Board of Public Works Special Meeting 10/26/2018

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The Charlestown Board of Public Works met on Friday, October 26 at 9:30am for a special meeting. A summary and full audio (1:49) of the meeting follow:

 

  1. Call to order
  2. All meeting formalities were waived upon Mayor Hall calling the meeting to order. Though attendance was not formally taken, members in attendance were: Ted Little, Ben Ledbetter, and Mayor Bob Hall. Also in attendance was Deputy Clerk Treasurer Nancy Rogers.
  3. Shane Spicer – Community Crossing Project
    • Mayor Hall explained that the special meeting was called for one purpose, to approve a claim for Temple & Temple Excavating. Claim amount is $441,721.17. Mayor Hall confirmed with Shane Spicer that this brings the total to $516,000.
    • Motion to approve the claim made by Ted Little
    • Seconded by Ben Ledbetter
    • No Discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  4. Adjournment
    • Motion to adjourn made by Ben Ledbetter
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • Unanimous approval

Full audio is available here: 

 

Redevelopment Commission Meeting 10/25/2018

The Charlestown Redevelopment Commission met for a regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, October 25 at 9:00am. Following is a summary and full audio of the meeting:

  1. Call to order/Pledge of Allegiance – led by Eric Vaughn
  2. Determination of a Quorum and Roll Call: Members present were John Spencer, Ted Little, George Roberts, Eric Vaughn, and Mayor Bob Hall. Also in attendance were Clerk Treasurer Donna Coomer and city attorney Michael Gillenwater.
  3. Approval of prior meeting’s minutes, current claims, and payroll allowance docket from 09/24/2018 to 10/21/2018 combined into one motion for consideration.
    • Motion to approve made by John Spencer
    • Seconded by Eric Vaughn
    • No Discussion
    • Unanimous Approval
  4. Item of business – approval of additional claims for Springville Manor sidewalk and curb work payable to Lawyer Excavation, Inc. in the amounts of $9,162.30 and $18,688.00 for a total of $27,850.30.
    • Motion to approve claims made by John Spencer
    • Seconded by George Roberts
    • During discussion Ted Little observed that the price reflected a reduction of costs. Mayor Hall confirmed that the work is near completion with only fencing and lighting work remaining. The Mayor said that he gets calls nearly daily from people who are interested in purchasing a home in Springville Manor. Currently there are two people from Pleasant Ridge working through the purchase process but eventually the city will open the remaining homes to anyone over the age of 55. John Spencer reminded that the group needed to call for the vote.
    • Motion received unanimous approval.
  5. Adjournment
    • Motion to adjourn made by Eric Vaughn
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • Unanimous approval

Full audio available (4:27) here: 

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Common Council Meeting 10/15/2018

The Charlestown Common Council held a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, October 15, 2018 at 6:30 pm. A summary of the meeting and full audio follow: 

