was also concerned about the speeders in the neighborhood.  He stopped a 12 year boy driving a car.
  • Numerous drunk drivers.  Ms. Sherfick was on the phone, looking out the window and a car came up into her yard and almost hit her front window.

 

Ms. Sherfick has a 2 and 4 year old that can not play in the front yard because she does not know who will come up into the yard or sidewalk.  A young driver came “flying down” from the Kelli Heights addition and she yelled at him but he just looked at her, smirked and floored it.  She called the police with her concerns.  The police were in the addition last week and stopped 15 people in 30 minutes and issued 9 tickets.  She suggests putting speed bumps in or close off the addition to Kelli Heights.  She is very concerned about the safety of the children.  While walking on the sidewalk she could feel the air off the car driving by so fast.  She does not feel safe in her own neighborhood and something needs to be done.  Patrick stated the Council will take her suggestions and have the Street Commissioner, Director of Planning and Police figure something out.  She spoke with someone at the Street Department and they told her to attend the Town Council meeting and then they could put in speed bumps if they are given direction to do so.  The Street Department does have a problem plowing out the speed bumps in the snow.  She suggested the wider and lower to the ground speed bumps (Covenanter Drive in Bloomington) or even if the speed bumps were located on the two main roads and before the curve. 

 

Allisson Seiler lives on the corner of Meadowlands and Daisy Drive.  She can attest to the cars “screaming” by early in the morning.  She has twin two year olds (one with special needs); try stopping a toddler in a walker.  There is a creek in front of her yard; in the winter people speed down the hill and have stopped literally two feet away from going into the creek.  There are skid marks and they have taken out the street signs.  This is a big concern since she has two small children living on the corner.  It is a race track when the cars come down the hill. 

 

Tammy Milah lives at 913 Clover Drive.  The Kelli Heights traffic comes straight down Meadowlands which is their access through the subdivision in the morning.  In the evening the traffic comes down Daisy Drive to Clover Drive.  It is a rarity for them to stop at the stop sign and the average speed past her house is 45 mph.  She has two small children and between 6 adjacent homes there are 15 children.  Now imagine how many children are in the entire neighborhood.  She purchased and displayed a Little Tykes man holding a sign (resembling a child) and someone stole it.  It is sad her children can not play in the front yard because they may get hit.  They can not ride their bikes on the sidewalk.  She stopped, while in her car, to check her mail and was almost hit from a car swinging around from Kelli Heights.  She is tired and does not think speed bumps are the answer; she feels the access road should be closed because it is not an assistance to the neighborhood in any way, it is a hindrance and unsafe for the children.

 

Karen Sherfick added there are 12 children that live on her corner of Meadowlands Drive.  She reiterated the street signs were “taken out”, a pile of bricks were hit instead of hitting a lady and there are a lot of children in this neighborhood.  Allisson Seiler announced 11 children on the corner of Daisy Drive

 

Tim Harris has lived at 902 Clover Drive for four years.  He had his house built considering this was a safe area and not knowing what they would be up against as time went on.  Two weeks after he moved in (before they limited parking on the street) he had a car parked on the street.  A gentleman came around the corner, lost control of his car and hit Mr. Harris’ car.  Mr. Harris was standing three houses down and the gentleman driving the car moved the small compact car 50 – 60 feet.  Mr. Harris had another car side swiped on the same road.  He then told of an incident one night after work.  He had a car behind him, he was doing close to the speed limit, slowing down to turn into his driveway; the inpatient man behind him neglected seeing Mr. Harris turning and decides to speed up and pass him on the left.  The man ended up in Mr. Harris’s front yard and almost hitting his wife and two children in the yard talking to the neighbor.  The gentleman proceeded to cuss Mr. Harris out and almost coming to fists because Mr. Harris turned in front of the man trying to get into his own driveway.  This started three houses from the end of street after turning a corner.  This younger man drove off towards Kelli Heights.  Mr. Harris has two children and he does not feel comfortable with them playing in the front yard with the speed the cars go on Clover Drive.  He has been outside numerous nights in the summer time and has seen the cars hit 50 – 60 mph from one end of the street to the other.  He has also witnessed people feuding and chasing each other in the cars.  It is a concern.

