October 3, 2013

                                                                                                                                                                       

 

 

 

The Ellettsville, Indiana Plan Commission met in regular session on Thursday, October 3, 2013, in the Fire Department Training and Conference Room located at 5080 West State Road 46.  Terry Baker called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.  Don Calvert led the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

Terry Baker welcomed David Drake to the Plan Commission. 

 

Roll Call:  Members present were:  Terry Baker, President; Russ Ryle, Vice President; Don Calvert, David Drake, Dan Swafford, Pat Wesolowski and Sandra Hash.   Connie Griffin, Director of Planning, and Darla Brown, Town Attorney, were also present.

 

Approval of the Minutes – September 5, 2013

 

Terry Baker entertained a motion for approval of the minutes for the regular meeting on September 5, 2013.  Dan Swafford so moved.  Don Calvert seconded.  Motion carried.

 

New Business

 

Revision to Code 152 Land Usage, Residential – Proposed codes will discuss parking on the grass, junk, outdoor storage and inoperable vehicle storage in residential zones.

 

Connie Griffin, Director of Planning, explained if the codes she has proposed need to be moved in to the correct section she will do so prior to the discussion at Town Council on October 28, 2013.  The code section numbers will change.

 

Sandra Hash asked if the highlighted portions under Purpose were changed since the last meeting.  Ms. Griffin replied it was not changed.  However, since the last meeting, the following changes have been made:

 

§152.002 DEFINITIONS AND TERMS

DOMESTIC LIVESTOCK.  Any animal, other than a domestic pet, that is kept for commercial purposes or is a member of one (1) of the following species:

 


Alpaca

Bison

Elk

Cattle

Donkey

Goat

Horse

Llama

Mule

Ostrich

Emu

Pig

Poultry

Rabbit

Sheep

 



DOMESTIC PET.  A domestic pet means any animal that is a member of one (1) of the following species and is kept for pleasure rather than utility:

 


Cat

Chinchilla

Cockatiels

Dog

Ferret

Gerbil

Guinea Pig

Hamster

Mouse

Parakeets

Rat

Reptile as defined herein

 

§ 152.004 HOME OCCUPATIONS

(J)    Home offices, offsite sales offices, single client personal care salons, medical or therapy offices secondary to a primary office, catering, private craft, art, photographic studios, educational or home products demonstrations with small non regular class areas and enterprises deemed a hobby are allowed by right provided that they conform to the home occupation rules used as guidelines.  All other uses which do not fit the home occupation regulations must petition to the Board of Zoning Appeals for a special exception.

 

§152.053 RESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS FENCING, HEDGES, BERMS AND WALLS

 

Property line was removed from this section.

 

§152.055 Residential Districts Natural Landscaping Regulations

 

A Rain Garden and Natural Landscape Area Registration Form was presented and explained.  This can only be submitted by the property owner.

 

§152.055 Residential Districts Natural Landscaping Regulations

Purpose.  The Town acknowledges the importance of preservation and restoration of natural plant communities in urban, suburban and rural areas.  It further acknowledges the need to enjoy and benefit from the variety, beauty and values of natural landscaping including freedom from toxic chemicals, and seeks to guarantee the citizens the freedom to employ natural landscaping as a viable and desirable alternative to other conventional modes of landscaping with the following restrictions.  The use of wildflowers and other native plants in managed landscape design can be economical, low-maintenance, effective in soil and water conservation, and may preclude the excessive use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.

 

It is not the intent of this code to allow vegetated areas to be unmanaged or overgrown when such growth provides either a direct health hazard or breeding ground for fauna known to create a safety or health hazard. 

1.       Natural landscape permit required.  The permit fee for a natural landscape is $25 payable to the Town of Ellettsville, issued by the Department of Planning.