  1. Call to Order/Pledge of Allegiance led by Ben Ledbetter
  2. Invocation – led by L.C. McCawley from the Charlestown Church of God
  3. Determination of a Quorum and Roll Call: Members in attendance were Ted Little, Brian Hester, Tina Barnes, and J.T. Cox. Member Michael Vaughn was absent. Also in attendance were Mayor Bob Hall and Deputy Clerk Treasurer Nancy Rogers. City Attorney Michael Gillenwater was not in attendance.
  4. Approval of Agenda:
    • Mayor Hall asked to revise the agenda in light of City Attorney Michael Gillenwater’s absence. The revised agenda would table the following ordinances until the next scheduled meeting: 2018-OR-20, 2018-OR-22, 2018-OR-23, and 2018-OR-24. 
    • Motion to approve modified agenda made by JT Cox
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • Unanimous approval
  5. Approval of prior meeting’s Minutes, current Claims and the Payroll Allowance Docket from 10/01/2018 to 10/14/2018 combined into one motion for approval.
    • Motion to approve made by Brian Hester
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • During discussion, Tina Barnes noted that in the minutes of the previous meeting the last sentence of the first paragraph said “second reading” but the voting section said “first reading” of that ordinance. She asked for clarification and correction of the minutes in that regard.
    • Nancy Rogers said she will investigate and make the correction necessary.
    • Unanimous approval   
  6. Public Comment – Treva Hodges spoke to remind the Council that the appeals decision does not prevent both the Unsafe Building Law and the Property Maintenance Code from being used in coordination with each other and called upon the Council to remove the provision in the PMC for immediate, accumulating, daily fines. (Full statement located here: Public Comment 10.15.2018)
    • Following her statement, Mayor Hall denied that he has ever stated that he planned to use code enforcement or eminent domain. He said the Judge’s ruling has been set aside. He encouraged people to “look at the record.” 
  7. Ordinances and Resolutions
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-20 – “An Ordinance Repealing the City’s Unsafe Structures Ordinance and Rescinding Adoption of the State’s Unsafe Building Law – TABLED UNTIL NEXT MEETING – Copy of ordinance for consideration is here: ORD 20
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-21 – “An Ordinance Vacating a Roadway/Utility Easement because it is no longer Needed”
      • Motion to approve made by Ted Little
      • seconded by JT Cox
      • No discussion
      • Ted Little, Brian Hester, and J.T. Cox voted in favor. Council member Tina Barnes voted no. Motion passed. Copy of ordinance here: ORD 21
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-22 – “An Ordinance Establishing a Procedure for Issuing Inspection Warrants to Determine if Conditions Exist Which Endanger the Health, Safety, or Welfare of Persons in the City of Charlestown.” TABLED UNTIL NEXT MEETING – Copy of ordinance to be considered here: ORD 22
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-23 – “An Ordinance Amending Ordinance No. 2018-OR-6, An Ordinance Establishing Property Maintenance Standards Within the City of Charlestown, Indiana.”TABLED UNTIL NEXT MEETING – Copy of ordinance to be considered here: ORD 23
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-24 – “An Ordinance Establishing General Procedures to Appeal Penalties and Enforcement Action for Violations of City Ordinances in Charlestown, Indiana” TABLED UNTIL NEXT MEETING – Copy of ordinance to be considered here: Ord 24
  8. Adjournment
    • Motion to adjourn made by JT Cox
    • Seconded by Brian Hester
    • unanimous approval

Full audio (12:07) available here: 

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Board of Public Works 10/15/2018

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The Charlestown Board of Public Works met for a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, October 15 at 9:00am. Following is a summary of the meeting with full audio (5:00) available at the end. 

 

  1. Call to Order/Pledge of Allegiance
  2. Determination of a Quorum and Roll Call – members present were Ted Little, Bob Hall, and Ben Ledbetter. Also in attendance were Deputy Clerk Treasurer Nancy Rogers. (City Attorney Michael Gillenwater was not in attendance.)
  3. Approval of prior meeting’s minutes, current claims, and the payroll allowance docket from 10/01/2018 to 10/14/2018 were combined into one motion for consideration.
    • Motion to approve made by Ben Ledbetter
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • No Discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  4. Items of Business
    • BMS Agreement – Health Reimbursement: Deputy Clerk Treasurer Heather Mick explained that this agreement renewal allows employees to get reimbursed for out-of-pocket medical expenses. There are no changes from the existing plan in this renewal.
      • Motion to approve renewal made by Ted Little
      • Seconded by Ben Ledbetter
      • No Discussion
      • Unanimous approval
    • Steve Leist – Assured Partners, Insurance Renewal: Mr. Leist did not appear before the Board. Mayor Hall asked Heater Mick if she knew what this matter involved and Ms. Mick said that she thinks it is in regard to workers compensation insurance, but since Mr. Leist was absent she could not say for sure. The matter was excused.
    • Mayor Hall introduced a third item not on the agenda. In the past the City has image1-12paved the alleyway behind Main Cross Independent Baptist Church (from Pike Street to Green Alley, see highlighted image). Upon being asked to pave the alley again the City learned it is not an actual alley. The Church has deeded the street area over to the City. The City uses the street area for garbage pick up and will now maintain the paving. Mayor Hall asked the Board to accept the transfer of the deed to the City. 
      • motion to accept made by Ben Ledbetter
      • Seconded by Ted Little
      • No Discussion 
      • Unanimous Approval 
  5. Adjournment
    • Motion to adjourn made by Ben Ledbetter
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • Unanimous Approval