 

Tara McWhirter lives in the Meadowlands Development.  She agrees with everything that has been said this evening.  She does not have any children but she does use the sidewalks and does not want to get run over.  She addressed N. Lakeview Drive and the safety of that street accessed off SR 46.  She has found Monroe County governs some of the property along the drive and Ellettsville governs others.  She questioned: 

  • Who is responsibly for the drive?
  • What is the drive zoned? Commercial, residential or a mix?
  • Where is the demarcation? 

She e-mailed the Ellettsville Street Department September of last year inquiring about Lakeview Drive but never received a response.  The following points are what she questioned in the email and they are still valid today.  Although she has no facts to present about the accident rates of this street, she can confidently assert this information is truly a bad accident waiting to happen.

  • North Lakeview Drive is very narrow and has no shoulder, paved shoulder or personal property shoulder.  Other objects are close to the street.
  • Mailboxes are close to the edge of the street.
  • The edges of the street are breaking away in many areas.  With no shoulder and closely place mailboxes, this is dangerous especially with speeders and those not driving on their side.
  • Property at 5080 N. Lakeview Drive has several semi truck trailers that use this street.  They are parked in the backyard of a residential house.  Damage to the pavement caused by these trucks.  Are these fully loaded trucks allowed on the street?
  • There is no center line painted making it harder to judge how over you need to be in order not to get hit head on.
  • There are no sidewalks.
  • During the winter when this street has snow and ice making it more treacherous to avoid head on collisions.  There is no where to go since there is no shoulder, several trees and mailboxes very close to the street.  She and her husband have almost been hit at least a dozen times since September due to the speeders, the narrowness of the street and its condition. 
  • As a result of the recent storms there are some large fallen trees along this street that have not been cleared away. 
  • There is a large dip near the Forest View Duplexes which tends to flood.  The drain does not handle the excess water well.

Her overall question “Is there a plan to improve this street”?  The condition of the street makes it easier to get hit head on.  If there is no plan, can some of these issues be addressed in the interim?  Patrick said after the meeting they will talk with Frank.  They need to look at a map because in her comments she mentioned there was a joint jurisdiction.  A small part of Lakeview Drive is in Ellettsville and the lions shares in Monroe County.  He will have to look at a map and get the information.  Ms. McWhirter thinks this is urgent enough.  The drivers are speeding when they are in the Meadowlands but the speeding starts from the highway.  Patrick clarified the speed limit is 30 mph in the County on Lakeview so there is a transitional issue of Town, County, Town at this point.

 

Tammy Milah added the semis on Lakeview back up in the Meadowlands Drive.

 

Todd Royer lives on Wildflower Drive which is the safest of the three roads in the Meadowlands.  Several of the residents have e-mailed the Police who have been very responsive and shown up.  He would like to know the distribution of the residents who receive tickets.  How many live in the Meadowlands versus Kelli Heights, Paddington Park and the other areas.  The Meadowlands are being used as a through fare from those residential areas to the highway because you can not turn left on the highway coming off of Chandler Drive.  It is a safety and speeding issue; fundamentally is it a traffic flow issue.  He has noticed the last week there have been recorders at two spots monitoring traffic.  He would like copies of the information.  Patrick said the Town is recording the information and it is available to the residents once it is tabulated.  Mr. Royer asked what prompted the Town to record the traffic.  Patrick answered the Town does this on a routine bases at different areas at different times of the year and this information is available.  Lisa Creech added with the Indiana Open Door Law all you have to do is put your request in writing at

the Clerk’s office and she will give it to the applicable person to access that data.  Mr. Royer went on to say an analysis of where the traffic tickets are from would be insightful. 