2.       Natural landscape management plan required.

a.       Proposed natural landscape is being requested.

b.       A statement of intent and purpose for the landscape.

c.        A detailed description of the types of plants and plant succession involved.

d.       Specific management and maintenance techniques to be employed.

e.        Proposed landscaping is to be confined to property owned by the applicant according to current County Assessor’s Records.

f.        Natural landscaping on any Town owned property within any street right-of-way is strictly prohibited.  This shall include the property between the sidewalk and street and not less than ten feet (10’) adjacent to the street where there is not sidewalk.

g.        Natural landscapes shall not be permitted within three feet (3’) of the abutting property unless waived in writing by the abutting property owner on the side or sides affected.  Such waiver shall be affixed to the landscape management plan.

h.       The property owner shall submit to the Director of Planning a drawing, plot plan and/or survey which will show the location of the natural landscape area on the applicant’s property.

i.         The property owner will be notified in writing by the Town of Ellettsville of approval or denial.  If no notification is received within forty-five (45) days of submittal, the plans shall be deemed approved.

j.         The management plan and permit will be filed with the Department of Planning.

3.       It is not the intent of this code to allow vegetated areas to be unmanaged or overgrown when such growth provides either a direct health hazard or provides a demonstrated breeding ground for fauna known to create a safety or health hazard.

4.       The property owner shall allow access to the property for the Director of Planning or designee to conduct a natural landscape inspection for the purpose of completing the natural landscape permit and management plan review, or as needed to conduct maintenance inspection with a twenty-four (24) hour notice.

5.       Plants in the Noxious Weed and Invasive Plant Pests listed below are prohibited in the jurisdiction of the Town of Ellettsville.

6.       Any person receiving a fine notice as specified in §152.056 to remove natural landscaping and does not cause the grass, weeds, natural landscaping or rank vegetation to be removed within ten (10) days of the time of the notice commits a Class E ordinance violation and shall be subject to a fine for each day that the failure to comply shall continue in effect subsequent to the date of the notice.  The fine shall be $25 per day.

7.       All property owners who currently have natural landscapes must file for a permit and submit a plan as to be covered by this ordinance.

8.       Natural landscapes may constitute a fire or safety hazard due to weather conditions or other conditions.  The Director of Planning, or designee, may order natural landscapes to be cut due to such conditions.  As a condition of receiving approval of the natural landscape permit, the property owner shall be required to cut the natural landscape within three (3) days upon receiving a written letter from the Director of Planning, Health Officer of designee.

 

Plant Listing Noxious Weeds

 

Scientific Name

Noxious Common Name

Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop.

Canada thistle

Lythrum salicaria L.

Purple loosestrife

Rosa multiflora Thunb.

Multiflora rose

Sicyos angulatus L.

Burcucumber

Sorghum almum Parodi

Columbus grass

Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench

Shattercane

Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers.

Johnsongrass

 

Indiana’s “Most Unwanted” Invasive Plant Pests


 

 

Asian Bush Honeysuckle(s)

Autumn Olive

Black Locust

Brazilian Elodea

Buckthorn(s)

Canada Thistle

Common Reed; phragmites

Creeping Charlie

Creeping Jenny

Crown Vetch

Curly-Leaf Pondweed

Dame's Rocket

Eurasian Watermilfoil

Garlic Mustard

Japanese Honeysuckle

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Stilt Grass

Kudzu

Multiflora Rose

Norway Maple

Oriental Bittersweet

Periwinkle

Privet(s)

Purple Loosestrife

Purple Winter Creeper

Reed Canary Grass

Siberian Elm

Smooth Brome

Spotted Knapweed

Star-of-Bethlehem

Sweet Clover(s)

Tall Fescue

Tree of Heaven

White Mulberry

Winged Burning Bush

 

 

Connie Griffin advised under §93.16, Disease Control, the fine for trash and things of that nature is $100 and is a Class D ordinance violation.  There may be some Plan Commission members who want to keep all of Chapter 152 as a Class E ordinance violation.

 

§152.056 NATURAL LANDSCAPES APPEAL PROCESS

        (A)(1)     Application for Appeal.  The property owner may appeal a decision to deny or revoke the natural landscape permit request to the Board of Zoning Appeals at an open meeting.  All applications for appeal shall be submitted within fifteen (15) calendar days of the notice of denial of the natural landscape management plan.  The decision rendered by the Board of Zoning Appeals shall be final and binding.

