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Council considers grant to improve south side, supports visitor’s center

April 8, 2014

Culver's Obispo Street may be the recipient of much-needed rehab if an Indiana Department of Transportation grant is received by the town, though work wouldn't begin until 2018.

At the March 25 meeting of Culver's town council, application for a grant of some $810,000 to $865,000 to completely replace the street, sidewalks, and curbs along the street on the south side of town, was among several topics of discussion.

Town manager Dave Schoeff said the work would also be looked at as an opportunity to encourage homeowners along the street to improve their properties. As for the condition of the street (and its curbs and sidewalks) at present, Schoeff said, "its shot. When I first got here, I had probably five or six people call me out (to look at the street). One side is making improvements, but it's horrible."

The council agreed to meet for a work session ahead of the May deadline for applying for the grant, which would be an 80-20 funding match between INDOT and the town.

VISITOR'S CENTER SUPPORT

The council voted -- in follow-up to a work session held just prior to the actual meeting -- to put $7,500 towards operating costs of the new visitor's center launching in conjunction with the relocated historical museum in the First Farmers Bank building at Main and Jefferson Streets.

It was noted a lengthy discussion had taken place about the center and its funding needs (more details will appear shortly in a separate article), and that a contract would be drawn up between the town and the Antiquarian and Historical Society of Culver, which is currently the sponsoring organization for the center.

PARK SUPERINTENDENT SALARY AND UPDATES

In other discussion, council president Ginny Munroe said the park board had contacted her making an official request to change the salary ordinance for the park superintendent position, which is currently vacant. She noted the board requested $40,000 to $45,000 as a new salary range.

"They perceive the longevity amount for the previous superintendent won't affect the salary the first year, but the health benefit package is another issue."

She added a public hearing would have to take place, and asked that the matter be put on the agenda for the next council meeting.
Council member Lynn Overmyer asked if the salary would include rent for the upper-floor apartment located at the park's beach lodge, as had been the case with the previous superintendent.

Park board member John Helphrey, in the audience, said the board didn't know yet, and that the matter could be part of negotiation for the position.

"If it is a rental situation, it would be a 1099, taxed accordingly," he said. "It (the position) would be full-time, year-round. We expect it to be seven days per week, 14 to 16 hours a day job during peak season, and we expect the person to get people in for a variety of activities and programs all year long. We also expect that person to be degreed with a parks and recreation degree and the water safety aspect as well."

He added the board will conduct interviews in the coming weeks, to fill the position.

WIND ENERGY SYSTEM ORDINANCE CHANGES

A public hearing was held during which Russ Mason of Culver's plan commission discussed details of an ordinance changing Culver zoning laws concerning wind energy conversion systems. Noting large commercial systems are not permitted in any districts, Mason said the commission's ordinance changes revised setback definitions and established the conversion systems are only allowed in S1 (or suburban residential), R2 multi-family, C2 or commercial, industrial 1 and 2, and agricultural districts, and are always special use permit.

Tower height for the systems can't exceed 120 feet and the diameter of the fan blades can't exceed 40 feet. The systems must be a minimum of .5 kilowatts and a maximum of 45 kilowatts, and their noise is not to exceed 40 decibels. Thirty feet is the minimum clearance between blade tip and ground level, said Mason.

The required separation distance from a given property line, added Mason, is 1.5 times the total height of the tower. Thus if a tower is 100 feet tall, it has to be 150 feet away from any property line. The tower setback is 1,500 feet from any L1 (lake) R1 (residential), or P1 (park district), and there is a maximum of one unit for up to a five-acre parcel, with one additional unit allowed for each 5 acres.

Towers shall not be sighted such as shadow flicker will not fall on a person, unless that person agrees in writing, Mason noted. He said the plan commission spent seven or eight months on the details of the ordinance and had "a lot of input from the community...(it was) not just thrown together quickly."

Also changed are details of Culver's sign regulation, which establishes that a building permit is required for a company to put up a construction sign.

The council passed the changes on first reading only.

SEWER PLANT AND WATER TOWER

The council voted to hire former seasonal employee Ben Smith as a full-time mechanical operator at the town sewer plant, for which a full-time sewer plant operator is still being sought in vain.

Schoeff, as part of his town manager's report, also said two pumps are out at the plant, which need to be rebuilt one at a time, as only one is currently working. The council approved $7,199 for the repairs, which should take two to three weeks. Also approved was purchase of six large sludge bags for the plant.

The town's "trickle" allowance for water usage will be extended to April 11, since only two of the 19 properties experiencing frozen pipes have restored water service, and the ground remains too frozen to address the issues.

The council had previously set March 19 as the end date for allowing homeowners to ''trickle" their water without incurring added expense, to prevent further freezing. This month's water bill will be estimated for those in town who are trickling.

Approved was $2,025 for inspection of the town water tank on Lake Shore Drive, which had to be emptied last month after a leak -- and some six feet of solid ice to boot -- was discovered in its tank. Schoeff said he fully expected the tower to need re-done inside and out.

Some council members balked at -- but did vote to pay -- a $2,360 bill for a different company to handle last month's inspection and inform the town that the tower is full of ice.

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OPEN HOUSE

Schoeff also announced an open house and workshop is scheduled for May 8 at 6:30 p.m. to solicit comments from the community regarding the town's comprehensive plan. The meeting will take place at the depot on Lake Shore Drive.

On May 20, the comprehensive plan will be on the plan commission's agenda for a public hearing once comments are noted and revisions made. A council public hearing is scheduled for June 10 following the plan commission's recommendations.

The council approved a request from Culver's Knights of Columbus to hold a candy drive at major intersections in town the morning of April 26, with the notion discussed that a policy may be established requiring local organizations to file a permit with the town to hold similar drives.

Kevin Berger updated the council on news from the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation, noting the metronet project is moving the high-speed internet line to Plymouth, which brings in that much closer to Culver.

He also said Jerry Chavez has been hired as the economic development director.

Town clerk Karen Heim noted Culver's townwide garage sales are slated for April 25 and 26, with "leftovers" going to the Lions Club's annual spring flea market the following weekend. The town-wide cleanup is scheduled for May 10, when a dumpster will be placed in the town lot at College Ave. and Lake Shore Drive for community members to use in disposing of excess junk. Heim encouraged residents to notify the town hall if planning a yard sale, in order to be placed on the map.

The council approved street closings and other requests typical for Culver's Lake Fest, this year planned for July 18 through 20.
April 1 is the first day the town will accept applications for its sidewalk sharing program, during which $13,5000 is earmarked to pay portions of the cost of property owners' replacement of their sidewalks. October 1 is the cutoff date for construction, it was noted.

Terry Wakefield, Culver fire chief, reported the department's training officer, Jerry Siler, has resigned from that position and was replaced by Bobby Cooper.

Approved by council was an after-the- fact electrical motor replacement bill for the sewer plant for $1018.84, as well as $1,140 for remote backup of town of Culver computer files and emails, a yearly charge.

Heim reported the town is finally set to receive authorizations for ACH payments for water bills, which will allow auto withdrawal of funds from residents' bank accounts (though there is a 15 cent surcharge for those without an account with Teachers Credit Union).

Those wishing to do so should get authorization forms to the town hall by April 5.

Council member Bill Githens and Munroe volunteered to serve as extra sets of eyes to review payroll and town balance sheets, after Heim requested their aid ahead of more in-depth federal-level audits, upcoming since the town received federal funds for grant projects recently.

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