November 1, 2012
The Ellettsville, Indiana Plan Commission met in regular
session on Thursday, November 1, 2012, in the Fire Department Training and
Conference Room located at
Roll Call: Members present were: Dan Swafford, President; Don Calvert, Phillip Rogers, Russ Ryle, Phillip Smith and Sandra Hash. Terry Baker was absent. Connie Griffin, Director of Planning, Darla Brown, Town Attorney, and Rick Coppock, Bynum Fanyo and Associates, Town Engineer, were also present.
Approval of the Minutes – October 2, 2012
Connie Griffin, Planning Director, requested a few changes to the minutes. Dan Swafford entertained a motion for approval of the October 2, 2012 minutes as amended. Phillip Smith so moved. Russ Ryle seconded. Motion carried.
Griffin, Director of Planning, presented a map that showed the project
location. This is zoned Commercial 3 and
is a correct land use for this classification.
It is located at 5971 N. Brown’s Drive.
The project area is 0.9 acres.
This is a 15 unit apartment complex and each unit has laundry
facilities. One unit is
The Richland Senior project proposes a total of 18 parking spaces with two reserved for people with disabilities. The Town requires two parking spaces for each dwelling unit, and Indiana Code 5-16-9-2 bases accessible parking on the total number of parking spaces of the apartment complex. Therefore, the required number of accessible parking spaces is one. The plan, as submitted, currently exceeds the state requirement by offering two accessible spaces. Since a total of 30 parking spaces, including one accessible parking space, are required by Town Code, a reduction of parking spaces will require a BZA hearing for approval of the plan as submitted. The Plan Commission also reviews proposed projects for compliance with the Ellettsville Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan is a guiding tool for numerous planning elements, which covers infrastructure, utilities, zoning, transportation and traffic, safety, fire, police and more. The Ellettsville Thoroughfare Plan is contained within the Comprehensive Plan. The Ellettsville Thoroughfare Plan contains a road classification system map with typical pavement cross section requirements for local, minor and major collector streets in the Town. The Planning Commission references for local, minor and major collector streets in the Town. The Planning Commission references the cross section specifications when reviewing project plans, as well as input from the Ellettsville Street Department, the Planning Director’s recommendations and the Thoroughfare Plan.
Currently, the senior complex proposes a 20’ pavement width, as compared to the Thoroughfare Plan’s 24’ pavement width requirement for local streets. The proposed reduction of pavement width will require a BZA hearing for approval of the plan as submitted.
Dennis Fisher, Representative of Richland Senior Housing Project, explained they’ve read the October 24, 2012, letter from the Department of Planning. They’re waiting to see what the Plan Commission has to say about it.
commented the last plan has the connecting road from
Griffin, Director of Planning, read the following excerpts from the October 8,
2012, Town Council minutes as follows: “Scott Oldham has an issue with ingress and egress, particularly for the
emergency vehicles. His concern is this,
and any other project, needs to have a road constructed that is suitable to
handle the largest piece of emergency equipment in the county at speed. In this case it would be Truck 79 and
Dan Swafford stated clearly the Fire Department says they can make the turn so it’s up to the Plan Commission to make a decision on whether or not it’s to stay an emergency exit only or another ingress/egress which he knows the Petitioner is against.
Russ Ryle stated he had a conversation with Mike Cornman who indicated in order to bring Truck 79 out that drive they would have to put the nose out on Matthews, make a partial turn, then back up and take a second pass at it. By no means would they make it in one pass or at speed. There are a total of 87 apartments they might have to use as emergency access. From a safety standpoint, and being disabled, he’s extremely uncomfortable with building the mouse trap.
Phillip Rogers stated they couldn’t make a turn off the top of the road on to Matthews at speed; they would have to slow down because it’s a steep grade. He thinks the truck could make the turn.
Dennis Fisher stated he, Fire Chief Jim Davis and someone else questioned turning on to Matthews and they answered it wouldn’t be a problem to turn the truck on to Matthews. Mr. Swafford said he was the one that had asked the question and it is in the minutes.
Don Calvert thought he had gathered from last month’s meeting the
Petitioner might consider another set of apartments in the area. Mr. Fisher said those would be off of
Russ Ryle commented when there’s an issue of an emergency the
question is where the emergency is located.
If they’ve got a fire in a building, whether under construction or
existing, it affectively blocks the road in front and round it. Keep thinking of the access to Matthews as an
exit but in an emergency there are several scenarios where that’ll be the only
way in to get to a structure. There
could be a fire involving a building under this project or an existing building
and functionally it would block the east/west drive on the north end of
Guerrettaz, Bledsoe Riggert and Guerrettaz, said his understanding is the Fire Chief
said the roadway is accessible the way it is.
