Charlestown City Council Meeting 12/04/2017

Following is a summary of the City Council Meeting from 12/04/2017:

  1. Call to order
  2. Pledge of Allegiance led by Ms. King, a senior at Charlestown high school who will attend the University of Louisville in the fall.
  3. Invocation led by LC McCawley of Charlestown Church of God
  4. Roll Call – all present
    • Ted Little
    • Brian Hester
    • Mike Vaughn
    • Tina Barnes
    • Eric Vaughn
  5. Approval of Agenda
    • Tina Barnes requested to add a motion to the agenda that asked the council to submit a letter to Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC requesting that all vacant houses owned by the development company be removed within 60 days of the notice
      1. Motion not seconded
      2. Motion died
    • Motion made to approve agenda made by Eric Vaughn and seconded by Ted Little
    • No discussion
    • Motion to approve agenda as provided without the amendment passed 4/1 with Tina Barnes objecting.
  6. Approval of Minutes from 11/06/2017 meeting
    • Motion made by Mike Vaughn
    • Motion seconded by Brian Hester
    • No discussion
    • Motion passed unanimously
  7. Approval of Claims
    • Motion made by Eric Vaughn
    • Motion seconded by Brian Hester
    • No discussion
    • Motion passed unanimously
  8. Approval of Payroll Allowance Docket from 11/05/2017-12/02/2017
    • Motion to approve made by Brian Little
    • Motion seconded by Mike Vaughn
    • No discussion
    • Motion passed unanimously
  9. Public Commen
    • Darlene Williams – 1219 Lindsey Street – Began by reading scripture, Matthew 6:24 “no man can serve two masters.” Read email excerpts between Bob Hall and John Neace that discussed election of new council in 2015, campaign contributions from John Neace to the Charlestown Republicans. Noted that the Republican party has not provided a detail of spending and campaign contributions since 2014. Addressed the relationship that existed between Bob Hall and John Neace prior to redevelopment. Discussed the redevelopment plans for Pleasant Ridge. When notified that her time was out, she asked why people who come with plans for redevelopment are allotted more than three minutes but citizens only get three minutes.
    • Melissa Crawford – 344 Clark Road – Addressed the vacant homes in Pleasant Ridge that are owned by Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC (John Neace). Mentioned that the homes are safety risks. They fear fire. Addressed the Judge ruling of a preliminary injunction against the city for unfair fines levied on people in the community. Called for the city to send a letter to Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC requesting that the homes be torn down because the presence of the homes is a safety concern and the homes drive down property values. Challenged Attorney Gillenwater’s statement to WHAS that the conditions in PR today developed over years and noted that things are much more hazardous today than in the past few years. Asked that Tina Barnes make her motion to send the letter yet again to tear down the vacant houses.
  10. Mayor Response to public comment – Mayor Hall elected to respond to the public comments made.
    • He admitted that he and the council members campaigned and collected money from John Neace and from other supporters. He said this is standard behavior for political campaigns.
    • In regard to John Neace’s financial commitment, Mayor Hall said it related to the development of the road that will connect PR to 403.
    • In regard to the empty houses, Mayor Hall agreed that they are empty but denied claims that crime has increased in the area because of their presence. Said in the last year crime is down in Charlestown. Claimed that this is a result of a decrease in the PR neighborhood. Noted that there have been 24 instances of trespasses, with 36 and 25 in the last two years respectively. Mayor Hall noted that trespassing and squatting is an issue that the City has dealt with over the past several years.
    • Addressed “rhetoric” of the last 18 months. Noted that nobody has been evicted form their homes in PR. Properties have changed ownership and new owners have terminated leases. Noted that new owners have allotted extra time for tenants to save money so that they could transition more smoothly. Noted instances where new owners have helped with their tenants’ debt to help them get new housing.
    • Noted that over the past four years the homeowner’s association in PR has made public comment nearly every month to let the city know they disagree with their methods. Said that redevelopment is a city-wide issue and that the council must take into consideration the perspectives of all people. Said that the City will be careful to make sure that people who have to move will be able to do so.
    • Claimed that three methamphetamine labs, multiple drug dealers, and a murder for hire plan have been dealt with in the past four years in PR. Noted that a man died in a house of a meth overdose and that it took the police 6-weeks to identify the man because he was hiding in the neighborhood under an alias. Noted that animal control calls have decreased in the PR community.
    • Noted that the city has always been concerned about the safety of the PR community.
    • Said that he understands that people in PR association and those disagreeing with redevelopment. Assured that in one year things will look very different in Pleasant Ridge and that it will be an improvement. Noted that redevelopment is a process, not an event. Noted that he did not wish to criticize the right for people to object. Asked to move forward
  11. Treva Hodges asked to be recognized by the Mayor. Mayor Hall granted permission. Treva Hodges approached the stand with permission and asked
    • “Will you please send the letter that John Hampton outlined in his agreement requesting that those houses that they purchased be torn down in 60 days like they said that they would do?”
    • Answer from Mayor Hall, “What I will answer is what I answered a minute ago. That there will be a procedure with this and a year from now you’ll notice a huge difference in what is going on.”
  12. Council member Tina Barnes interjected in the attempt to move forward and challenged the Mayor to address the abandoned homes in PR. She expressed frustration that the Mayor indicated that it would take longer. She asked the Council members why they would not vote on sending the letter. Ted Little offered a response that the ordinance about PR does not address what she is asking. Tina Barnes corrected that she’s referring to a letter, not an ordinance. Mayor Hall noted that this is an issue for the Board of Public Works, not the City Council. Council member Eric Vaughn also commented and sought clarification. Mayor Hall clarified that the letter Tina Barnes is referring to is a letter that says Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC will tear down the houses within 60 days if they receive notice from the city but noted that the Board of Public Works is the place for that action. Mayor Hall claimed that in a year things will be different.
  13. Resolution 2017-R-9 that asks the city to commit to the development of an interlocal SWAT team that is a combined effort between Clark County Sheriff, Floyd County Sheriff Department, Harrison County Sheriff Department, City of Clarksville, and City of Charlestown. Would allow mutual aid and a joint team. Funding provided by each individual unit. Approved by Board of Public Works and Safety this morning and passed a resolution recommending that the Council approve. Noted that all other jurisdictions have approved.
    • Motion made by Ted Little
    • Motion seconded by Mike Vaughn
    • No discussion
    • Motion approved unanimously
  14. Mayor played a phone message from a resident from Deputy, Indiana who had visited town recently with her nephew and wanted to let the city know how much she appreciated the Christmas lights.
  15. Motion to adjourn
    • Motion made by Eric Vaughn
    • Motion seconded by Ted Little
    • No discussion
    • Motion approved unanimously

Meeting duration 33:58

Listen to the audio of the meeting here: 

Author: Treva Hodges

Resident of Charlestown, Indiana. Advocate.

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