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BE IT REMEMBERED, that the White County Commissioners held a Special Meeting on Tuesday, April 14, 2015. The meeting was held at the White County Building, 2nd floor Commissioners’ Conference Room beginning at 8:00 a.m.

 

Commissioners present were: President John C. Heimlich, Commissioner Steve Burton and Commissioner David Diener. Also present was the White County Auditor Gayle Rogers, White County Attorney George Loy, and the Commissioners’ Assistant Donya Tirpak.

 

Commissioner Heimlich called the meeting to order.

 

NIPSCO LICENSE MODIFICATION PROPOSAL AT “FERC”

Commissioner Heimlich said that the first item for discussion today is the consideration of engagement of legal counsel for protest of NIPSCO’s License Modification Proposal at “FERC”.

 

NIPSCO’s License Modification Proposal:

Last year, NIPSCO sought to amend their license to operate the Oakdale and Norway dams. Their current license generally requires that lake levels not fall more than 3 inches but, if approved, the amended license would allow the lake level to fall more than 12 feet. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington, D.C is now considering whether to approve these changes and is seeking comments from the public, especially from local groups and organizations, to help it decide the issue.

 

White County Attorney George Loy said that the county has received a proposed letter of engagement from Smith, Currie, & Hancock LLP, Law Firm, from Washington, D.C., stating that they are going to represent White County before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) concerning the protest of NIPSCO’s Proposed License Modification.

 

John Koppelmann, representative of Shafer-Freeman Lakes Environmental Conservation, (SFLECC), said that “FERC” has extended the comment period from April 15 to May 15, because they are requesting additional information from NIPSCO for their license adjustment request.

 

Mr. Koppelmann said that their Attorney (Smith, Currie Hancock) suggested that when they file their submission, that they include support from White County, Carroll County, and the City of Monticello to have more of an effect.

 

Commissioner Diener asked Attorney Loy if he has drafted a letter from the City of Monticello for this same request. Attorney Loy presented a draft letter from Smith, Currie and said that he has requested them to send us an edited letter indicating that it’s on a pro bono basis.

 

  • Commissioner Diener made a motion to adopt the letter from Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP, Law Firm, with the provisions that will be made as discussed, seconded by Commissioner Burton. Vote: Unanimous

 

CONSIDERATION OF MATTERS PERTAINING TO MAINTENANCE OF COUNTY ROAD 100 NORTH AND COUNTY ROAD COUNTY ROAD 50 EAST

Commissioner Heimlich said that this matter pertains to the proposed annexation by the Reynolds Town Board some property that abuts up to County Road 100 North and County Road 50 East. He said that county representatives have asked questions about the annexation and other matters from the Reynolds Town Board and they have not responded back to us.

 

Attorney Loy said that the annexation that Commissioner Heimlich is referring to is the recent annexation ordinance that was adopted January 6, 2015, by the Reynolds Town Board. The Reynolds Town Board annexed about 296 acres to the northeast of Reynolds, which includes all of the Mag-Pellet property and also the property owned by Ron and Sharon Allen.

 

Attorney Loy said that when Joe Rogers, Area Plan Director, received a copy of the unsigned, draft ordinance he examined the legal description and advised him that the Northern and Eastern perimeter of the area annexed abutted two county roads. In fact, the Northern boundary of the annexation territory actually went to the centerline of County Road 100 N, and to the east abutted County Road 50 E. He said that the annexation statutes require that if an annexation territory abuts a county road, the annexation description itself must include the county roads, which it doesn’t. The reason for this is, if you annex a territory up to a county road, the Indiana Legislature wants to make sure that the annexing entity, Reynolds Town Board, takes over the maintenance of those county roads.

 

Attorney Loy also pointed out that in the legal description of the annexation ordinance, the Allen’s were not included in the description nor was there any mention of the maintenance required on the mentioned county roads. Because the annexation ordinance and the fiscal plan does not adequately address the maintenance of the county roads, which is a major concern to the county, the county may file a civil action in court contesting the annexation. A draft has been put together for a complaint for a declaratory judgment and remonstrance to the annexation. All of this has been discussed in an executive session with the commissioners and the Allen’s. Consequently, there is a complaint before the commissioners for the declaratory judgment and remonstrance that the Allen’s would be a party to, as well as, the county. The county has also been in communication with other landowner’s attorneys affected who may also join in the complaint. At this time, the order of business for the commissioners is to consider whether or not they wish to authorize filing of this complaint.

 

Commissioner Heimlich said that he regrets that it has come to this but the commissioners have tried on numerous occasions to get their concerns about the road issues and the fiscal plan addressed. He explained that they originally became involved because of the Economic Development Agreement that the county has with Mag-Pellet, and the fact that it is in a TIF District. We had to see how the annexation was going to affect the TIF District. Not only did we have difficulty getting answers to our questions, but we also know that the Reynolds Town

 

Board didn’t even list on their agenda that they were adopting the amended fiscal plan during a Special Meeting that they held.

 

Commissioner Diener said that it seems very obvious since the beginning that the Reynolds Town Board has chosen not to be very transparent with the annexation or the people that are involved. He said that he has not been able to get any answers from anyone that’s involved with this. He said that fiscal advisors from Umbaugh & Associates even tried to point out to them that their fiscal plan was inadequate and incorrect and they wouldn’t even return their phone calls.

 

  • Commissioner Diener said that he was happy to make a motion that the county enter into a remonstrance and a civil action against the Reynolds Town Board and their annexation, seconded by Commissioner Burton. Vote: Unanimous

 

Attorney Loy said that it will be a complaint for a declaratory judgment and remonstrance and Mr. and Mrs. Allen are here with their legal counsel, Barry Emerson, and they will be joining the county.

 

Commissioner Heimlich asked if there were any further discussion. No response

 

 

There being no further business to come before the board, their meeting adjourned.

 

 

___________________________ ___________________________ ________________________

John C. Heimlich, President Steve Burton, Commissioner David Diener, Commissioner

 

 

 

ATTEST: _________________________

Gayle Rogers, Auditor