They’re improving it. When they
approached the Plan Commission they had two points. The width of the pavement is not a problem on
Brown. They looked at the letter the
Dan Swafford commented Mr. Guerrettaz brought up a couple of good points. On the issues that do not conform to the Town or state codes will have to go the BZA. He requested clarification of the procedures for the BZA meeting from the Town Attorney.
Darla Brown, Town Attorney, thinks the two choices are: If there are development plan issues they can deny the petition based on the fact that the plan as submitted does not meet the code. Then if the petitioner wants to go the BZA the petitioner can. Or, they can table the petition in order to give the petitioner time to go to the BZA to find out if they can get their variances. Then they can come back before the Plan Commission. Mr. Guerrettaz asked if he could offer one more choice. The Plan Commission could approve the petition based on the outcome of the BZA hearing. Mr. Swafford asked if he meant it would be with a conditional approval. Mr. Guerrettaz replied yes, they can give conditional approval with the BZA. If the BZA doesn’t see a problem with the number of parking spaces or having the cars parked in the setback then it can be approved subject to those two items. Ms. Brown stated she has a problem with that because the statute says “The Plan Commission must approve or disapprove a development plan.” The statute also says “The Plan Commission must review a plan to determine if it satisfies the development requirements.” There is really no room in the statute or the case law she can find to suggest that they can grant conditional approval upon another board doing or not doing something. If they give conditional approval they’re not really approving or disapproving. The other concern is once the Plan Commission declines to grant approval the petitioners have 30 days to initiate an appeal. That time starts to run from when the Plan Commission enters its decision. If an approval is conditioned on the BZA not doing or doing something then that leaves them in a state of flux as to when the appeal time runs. A practical issue is, is it fair to tell another board they’re okay with all of this as long as they do x, y and z? It puts them in a position maybe they don’t want to be in. She reiterated her concern is the statute says approve or disapprove.
asked what the specific issues are. Ms.
Brown replied the first issue is the maneuvering of entering or leaving a
parking space on a public right-of-way which is found in §152.22(A) of the
Ellettsville Town Code. Section
152.224(A)(2) refers to parking spaces located in a street set back. The other issue is the number of parking
spaces. Section 152.223(B) states “Two parking spaces are required for each
unity.” They have 15 units so they
need 30 spaces. There was an issue with
the sidewalk. They’re supposed to be a
width of five feet and the plan shows four feet. She thought she heard the petitioner say at
the last meeting they agreed to set the sidewalks to five feet and she
confirmed that’s not an issue. Mr.
Fisher advised that was correct. On the
north side of the complex, the plan as submitted has a 20’ pavement and
according to §153.081 of the Town Code it’s suppose to have a pavement width of
24’. She recalls at the last Plan
Commission the Petitioner agreed with this and asked if this was correct. Mr. Guerrettaz replied that’s not
correct. They’ve never said they were
putting in the east/west drive on the north side of the unit. They’re not building it to 24’, it will be
20’. It’s a private drive and not a
Coppock, Bynum Fanyo Utilities, Town Engineer, replied all the other private streets in
the complex are 20’ and the part that’s going to be extended is 20’. Mr. Swafford asked if the Town has any
specifications for a private street going in or how wide it should be. Mr. Coppock answered no; it only talks about
public streets. Sandra Hash asked what’s
going to remain 8’. Mr. Coppock replied
nothing that he knows of. Mr. Ryle
further added they’re going to have 10’ on the south end which isn’t even up to
the rest of their private drive standards.
Mr. Coppock noted there are roads in
asked if the Fire Department sends out a lead vehicle ahead of the fire trucks
and engines that can block the road, if necessary, to keep traffic from coming
through so if they have to maneuver if they can. Ms. Hash stated she’s never seen that. Mr. Ryle noted they don’t have control over
an emergency situation, but if something is minimally acceptable it is putting them
on thin ice if they don’t get 20’ of pavement on the south end of
Rick Coppock wanted to clarify maneuvering. It boils down to you can’t back out into a public street. For those parking spaces facing the building people would back out into a portion of the public right-of-way. Mr. Ryle asked what the depth of the shortest space is. Mr. Coppock said it’s a standard size space of 18 feet.
Phillip Smith asked what the difference is for those people backing out into the public right-of-way and him backing out of his driveway on to the street he lives on. Mr. Coppock replied it is in the multi-family unit section. It states you can’t back out on to the public right-of-way. Mr. Swafford reminded everyone that this is what’s going to the BZA. The Plan Commission won’t be making this decision.
Phillip Rogers asked how many people own a car in their complex. Dennis Fisher stated Carson Hayes verified their parking lots aren’t full. Mr. Fisher added not everyone owns a car. It is less than one car per unit and the lots are split up among all the units.
Darla Brown thinks the points Mr. Fisher raised are to be discussed at the BZA. Mr. Swafford commented it would make more sense for the Plan Commission to table this issue until after the BZA meets. Perhaps they could have a special meeting to speed up the process.