Full audio of meeting available here: 

 

Glendale Community Meeting 10/11/2018

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The City of Charlestown hosted an informational meeting for residents of the Glendale neighborhood on Thursday, 10/11/2018. Following is a brief summary of the meeting. Full audio (50:52) is available at the end.

Mayor Hall began the evening by thanking those in attendance for their participation. He said he loves Glendale and wanted to put to rest any rumors that the City is attempting to take property in the community. He said that the meeting was not a negative meeting.

Mayor Hall gave a history of the neighborhood and noted that it comprises approximately 400 homes or 12% of the City’s population, most of which are brick construction. He said the city wants to support the neighborhood and help in the future. Glendale is the largest subdivision in Charlestown and is important to the overall city.

Looking to the future, Mayor Hall noted that his job is to look forward to investments for quality of life. As he looks at Glendale he is concerned about aging roads and guttering. Glendale is somewhat 80-90% owner occupied, not rental properties. He wants to keep that since he said renters are not as invested in the community as home owners.

Mayor Hall introduced other participants: Ben Ledbetter who was elected as Council Member in the previous election and now is Director of City Services, Rhonda Davidson who is Parks Director, John Spencer the Information Technology and Public Relations Director, Tony Jackson the Building Commissioner, Police Chief Keith McDonald, Shane Spicer who is the City Engineer, and current Council Members J.T. Cox and Mike Vaughn.

Ben Ledbetter spoke about the streets and curbs in the neighborhood. He noted that the streetscape project will enhance the view of the neighborhood by adding five-foot sidewalks, decorative street signs, decorative street lamps, decorative traffic sign posts, all that mirror what is currently placed on Market Street. He also anticipates neighborhood banners. (He presented a visual presentation for demonstration.)

Mayor Hall resumed and informed the group that the City has applied for two Community Crossings grants for Glendale and downtown improvements. He said that they are going to do these changes regardless of the awarding of the grants. He anticipates making these changes next year.

Quality of Place is a concern for the Mayor. As an administration he has committed to parks and activities. He introduced Parks Director Rhonda Davidson to speak about the parks.

Rhonda Davidson thanked everyone for coming to the meeting. She is celebrating 10 years working with Bob Hall on city parks and is happy that his goal is for families to have a place to play in town. In the neighborhoods the plan is to put a series of pocket parks. The goal is to have these small parks in every neighborhood. (She presented a visual display.) She turned it back over to Mayor Hall.

Mayor Hall said that Glendale will now be the only neighborhood that has two parks and they hope to put another pocket park in the area of the old drive-in theatre. If you want to have a meeting in the park, you can get a letter to reserve the park from Geri Heal in City Hall at no cost. He hopes that these improvements will keep home ownership high in Glendale. He introduced Police Chief McDonald to discuss public safety.

Chief McDonald has been serving for 20 years in Charlestown. He shared data of total crime for the community (Glendale experiences 4% of all City’s misdemeanors and felonies in the last three years). He invited everyone to attend the next Block Watch meeting on November 15. He has sent officers out to monitor stop signs and speeding in the area but will taper that patrol off and move to other areas for the time being but noted they will be back. He encouraged residents to be active and report issues to the police. He spoke about plans for better reporting of data.

People began to ask questions and make comments. Topics included speeding, speed bumps, and curfew laws.

Chief McDonald encouraged people to call if they’re experiencing problems and reminded them that they can make anonymous reports.

