Council mulls more curbs and sidewalks

Debbie Blank | The Herald-TribuneSamuel Henson (third from left), Oldenburg, recently was appointed as one of several Franklin County deputy coroners, he announced at the meeting. Henson will graduate soon from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. Madison Oesterling (from left) and Eric Geis, 22162 Water St., were among 11 attendees and agreed with Ildertons that there's a water problem in that area. They will install downspouts to the creek because water is getting in the basement. Also listening is Eagle Fire Co. board President Greg Ronnebaum.

An effort to get a building permit led into a broader discussion about village infrastructure improvements at the Feb. 5 Oldenburg Town Council meeting.

Troy and Jenny Ilderton, 22158 Water St., who are renovating an 1850s house, requested approval to build a 26-by-32-foot garage designed by architect Nick Gehring between their residence and Dale and Tara Moorman's (22154 Water St.).

He said the side setback would be about 16-17 feet and the front setback 21 feet from the curb. OTC members said county guidelines must be followed. The council OK'd the garage plan. The Ildertons will get a building permit from Clerk-Treasurer Cindy Laker soon, then approach the Franklin County Area Plan Commission and Building Department for final approval.

Troy Ilderton pointed out when it rains, water rushes through the side yard into the back yard. He wondered if town officials were planning to install curbs and gutters there.

OTC member David Wahman said property owners could opt to pay for that. Jenny Ilderton questioned, "Even if it's the town's property?" Yes was their answer.

Town attorney John Kellerman noted, "Flowing water is a common enemy." He said legally town leaders do not have to respond. "You can choose to attempt to control the water if you want to."

OTC President Dennis Moeller said, "We don't have plans right now."

Kellerman said, "You can put in curbs and gutters, but then where's the water going to go?" Wahman's answer: "Right in the creek."

According to OTC member Greg Struewing, "There are quite a few areas in town that could use some curbs and gutters."

Moeller wondered if the council could get a grant for a large project rather than "to piecemeal it."

The attorney suggested, "It's something to be looked at for the (proposed) comprehensive plan."

Moeller asked the other members, "Have you thought about a solid plan so we can apply this year" for an Indiana Department of Transportation Community Crossings Matching Grant? "I know last month we talked about curbs and gutters, an additional walk bridge, sidewalks ... do we want to key on one of those ... or maybe more" and get bids?

Wahman questioned whether a grant writer is needed. The president didn't believe so because the grant application is "not anything that extensive," just the specified work and a written bid from a contractor.

Kellerman thought the walking bridge project might be tied to a walking path proposed by the Freudenfest Committee, which would pay for the work.

"We always talk about safety and beautification" and adding sidewalks on streets that don't have them would be an improvement, according to Moeller.

Wahman suggested constructing curbs first, which would then indicate locations of sidewalks.

"I say go big," urged Kellerman. "If it (dollar amount) is too big, you can cut it down. What's it going to take to put curbs, gutters and sidewalks at the same time?" It would be easier on town residents to have construction once instead of several times.

Struewing will identify areas that need work and show the map to the other two.

Moeller wants to rent an unoccupied 1,500-square-foot area in the town-owned Oldenburg Police Department building on State Road 229 "so we can bring in at least enough revenue to cover our expenses," such as utilities.

"One option I've got that I can pursue" is to explore whether the Oldenburg post office could relocate there. He explained Dr. Tom Konnersman, who owns the building where the post office is now, does not want to renew that lease in 2019.

Town Marshal Bill Dramann was worried about the building's busy location at the intersection of S.R. 229 and Hamburg Road with Water Street nearby. "We've seen numerous almost wrecks out there." He suggested petitioning INDOT to lower the speed limit from 40 mph.

To alleviate traffic congestion if the post office does move there in the future, Wahman recommended a S.R. 229 entrance and Hamburg Road exit.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.

More discussion

• After the town marshal informed OTC Jan. 8 a man was renting out a room with no bathroom or water facilities, he told the landlord the next day that practice must stop due to unsanitary conditions. "We've been monitoring and there's been nobody in there." Moeller asked Kellerman about whether he had drafted a landlord ordinance. OTC debated Aug. 7, 2017, what can be done to landlords if their tenants are causing problems. The attorney reported, "I can't get language that I like ... that will pass muster." He will explore options and choose the best one. The president said, "I don't think we have an issue at the moment, but it's only a matter of time before it comes back again."

• Struewing asked if dogs were still creating problems. Yes, Dramann replied. He cannot find an Oldenburg ordinance about dogs, but Laker thought there was one. Dramann borrowed a sample ordinance from Sunman about dogs and cats running loose. Sister Maureen Irvin, the Sisters of St. Francis congregational minister, asked if there was a provision about dog excrement on private property. Kellerman read that Sunman leaders decided it is unlawful for pets "to soil ... or defecate on any public or private property" unless the owner immediately removes the mess.

• Dramann worked 89 hours and Deputy Eric Moenter 44 hours in January, driving 825 miles to patrol and respond to a variety of calls: watch Oldenburg Academy traffic and dog complaints (same dog), nine each; stop sign warnings and equipment warnings, six each; verbal speed warnings, five; Franklin County dispatch calls and running radar, three each; improper parking warnings, two; traffic accident and speed warning on St. Mary's Road, one each. They also attended four meetings and three trainings.

• The marshal said the police building needs cleaning supplies, spraying for insects (Laker will get that done) and a garage door opener. Struewing agreed, "It would be good to have if for some reason we get to the point" of testing drunk drivers. Also, if vehicles are stored inside, windows won't have to be scraped or defrosted in bad weather. Dramann has one quote from Dunlap Building Materials, Batesville, and was asked to get another.

• Eagle Fire Co. board President Greg Ronnebaum reported within the last two years a computer, pressure washer and smaller items have been stolen from the firehouse. "We changed locks ... so we could secure the firehouse better. Somebody called to rent the shelter and kitchen and said they already had a key to get in. I'm just trying to figure out who has keys to the building." Struewing advised Ronnebaum to ask who gave the man a key. Laker told Ronnebaum the fire department's 2018 budget was approved for $117,892, less than the requested $142,779.

• Moeller asked Irvin if Olivia Hall will be developed into senior apartments. She answered, "We're supposed to hear sometime this month if we got the tax credits and if Herman & Kittle (Properties Inc., Indianapolis) is going to proceed."

• The OTC president asked Wahman, the Oldenburg Utility Board president, for a monthly update. Wahman reported, "We had to put in two meters for the state" to meet a new requirement about water flow for which the town is not getting paid. Laker will distribute utility clerk Ruth Cooper's OUB minutes to council members to keep them informed.

• The annual Oldenburg Conservation Club trap shoot in December raised $855 for the town's holiday lights upkeep.

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