By Pam Robinson
Developer Charlie Lawrence’s annexation proposal piqued the interest of the Mount Vernon City Council during the Monday, Jan. 24, meeting. Lawrence wants to develop three streets with 67 lots on the Smith Road property north of Country Club Estates, where all lots are now developed. Eventually, he would like the City of Mount Vernon to provide the water and sewer mains and the blacktop for all three streets. For now, he would like the city to fund these services for one street with 23 lots.
During discussion, Lawrence stated that the development would be an open market for builders to construct homes on the lots. He said the homes would fall into the $150,000 – $250,000 price range. He added that he was interested in this development before the announcement of the fertilizer plant possibly coming to town and adding 300 jobs. In fact, Lawrence appeared before the Water Utility Board on Monday, April 23, 2012, to discuss the development of this same property.
The Lawrence Addition has room for 87 more homes, Lawrence commented. Those homes would typically fall in the $100,000 – $150,000 price range. Between the proposed development and the further development of Lawrence Addition, he added, the city is prepared for all kinds of housing.
John Taylor, Executive Director of the Posey County Economic Development Partnership, commented that definite word on the fertilizer plant would come in three to four weeks. He added that he wasn’t at liberty to discuss the project now.
Dr. Tom Kopatich, Superintendent of the MSD of Mount Vernon, also spoke, urging council to support new development. He emphasized, in particular, that proposed development would be in the Farmersville school district, which is prepared for more students. He said the MSD of Mount Vernon needs council’s support to encourage families with children to move into the area and boost the district’s currently declining enrollment numbers.
By consensus, council members agreed the city will do whatever it can to move the development forward. Water, sewer, street and fire department heads will look at Lawrence’s plans as soon as he gets copies to the city. Charlie Lawrence will also need to work with the Area Plan Commission concerning revised requirements for subdivisions. City Attorney Beth McFadin Higgins is contacting Jonathon Weinzapfel regarding the process for voluntary annexation. Weinzapfel’s firm is sending a proposal on a city annexation study for the review of city council members at their February 7 meeting. The city will also look at how to pay for helping with the development.
A tentative date of Thursday, Feb. 21, the second council meeting in February, was suggested for again discussing Lawrence’s proposal.
In other business:
• When meeting as the Water Utility Board, council approved Change Order #3 on the Waterworks project. This change order addresses moving electrical equipment critical to the operation of the water treatment plant to an elevation at or above the 500 –year flood plain. It was stated that the floor elevation of raw water pumps is 371’, but in the 1937 flood, water got up to 376.66’. After this work, the plant would remain in operation at these levels. The change order costs $171,800, to be paid in cash from operating and maintenance.
• Water Chairman Bill Curtis reported that Waterworks is looking into accepting credit cards for payment of customer bills. Issues must be resolved, however, before this idea could become a reality.
• Council passed changes to the zoning ordinance as recommended by the Area Plan Commission. Council members passed the changes on second reading, suspended the rules, and then passed the changes on third and final reading. Mindy Bourne with the Area Plan Commission was on hand to explain the changes. Numbered 13-1, the revised ordinance removes the number of domestic animals, namely dogs and cats, allowed in particular zoning districts. In addition, the revised ordinance concerns the site plan process: if a state release isn’t required, then a site plan review isn’t required. A local building permit will still be required.
The Mount Vernon City Council will meet again Thursday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Annex. Council agreed by consensus to meet in private executive session at 6 p.m. the same evening.
By Pam Robinson
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