People asked questions and made comments about types of crime committed in the neighborhood. (audio sometimes difficult to hear)

There was some concern about sidewalks being unnecessary, taking up too much space in peoples’ yards, and impacting landscaping and yard features. Mayor Hall mentioned that schools are expanding walking areas and there is a need to get kids off of streets and onto sidewalks. Some concern was raised about the waste of money on putting sidewalks in areas where they are not needed. Mayor Hall assured people that work crews will meet with every homeowner individually to work through issues about yards and design like they’ve been doing on Monroe Street.

Mayor Hall opened up comments on sidewalks. Several people commented and asked for clarification about size because they heard both five feet and two feet during the meeting. Mayor Hall said he cannot give specific answers because it depends on the house. A resident asked if people would get paid for the land taken to build the sidewalks and Mayor Hall said no because there is an easement.

There was some concern over the features like speed bumps and sidewalks being unwanted. Some people expressed that they like the neighborhood the way it is and questioned the need to spend money on sidewalks since they will disrupt daily life as it is.

(Many people began speaking at once expressing different opinions. Please refer to audio.)

Mayor Hall assured them that people who are getting sidewalks now are happy.

Someone asked about how the easement is determined and Mayor Hall said the easements are usually 60 feet but can vary based on individual properties. There was some concern that the easements do not currently exist. Individual property owners can check with the courthouse to learn where the easements exist.

In response to the concerns being raised Mayor Hall said that in his time as mayor that no matter what what he does there will be a percentage of people who disagree. A comment was made that he should ask the community what they want rather than direct it on his own. An informal vote was taken. (Many people were talking at once. Please refer to audio.)

Sidewalks will be on both sides of the street. Someone asked if the project had already been approved and Mayor Hall confirmed that it has. There was concern expressed that the city should seek opinions first before making such decisions.

(Much of the end of the meeting became unclear as people became frustrated and Mayor Hall closed the meeting.)

Full audio here: 

 

 

Transparency Today, Transparency Tomorrow, Transparency PLEASE!

When Charlestown residents ask questions of the current administration instead of clear answers we are met with rhetorical gymnastics that twist and turn perceptions of truth and stamp a label of “political malcontent” upon anyone who voices concern over or opposition to the Mayor’s actions. Mayor Bob Hall frequently reminds us that his goals are “a process not an event,” and reframes our desire to have that process clearly and publicly outlined into the incessant whining of inconsolable toddlers.

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 “The group that’s here has protested everything we’ve done and the lack of transparency is always used if they don’t get their way,” – Mayor Bob Hall

While it is impossible to satisfy 100% of the people 100% of the time, it IS possible to keep 100% of the people informed – especially when city resources or citizen tax dollars are at play.

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Yesterday residents in Glendale began sharing images of a letter they received recently from the City. This letter “cordially” invites the recipient to a meeting with their “Glendale neighbors, Mayor Bob Hall, City Councilmen Mike Vaughn and JT Cox, Chief Keith McDonald, City Services Director Ben Ledbetter, and other city officials” to discuss the status of their neighborhood including “significant investments to streetscape enhancement, parks, property maintenance enforcement, and community policing.” 

The letter has raised alarms and questions as several people who live in Glendale wonder what has motivated this focus on their community. Near the forefront of many of their minds is the treatment that the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood has experienced at the hands of this administration.

In an effort to bring attention to the meeting, local news source Charlestown Courier  contacted the City for an official press release. Unfortunately, they were rebuffed and told that the letter applies only to Glendale residents.

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This refusal to share plans when “significant investments” of tax revenue are being directed to any one neighborhood in town is exactly the kind of thing that creates “political malcontents.” People want to be informed. The City has numerous ways of providing such information. Refusing to offer a “broader release” of public information generates suspicion.