(B)          Written information must be submitted to Town Hall at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the hearing.

 

§152.057 FILING FEES

(A)    Appeal Fee:  $100.

 

§ 152.059 PROHIBITED PARKING RESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS

 

Pat Wesolowski asked if the fines started immediately upon notification or if there was a grace period.  Ms. Griffin replied always gives 10 to 30 days for removal.  If there is a health issue they give additional time.

 

David Drake asked if this is the section that talks about not being able to park on the lawn and asked exactly what it states.  Ms. Griffin read the following:

 

Purpose.  Cars, trucks, boats, campers, and other recreational vehicles can be a fun way to experience the outdoors.  However, storage of these vehicles can be an issue.  Using the street to store such vehicles can create traffic hazards on narrow streets, sight distance and parking issues, and problems with drifting snow in the winter, making it difficult for snowplows to effectively plow Town of Ellettsville streets.

(A)    Campers, motor homes, and other recreational vehicles when parked on private property may only be used as a dwelling for five (5) consecutive days.

(B)    It shall be unlawful for any motor vehicle or other vehicle to park in any alley.  However, this section shall not apply to motor vehicles parking in alleys for a period of not more than one (1) hour for the purpose of loading or unloading the vehicles.

(C)    It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or park any motor vehicle on any portion of a lot, lawn or green space in any residential district other than on a drive or approved parking area.  No person shall operate or park any vehicle over the curb or curb area unless through a properly designed designated curb cut.

(D)    It shall be unlawful to park any motor vehicle or other vehicle or any part of a vehicle on any sidewalk in the Town.  Exception:  parking on any portion of a lot, lawn or green space in a residential district for the purpose of loading or unloading or washing of the motor vehicle not to exceed one (1) hour of time.

(E)    Possession of inoperable vehicles, or vehicles with expired license plates or tags, stored on residential property for more than thirty (30) days.

(F)     A vehicle from which the engine, transmission or differential has been removed or that is otherwise partially dismantled or inoperable and left on private property for more than fourteen (14) days.

(G)    A vehicle that is at least three (3) model years old, is mechanically inoperable and is left on private property continuously in a location visible from public property for more than twenty (20) days.  For purposes of this subdivision, a vehicle covered by a tarpaulin or other plastic, vinyl, rubber, cloth or textile covering is considered to be visible.

(H)   Recreational vehicles, motor vehicles, campers and boats shall be parked on an approved hard surface, framed by landscape timbers or approved materials, and shall not obstruct the sidewalk or public right-of-way.

(I)      Recreational vehicles, motor vehicles or other items shall not block visibility or impede pedestrians on sidewalks and roadways.

(J)      Every boat, detached camper and vehicle except a motor vehicle so stored or parked shall, except when securely attached to a motor vehicle, be securely blocked or restrained from moving, toppling or falling.

(K)    No vehicle shall cause visible rutting on lawns in the moving to and from or in a manner as to create soil erosion or a fire or safety hazard.

(L)    No boat with or without trailer, specialized trailer, travel trailer or camping trailer, detached camper, jet ski, snowmobile, motorcycle, motor cart, all-terrain vehicle or other vehicle shall be parked or stored on any public street or public right-of-way.

(M)  Accessory off-street parking areas required in this section shall be utilized solely for the parking of passenger automobiles or light trucks of less than one ton capacity.  Such parking areas shall not be used for the storage, display, sales, repair, dismantling or wrecking of any vehicle, equipment or material.

 

David Drake has a hard time with this code for different reasons.  This has been tried before and it just doesn’t work.  There are too many people who have no place to park and do park occasionally on the grass.  There was such a firestorm of complaints when they tried to do it before.  Ms. Hash stated rather than enforce those issues it could be complaint driven.  A prior planner and his assistant went all over Town and wrote letters.  However, there were circumstances where people parked in alleys and the grass had grown up through the gravel.  It wasn’t enforced after that.   Mr. Drake will have a difficult time thinking this is a good idea.  Perhaps if it stated a vehicle couldn’t be parked on the grass for more than five days for example. It’s a good idea but the reality is there is inadequate parking.  Ms. Griffin said there are a lot of complaints about people parking on their lawns.  People feel it devalues their properties and degrades their neighborhoods.  If it is determined this is not enforceable she would like to have it stricken from the code.  Mr. Drake realizes the more difficult it is the harder it is to enforce.  It would be more realistic to state people can’t permanently park in their yard but doesn’t mean they can’t occasionally park cars in the grass.