 

Ed Bitner, Investigative Services and Protection and Ellettsville resident of Main Street, feels the pain of the residents of the Meadowlands.  He feels safer walking on the sidewalk because there is a shoulder on SR 46.  The highway is used as a quarter track because of the two lanes in one direction.  There is also a speeding motorcycle every morning.  He feels we are in dire need of more paid, not volunteer, Police Officers.  His reason for attending tonight’s meeting is to see if he will be receiving a credit for his sewer bill.  He demonstrated at the last meeting why he felt he deserves a credit.  Patrick stated Mr. Rogers has spent some time discussing this with Mike Farmer of the Utilities Department.  Phillip Rogers met with Mike Farmer and they decided this was an unfortunate accident but the Town’s liability ends at the meter.  Once it goes through the meter, it is out of our control and we therefore do not feel we should credit you the amount of the sewer.  Ed is not denying it went through the meter, the part he is up to discussing is the fact he filed a report, the water was standing in the front yard and did not go through the sewer.  The Town Board has heard other rejection reports that have gone through the utility department, which he knows of.  They appealed to the Town and the Town grants the fact the sewer portion “only” can be given up and not payable.  He asked for and was not granted someone to come down, look at the ground and see the water did not go into the sewer.  Ed gave Patrick a copy of the report showing Mike Farmer denied the fact.  Lisa Creech asked Ed how much money he is asking for.  Ed said $8.00.  Patrick stated “It is one thing if a pipe breaks underneath a foundation and the water clearly does not enter the waste water system.  It is a different situation and would be a terrible president to set every time a kid hopped a fence and turned on someone’s outdoor faucet that people would come down and we would automatically credit the utility bill.  That is a slippery slope we do not want to go to”.  Ed gave an unproven example of water being turned on by kids and making an ice skating rink. 

 

Lisa Creech made a motion that we give him the credit of $8.00 on his sewer bill.  Motion failed for lack of second.

 

Ed went on to say “On that note he would make sure every body has noticed to please come out and vote Tuesday, May 2nd.  As you see how the Town Board presently operates”.

 

Patrick Stoffers adjourned the meeting at 8:13 p.m. Lisa Creech interrupted to say she understands what the Meadowlands is going though.  She feels people need answers when an issue is brought to the Council.  She gave some examples of issues with speeders in her neighborhood.  The Police were called and the speeders were cited with “Criminal Mischief” which is worse than getting a speeding ticket.  The word spread real quickly.  There was another gentleman who spoke to the Board and was so upset with the Meadowlands speeding problem that he ended up moving.  She knows the problem is bad and has been going on for a while.  The Town needs to address and take care of it.  Tammy Milah said several houses are constantly changing hands.   There was a lengthy discussion between the people in the audience and Lisa Creech.  No one approached the podium to speak. 

 

Karen Sherfick reiterated many homes going up for sale.  Also another neighbor put toys on the sidewalk and close to the curb to let people know children were playing.  Cars still did not slow down.

 

Tammy Milah brought up Halloween and the cars speeding through that night.  Lisa suggested requesting the road closure for the coming Halloween.  Tammy then asked when will there be a response to tonight’s requests.  Lisa explained she is the Street Department Liaison and will speak with Jim Ragle about speed bumps and Patrick will look in project costs by the next meeting, May 8th.  They will have some preliminary answers.  Ms. Milah would like an answer to closing the access road.  Lisa responded that generally there is connectivity between subdivisions increasing the property value. 

 

Karen Sherfick spoke with a Police Officer who said Meadowlands is the worse he has ever seen and was very concerned.  He was the only officer on duty at that time and could not spend anymore time monitoring.  They need more police officers.  Ms. Milah said the only benefit to Meadowlands having the access road is as a thoroughfare.  Lisa said the Board will look at Bloomington and the different options they have.  William Evans asked what time of the day did they speak to the officer?  Ms. Sherfick said 5:30 to 6 p.m.

 

Tresh Norris inquired if the neighbors get to vote on what will be done or would the Town just do it.  He does not want speed bumps.  He would rather have more patrolling to bring in more revenue for the Town.  Lisa said everything will be discussed in a public meeting.  She also reiterated speed bumps are a big cost on the snow plows and all the options needs to be weighed.  Patrick commented the Ellettsville proceeds on speeding tickets are $3.00.  The rest goes to the County and State.

 

Adjournment

 

Patrick Stoffers adjourned the meeting at 8:22 p.m.