The Charlestown Courier has created a poll to see how Charlestown residents feel about the issue of transparency. To view or vote on the poll please visit their facebook page here: Charlestown Courier FaceBook Page

Common Council Meeting 10/01/2018

The Charlestown Common Council held a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, October 1 at 6:30 pm. Following is a summary of the meeting with full audio (29:25):

  1. Call to Order/Pledge of Allegiance led by Sophia Adams, Junior at Charlestown High School and Varsity Cheerleader
  2. Invocation led by: Neyland McClellan from the North Charlestown Church of God
  3. Determination of a Quorum and Roll Call: In attendance were Ted Little, Brian Hester, Mike Vaughn, Tina Barnes, and JT Cox. Also in attendance were Mayor Bob Hall, Clerk Treasurer Donna Coomer, and city attorney Michael Gillenwater
  4. Approval of Agenda
    • In an oversight, the ordinances passed in their first reading at the September 4th meeting were left off the agenda. Mayor Hall asked to amend the agenda to add those ordinances for their second readings. These were 2018-OR-17, 2018-OR-18, and 2018-OR-19.
      • Motion to approve the amended agenda made by Ted Little
      • Second by Mike Vaughn
      • No discussion
      • Unanimous approval
  5. Approval of Minutes from Sept 4 and 12thmeetings, current claims, and Payroll Allowance Docket from 09/03/2018 to 09/30/2018 combined into one motion for consideration
    • Motion to approve made by Brian Hester
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • No discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  6. Ordinances and Resolutions
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-17 – City Employee Salary, for second reading
      • Motion to approve made by J.T. Cox
      • Seconded by Mike Vaughn
      • No discussion
      • Unanimous approval
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-18 Elected Official Salary Ordinance, for second reading
      • Motion to approve made by Brian Hester
      • Seconded by Ted Little
      • No discussion
      • Unanimous approval
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-19 – 2019 City Budget, for second reading
      • Motion to approve made by J.T. Cox
      • Seconded by Mike Vaughn
      • No discussion
      • Unanimous approval
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-20 – “An Ordinance Repealing the City’s Unsafe Structures Ordinance and Rescinding Adoption of the State’s Unsafe Building Law” – for Second Reading
      • Mayor Hall asked city attorney Michael Gillenwater to explain the ordinance. Mr. Gillenwater said that the court of appeals felt that the city cannot have both the Unsafe Building Law and a Property Maintenance Code. Given the choice, he recommends that they stick with the PMC instead of the UBL because it is more specific and gives more power for enforcement. He advised that the council pass this ordinance tonight on second reading to rescind the city’s adoption of the UBL. Mayor Hall clarified that this opts out of a voluntary inspection program. Mr. Gillenwater agreed and noted that in the previous meeting the council voted 5-0 to approve this resolution.
        • Motion to approve made by Ted Little
        • Seconded by Brian Hester
        • During discussion, Brian Hester asked if the state requires a city to have maintenance codes. Mr. Gillenwater said no, but clarified that state standards exist for new construction and it is left up to municipalities to determine maintenance codes and that most cities do adopt such codes. He explained that such codes protect people in the city, especially from unscrupulous landlords, and helps protect property values.
        • Mayor Hall called for the vote. Affirmative votes were given by Ted Little, Brian Hester, Mike Vaughn, and J.T. Cox. Tina Barnes voted no.
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-21 – “An Ordinance Vacating a Roadway/Utility Easement Because it is no Longer Needed” – First Reading
      • Mr. Gillenwater explained that the city received a Community Crossings grant to build a connecting roadway from 403 to Clark Road in Pleasant Ridge. Before it was constructed the original design required an easement from the property owner to build the road. Now the road has been realigned and the property owner has conveyed the land needed to build the road to the City. This morning the BPW recommended that the Council vacate that old easement because it is no longer needed. This allows the property owner to construct something on the land should they desire.
        • Motion to approve made by J.T. Cox
        • Seconded by Mike Vaughn
        • No discussion
        • Mayor Hall called for the vote. Affirmative votes were given by Ted Little, Brian Hester, Mike Vaughn, and J.T. Cox. Tina Barnes voted no.
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-22 – “An Ordinance Establishing a Procedure for Issuing Inspection Warrants to Determine if Condition Exist Which Endanger the Health, Safety, or Welfare of Persons in the City of Charlestown” – First Reading