 

Terry Baker commented if they park on the grass then the house across the street is going to be looking at all the rutted places.  Then, they’re back trying to enforce site distance when they park in the corners of their lots or street.  He thinks they need to do something.  Otherwise there will be five to ten cars parked on a yard.  Ms. Hash concurs and thinks they need to avoid permanent parking.  Mr. Baker added the code states people can pull onto their yards to wash their cars so it is a temporary thing.

 

Warren Hoobyar advised the code states people can park in the back yard so long as it doesn’t take up a certain square footage.  Some people park non-working vehicles in the back yard and put tarps over them.  He agrees there needs to be a time limit put on parking vehicles on yards.  Mr.  Baker added the code could state vehicles can’t be parked on the side or front yards.  Mr. Drake said if someone is going to park for a couple of hours he would rather they park in front than drive around to the back.  Ms. Hash said maybe it should state no permanent parking beyond a certain amount of days.  Mr. Wesoloski asked if the code states how much a parking space can be taken from a yard.  Ms. Hash answered it is fifty percent (50%) in the front.  Ms. Wesoloski asked who issues approval for this.  Ms. Griffin replied she issues driveway permits.  Some of the platted areas do not allow for gravel and have to be concrete.  Mr. Wesoloski asked if this was in zoning already why does anything else need to be added.  Ms. Griffin said she removed this from the code.  Mr. Hoobyar said they’ve been successful with requiring vehicles to be removed after 20 days.  Mr. Baker asked where they were moved to.  Mr. Hoobyar replied off the property.  Ms. Hash asked if they were inoperable vehicles.  Mr. Hoobyar said some were plated.  Ms. Griffin noted nothing was resolved.  Mr. Swafford suggested parking on the grass can be permitted up to 30 days to allow time to make an additional driveway area.  Mr. Drake commented then the 30 days would start every time the vehicle was moved.

 

Russ Ryle likes the idea of being more restrictive on what is in plain sight in the front yard versus the back yard.  Is it possible to state parking on the grass in the front yard is only temporarily permitted for loading, unloading, and washing?  In no case should this take more than two to three hours.  As far as parking on the grass in the back yard, it is going to be an enforcement problem.  Looking at properties from the street, you can’t see what’s in the back yard.  Mr. Hoobyar stated if it is in sight or from a public right-of-way you can see it.  But most complaints such as that will come from the neighbors.  To inspect this, they would have to send the offender a right to enter the property.  Mr. Ryle asked how many streets in Ellettsville permit on-street parking.  Ms. Hash answered Vine Street on one side.  Mr. Drake has never understood why subdivisions are approved without making the streets wide enough to allow for parking.  Mr. Hoobyar advised the Police Department can issue temporary parking permits for on-street parking.  Mr. Drake asked if the concern is tearing up the yard, can it not be approached from the aspect of a parked car tearing it up and then there is a violation as opposed to parking occasionally in the yard.  Ms. Hash said occasional parking in the yard is not the problem it is the permanent parking.  Mr. Ryle stated they’re facing the problem that over half of their residential areas in Ellettsville were functionally laid out before people had private cars.  

 

Darla Brown, Town Attorney, suggested if the homeowner did not pay a fine she would have to enforce it in court.  She would have a difficult time trying to convince a judge with photos that the ruts are deep enough.  She is suggesting they stay away from that.  Mr. Hoobyar reiterated he has been waiting the 20 days under the code and has been successful.  Mr. Wesolowski said they’re two different situations.  People parking on the yard versus inoperable vehicles. 

