Three-story riverfront project to house retail, 52 units of affordable senior housing
By Pam Robinson
The Mount Vernon City Council held the public hearing on the ordinance vacating the alley south of the Old Armory—an ordinance necessary to move forward with “The Landing” project. As expected, the hearing transpired uneventfully. Present was Larry Williams, representing the Posey County Economic Development Partnership, the entity requesting the alley to be vacated.
Also present was Tim Martin from Myszak Palmer, the Vincennes architectural firm for the project. Martin stood before council to answer any questions and to encourage a swift passage of the ordinance, the last legal hurdle to clear on the way to final closing on the project so construction can begin.
Indeed, upon the conclusion of the public hearing, council voted unanimously to pass the ordinance vacating the designated alley on second reading, to suspend the rules, and then to pass the ordinance on third and final reading. The ordinance goes in the record books as 12-21.
After the meeting, Mount Vernon businessman Larry Williams confirmed the final closing on “The Landing” project is anticipated for mid-October with groundbreaking shortly thereafter. Likewise, Tim Martin stated in a phone conversation on Friday that the groundbreaking will occur at the end of the month if possible.
“The Landing” is a 64,000-square-foot, three-floor riverfront facility that will provide retail space on the first floor and 52 units of affordable senior housing on the second and third floors—46 apartments and six condos. Project deadline is December, 2013.
The celebration over “The Landing” project was almost eclipsed by new business late in the meeting. Councilman Andy Hoehn noted an attempted break-in to an ammonia tank on Co-op property at Wolflin. He stated that the resulting ammonia release caused residential property damage and a near-miss to a police officer.
He reported that the Co-op’s storage of its ammonia tanks has been grandfathered to avoid new state regulations that call for tanks to be stored at a considerable distance from a residence and even farther away from a school. He expressed concern for residences and nearby West Elementary School alike with the potential for 50,000 gallons of ammonia to be released – with the thanks stored in the open and contained by no fence or protection of any kind. Councilwoman Becky Higgins added some tanks are out on Lower New Harmony Road as well.
According to Hoehn, the state chemist has informed him that city ordinance can supersede the grandfather clause and regulate the storage of the tanks. Hoehn then called for the drafting of an ordinance to comply with the state chemist’s standards.
During the discussion, Mayor John Tucker stated he had received a letter from Co-op advising the tanks would be moved across from Huck’s where there is more light and more traffic—but still no monitoring.
Councilman Hoehn then proposed that he and the Mayor open a discussion with the Co-op regarding safe storage of the tanks. With the consent of council, Mayor Tucker agreed the two of them would arrange a meeting and suggested Police Chief Grant Beloat join them.
In other business:
• Legals included the third and final reading of the ordinance establishing appropriations and tax rates for the City of Mount Vernon for year ending December 31, 2013 (numbered 12-19). In addition, council passed the animal control ordinance on second reading with revisions as suggested by the animal control officer. Residents may read the particulars of the ordinance (Title IX, chapter 91) by visiting the city website at www.mountvernon.in.gov. Additional clarifications or revisions may be included in the ordinance before it passes on third reading at the next city council meeting. Finally, council passed on second reading, suspended the rules, and then passed on third and final reading the ordinance authorizing a blanket bond or criminal insurance policy (numbered 12-20).
• Under old business, Councilwoman Becky Higgins supplied council with pictures to evidence erosion on the river banks. At the suggestion of council colleagues, Higgins agreed to contact the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the matter.
• Councilman Andy Hoehn asked about the flooding of the rain garden at West Elementary School – according to officials, the result of a 10-year rain event. Mayor Tucker reported that Bernardin Lochmueller & Associates were working with officials on a new plan. He also stated that city departments have worked at the site in addition to the cutting down and moving of the third berm to the north.
• Councilwoman Becky Higgins announced that she attended the meeting of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, or IACT. She reported that the state wanted to see effort on Americans with Disability Act, or ADA, compliance mandates.
• When council met as the Water Utility Board, Water Chairman Bill Curtis reported that construction on the Waterworks’ intake is progressing well with all pipe and equipment at the site now. He added that officials still hope to finish the project by the end of December, 2012.
The Mount Vernon City Council will meet again Thursday, October 18, 2012, 7 p.m., in the City Hall Annex.