      • Mr. Gillenwater explained that this is an ordinance that adds due process procedures to statues and case law in Indiana. Governments are allowed to inspect properties in their jurisdictions, but there must be an exigent need, special circumstance, or permission from the owner. The state says there must be due process for inspections. This ordinance establishes the process for gaining a warrant in cases where an owner refuses entrance. A judge is required to review the circumstances and issue a warrant for the inspection including a set period for conducting the inspection and for returning results. There are some circumstances in which dangerous or unhealthy situations exist and people will not agree to inspection so this ordinance provides protection and direction for gaining entrance. It is patterned after some others used in the state. It gives the City the ability to obtain the right to inspect and protects the rights of the property owners as well.
        • Motion to approve made by Brian Hester
        • Seconded by Ted Little
        • During discussion, Brian Hester asked if this warrant is similar to a criminal case. Mr. Gillenwater explained that without the warrant, you can still ask permission to come in, but you can be denied. The warrant process dictates that city employees have to go to a judge under penalties of perjury and testify that there is probable cause to enter the property. The judge makes that decision and it would be our Circuit judges here in Clark County. The inspector has to report back to the court. Brian Hester asked, “So this truly protects individuals?” and Mr. Gillenwater said yes.
        • Mayor Hall called for the vote. Affirmative votes were given by Ted Little, Brian Hester, Mike Vaughn, and J.T. Cox. Tina Barnes voted no.
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-23 – “An Ordinance Amending Ordinance No. 2018-OR-6, An Ordinance Establishing Property Maintenance Standards Within the City of Charlestown, Indiana” – First reading
      • Mr. Gillenwater said this should look familiar. In 2008 the city adopted its PMC and earlier this year the council voted to amend it to clarify the relationship between the UBL and the PMC. Now that they’ve opted out of the UBL they’ve removed the language from the PMC. The City has sent this to the Indiana Fire Prevention and Safety Commission and this version incorporates changes that they recommended. Mr. Gillenwater asks that the council pass this on the first reading. He anticipates this will come for a second reading and hopes to have heard from the IFPSC by then in case there are any changes. He said other than the initial changes things remain largely the same in the code. He said that this is for health, safety, and maintenance, for example, you must be able to keep your home at a specific temperature in extreme weather, and maintain pest control. These are standards developed by an international property maintenance board. Ted Little, asked if this applies to homeowners and businesses and Mr. Gillenwater said yes.
      • Mayor Hall called for the motion to approve
        • Motion to approve made by Ted Little
        • Seconded by Mike Vaughn
        • During discussion Tina Barnes pointed out that last month the IFPBSC denied the PMC submitted by the city. Ms. Barnes was present at the August meeting of the commission and said that commission member Gregory Furnish, after reviewing the PMC (specifically the fines section) said that “ethically, it doesn’t even pass the litmus test.” Mr. Furbish also said he had never seen “anything written like this in his life.” Ms. Barnes asked for a copy of the letter that the Commission sent to the city outlining all of the problems with the PMC. Brian Hester asked if the ordinance is a living document? Mr. Gillenwater said yes, it’s not effective until the council passes it on the second reading. Mr. Hester asked if he has recommendations for changes who he gives them to and Gillenwater said him.
        • Mayor Hall called for the vote. Affirmative votes were given by Ted Little, Brian Hester, Mike Vaughn, and J.T. Cox. Tina Barnes voted no.
  7. Mayor’s Updates
      • Chuck Ledbetter retired with 28 years in the police department and received commendations today. He is staying on as an evidence technician for the department.
      • The City has applied for two Community Crossings Grants for roads and sidewalks and hopes to get one or both of those that will help with paving in Charlestown.
      • Brian Hester gave an update on the Block Watch Meeting from September 27th. There were over 50 people in attendance. The next meeting is set tentatively for November 15th. There are a number of people who want to volunteer for service in the community.
  8. Adjournment
    • Motion to adjourn made by J.T. Cox
    • Seconded by Brian Hester
    • Unanimous approval

Full audio (29:25) available here: 

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