 

What verbiage can be used in the place of ruts?  Mr. Baker said the only solution is no parking on yards.  Mr. Swafford asked if Ms. Griffin has checked with other small towns about this problem.  Ms. Griffin replied she does when she researches code.  She’s trying to incorporate citizen complaints into the codes.   Ms. Hash asked if Bloomington prohibits parking on the grass.  Ms. Griffin answered she didn’t look at Bloomington.  Mr. Drake said Bloomington has something about parking in the tree plots but he doesn’t know if it says anything specifically about parking on the lawn.  Ms. Hash asked if instead of saying it’s prohibited could she say prolonged parking on the grass is prohibited.  Mr. Swafford said he doesn’t know whether to scratch it or come back to it next time.  Ms. Griffin proposed letting the Town Council decide.

 

Russ Ryle said they need to focus on what they can do.  They can protect and enforce the line of sight issues from a safety standpoint for driveways, intersections, etc.  They can realistically, except for washing or unloading within a relatively short period of time, regulate parking on the front yard.  They can require vehicles repetitively parked in front of a house be on an improved surface.  Ms. Brown thinks it needs to have a time limit.  Mr. Ryle said any time limit will be difficult to keep track of.  Those are the three things they have a shot at enforcing fairly.  When you get into the more esoteric definitions of what the time frame is for various things then you really have an enforcement problem.  Ms. Brown said if they want to give people a time limit they need to try and figure it out.  Repetitively will cause problems with enforcement.  Mr. Swafford said to put an hour time limit on it.  Mr. Ryle said they’re only looking at cars not parked on an improved surface.  Mr. Swafford said it should be a warning at first with no fine.  Ms. Griffin said within the same year if they’re cited for that then it bumps to the next class ordinance violation because it’s a repeated offense.  The fine will go up to $50 a day.  Mr. Ryle asked about a matter of policy when sending the first warning.  Ms. Griffin replied she doesn’t send out warnings.  She goes for a fine.  Mr. Ryle said for this revision, send them a brief cover and an application for a driveway permit.  It could state “We realize you may need to park here because you don’t have the space.”  Ms. Griffin said she has issued driveway permits but they still require more parking.  It’s not enough.  Mr. Ryle said then they’re getting into only allowing 50% of the yard.  Mr. Swafford thinks the only warning should be for parking an inoperable vehicle on the grass.

 

Pat Wesolowski asked when a warning is issued do they give the code in writing.  Ms. Griffin replied they don’t have a warning document.  She will have to prepare it.  They lists the codes on letters.  Also they have been trying to go more green lately and the code can be accessed online.  Mr. Hoobyar said letters go the owners and unfortunately, not the tenants.  Mr. Swafford said it’s the responsibility of the owners and not the Town.

 

Sandra Hash stated she was concerned about the one ton weight limit for vehicles because people who work service jobs may have to be on call and bring their vehicle home.  Her husband said most service vehicles do not exceed one ton capacity.  Mr. Ryle said you go by how commercial vehicles are licensed.  By the class of license you can tell the weight. 

 

§152.060 DOMESTIC LIVESTOCK PROHIBITED

 

Connie Griffin explained the Town currently has two codes about animals.  Chapter 96, Fowl Running at Large, has been in effect since 1913.  As well as the keeping hogs, pigs or swine which has been around since the 1940s.  The Town is currently in an Interlocal Agreement with Monroe County and the City of Bloomington for animal management.  She is proposing to remove these codes in their entirety and replace them with the Monroe County Animal Ordinance in its entirety.  She looked at the available plats and most of them show the intention of no livestock in the residential areas.  This is one reason she is moving to strike the code and not allow livestock in the jurisdiction of Ellettsville.  This deviates from the City of Bloomington code which has estate and single dwelling residentials.  The permit is issued by the City of Bloomington, there has to be written approval from neighbors and there is no slaughtering.

 

David Drake asked if the policy she is proposing is in conformance with the Interlocal Agreement with Monroe County.  Ms. Griffin replied also with the City of Bloomington for those two residential zoning districts.  She is working on the Town’s residential districts.  Mr. Drake stated the Town cannot afford to remove itself from the Interlocal Agreement with Monroe County.  Ms. Griffin advised if the Town Council wants to move in the direction of allowing chickens in certain districts then they will have to work with the county attorney.  Mr. Drake said the best thing to do would be to stay with the Interlocal Agreement.

