Culver council rejects controversial building fee hikes

Permit fees for building development like this PUD on State Road 10 in Culver by CMD of Plymouth would have increased significantly under a new permitting formula rejected by Culver's town council at its last meeting.
By: 
Jeff Kenney
Citizen editor

A proposed change in building permit fees for the town of Culver was formally nixed by the Culver town council at its Nov. 24 meeting, when council members voted to rescind the proposed fee schedule and send it back to the Culver plan commission, which had originally approved it for council review.

Council member Sally Ricciardi, in summing up the previous meeting's lively discussion about the new fee schedule for council president Ginny Munroe, who had been absent at the last meeting, noted the "general consensus was the fees were too high (and) would be restrictive towards people building new homes and towards businesses."

She added there were also concerns expressed as to the added costs in building pole barns and other more agriculture-related structures within the town's two-mile zoning boundaries.

The council had tabled the matter at its last meeting.

Council member Ed Pinder recalled that contractors speaking at the previous meeting also said they would pass along cost increases under the proposal change to customers, rather than absorbing the higher fees themselves.

Asked to discuss the proposal and the logic behind it, plan commission president Barry McManaway said several potential cost increases motivated the proposal, including fees for bringing an attorney into plan commission meetings as well as the possibility of a full-time building inspector for the town when current building commissioner Russ Mason retires.

McManaway noted that Marshall County building inspector Chuck DeWitt informed the council at the previous meeting that reprogramming of the county's online permitting software to accommodate Culver's unique specifications -- should the proposed fee change pass -- could cost upwards of $17,000.

The council unanimously rejected the proposal, though it was noted that by then, the plan commission had already submitted to the council a new proposal described as having only modest fee increases. That proposal will be the subject of a public hearing during a special meeting of the plan commission Dec. 15. The new proposal, as-yet unapproved, is available on the Town of Culver's website at www.townofculver.org.

The council also voted, at town attorney Jim Clevenger's recommendation, to formally pass the fee schedule change matter back to the plan commission for a re-vote.

Among other items addressed at the meeting was council approval of application for a planning grant through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, as administered by Culver's park board towards eventual renovation of its beach lodge. The matching grant would require $3,500 from the park fund towards a total $15,000 planning grant. Park superintendent Marc Hayden also reported the park received an $18,000 grant from the Marshall County Community Foundation towards renovation of the 1800s picnic shelter in the west end of the park.

Park board president John Helphrey also reported ice skating is planned to be returned to the town beach as in years past, with the lower level of the beach lodge open and its fireplaces going with hot chocolate served. Helphrey said the park's insurance company had been consulted, and an area about the size of the swimming area at the beach will be prepped for skating once safely frozen.

The park is soliciting donations of used ice skates to make available for local children, added Helphrey.

More information on the meeting appears in the Dec. 3 edition of The Culver Citizen, which may be purchased online through our "Subscriptions" tab on this page.

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