Bernie Guerrettaz asked if they go to the BZA and return to the Plan Commission for approval can they put in their motion that they’ll limit the discussion to the two items the BZA heard. They started at the Plan Commission one month ago wanting to know if they had to go to the BZA, what the process was and what they needed to do. He doesn’t know why they had to come back for this meeting. They’ve accomplished some things at this meeting.
Mr. Swafford said they’ve worked it out to where they’ve decided how to approach it. They really had to figure this out.
The meeting was adjourned for a recess.
The meeting was reconvened.
Russ Ryle wants legal clarification on what their options are. It’s his understanding the process is the Plan Commission makes a ruling and if they don’t like the ruling they can appeal to the BZA. If the BZA gives them an adverse ruling they’re not in agreement with then they go to a court. Ms. Brown replied or they could return to the Plan Commission and re-petition. Mr. Ryle asked under what condition does the BZA get involved with a project before the Plan Commission has given what the petitioner considers an adverse ruling. Ms. Brown answered she doesn’t see any problems with either the Plan Commission denying it or tabling it and sending it the BZA. Mr. Ryle commented it would be the expedient thing because with these people time is of the essence. Wouldn’t the expedient thing be for the Plan Commission to deny it on these two points and if the BZA over rules them then they’re good to go. If not, they’ve got a clear position to work from a court’s standpoint. The point is if they table it and the BZA rules, they return in December and they still are not happy they’re looking at January and February to run this the rest of the way through the process. Where tonight they can put them in a position to go to BZA this month and they’re going to be in a quicker position to proceed on their project. Ms. Brown commented the Plan Commission could do either one. They don’t want to grant approval conditioned upon the BZA decision. Mr. Swafford asked if someone makes a motion to approve it and it gets passed then do they even have to go to the BZA. Ms. Brown answered if it passes, it passes. They would have to find that the development plan meets the standards of the code.
Don Calvert asked if they can legally let the petitioner go to the BZA and its approved will they return to the Plan Commission and would it be acceptable. As it stands right now with the violations, it’s not acceptable. If the BZA said these two problems right now are okay and they accept that then it should go on through. Ms. Brown said she thinks he’s talking about a conditional approval. If the Plan Commission approved it based on the condition that the BZA granted the variance and the two issues that have been discussed concerns her. Mr. Calvert clarified the BZA could either approve or deny it and then it would return to the Plan Commission. Mr. Swafford asked if he was suggesting tabling it, letting them go the BZA and then return to the Plan Commission. Mr. Ryle said if they want to limit the issues to two issues before the BZA, the Plan Commission needs to deny it and they specifically state the two issues. Those issues then become the two that go the BZA. If the BZA tells them they can go ahead “as is” then it’s over. If the BZA denies their petition then it goes to court. Mr. Guerrettaz commented a denial by the Plan Commission would cause it to start over.
Darla Brown doesn’t know that they would have to start completely over and do two hearings. They would have to come back for one more meeting. Mr. Swafford said his thoughts are it would be a lot cleaner if it was tabled. Mr. Calvert confirmed what they’re shifting to is a solution to get the two issues in front of the BZA. He thinks they need to focus on getting them to the BZA. The BZA will either approve or reject it and that should solve it.
Dan Swafford entertained a motion to move this forward. Phillip Smith made a motion to table the Richland Senior Center Project, Docket Number 10042012-1 based upon the two violations they’ve discussed tonight which are the number of parking spaces under §152.223(B) of the Code and under §§152.222(A) and 152.224(A)(2), the maneuvering and backing out into a public right-of-way. Don Calvert seconded. Roll Call Vote: Dan Swafford – yes; Don Calvert – yes; Phillip Rogers – no; Russ Ryle - no; Phillip Smith - yes and Sandra Hash – yes. Motion carried 4-2.
Dan Swafford explained the Petitioner needs to schedule a BZA meeting with Connie Griffin, Director of Planning. After the petitioner goes through this process he will entertain a special meeting to expedite their petition. The Petitioner will have to bear the costs of a special meeting. Sandra Hash advised the Plan Commission members make $30 per meeting. Ms. Griffin explained it will be approximately 14 days for them to get a BZA hearing.
Russ Ryle asked Connie Griffin if the BZA has a full board. Ms. Griffin replied they are one member short. Mr. Swafford noted they have four people serving on the BZA board.
Dan Swafford announced if there is anyone wanting to serve on the BZA to contact him. They can submit letters to the Clerk-Treasurer’s office in Town Hall.
Dennis Fisher asked if the BZA approves their request, do they return to the Plan Commission. Mr. Swafford replied they will have to return to the Plan Commission because it has been tabled.
Dan Swafford entertained a motion to adjourn. Don Calvert seconded. Dan Swafford adjourned the meeting at 7:19 p.m.