 

Domestic Livestock.  No domestic livestock of any kind shall be raised, bred or kept on any residential or commercial lot in the jurisdiction of the Town of Ellettsville.

 

§152.061 BUSINESS OPERATIONS AND AUTO REPAIR IN RESIDENTIAL AREAS

 

Connie Griffin considers an auto repair type business to be a commercial business and has prohibited this in a residential area.  She increased minor auto repair to 14 consecutive days.

 

(D)    Minor auto repairs shall be permitted in single family and two family residential developments if the vehicle(s) under repair are owned by the current owner or resident of the property. Fourteen (14) consecutive days are allowed for minor vehicle repairs.

 

§152.062 TRASH, DUMPSTERS AND OUTDOOR STORAGE

 

Russ Ryle advised they have an oversize trash can they use as a plastic compost bin in their backyard as a permanent fixture.  Is it covered under code?  Ms. Griffin replied she doesn’t consider a compost pile to be in violation.  Mr. Ryle asked about someone who dumps six cubic yards of yard waste in their backyard and says it’s compost.  Ms. Griffin said it could go under disease control and in the residential code’s it’s prohibited.  If a compost pile is covered up she doesn’t have a problem with it.

 

§152.058 PRIVATE SWIMMING POOL REGULATIONS

 

Connie Griffin removed spas from the code.  It is covered under blighted property.

 

§152.059 BLIGHT AND PUBLIC NUISANCE

 

A checklist was presented.  This will reinforce her determination if a property is blighted.

 

Pat Wesoloski asked if tenant referred to the owner or the person living there.  Ms. Griffin replied if it’s a rental she’s going to want to know because she would be contacting the property owner.

 

Darla Brown, Town Attorney, stated there are Violations and Fines under §152.058 and §152.076.  Is §152.058 directed only to noxious plants?  Ms. Griffin replied yes.  Ms. Brown asked if she intends for §152.076 to apply to everything else under §152 for which a penalty is not otherwise specified.  Ms. Griffin replied she does have violations and fines throughout the code.  She will change it “for which a penalty is not otherwise specified” under §152.  Ms. Hash confirmed this is for those things the Town can’t go in and cleanup but they can be fined.  Ms. Griffin answered that was correct.  She puts a lot of extra work on the Street Department by doing cleanup.  Her goal is to use fining as a technique so they don’t have to send in Town staff.

 

Connie Griffin is seeking a recommendation to send to Town Council on October 28, 2013.  Ms. Hash asked if it still gets two readings before Town Council.  After a discussion it was decided the October 28, 2013, Town Council meeting would be the first reading and the second reading will be on November 12, 2013.

 

Darla Brown verified the Plan Commission has agreed to the following regarding parking on the grass:   §152.059(C) the Plan Commission is inclined to allow temporary parking on the grass for a three hour limit within a 24 hour period for loading, unloading, washing the vehicles and for minor temporary repairs.

 

Dan Swafford instructed Connie Griffin to prepare a warning letter with the driveway permit attached for the next Town Council meeting and to email it to the Plan Commission members.

 

Terry Baker entertained a motion to accept the code revisions with said amendments.  Dan Swafford made a motion to accept the code revisions with said amendments.  Russ Ryle seconded.  Roll Call Vote:  Terry Baker – yes; Russ Ryle – yes; Don Calvert – yes; David Drake – yes; Dan Swafford – yes; Pat Wesolowski – yes and Sandra Hash - yes.  Motion carried 5-0.

 

Plan Commission Comments

 

Dan Swafford went to see the Hayes Retirement Community and they have put a blockade at Brown Drive.  He doesn’t think it’s a good idea and doesn’t think the Town allowed it.  He wants to see something done about it.  This was not approved during the approval process.  Ms. Griffin will draft a letter for the Town Attorney’s review.

 

Adjournment

 

Terry Baker entertained a motion to adjourn.  Dan Swafford made a motion to adjourn.  David Drake seconded.  Motion carried.  Terry Baker adjourned the meeting at 7:19 p.m.