St. John Indiana - Founded 1837
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January 28, 2016 Town Council Minutes

Michael ForbesClerk-Treasurer, Beth Hernandez
Mark BarenieTown Manager, Steve Kil
Steve HastingsChief Fred Willman
Christen JorgensenChief James Kveton
Gregory Volk 

CALL TO ORDER:
Mr. Forbes called the January 28, 2016, regular Town Council meeting to order at 7:06 p.m.

Mr. Forbes requested a moment of silence be observed for Deputy Clerk, Michele Tyler, who recently passed away.

(The Pledge of Allegiance was said.)

(A moment of silence was observed.)

ROLL CALL:
Clerk Treasurer, Beth Hernandez took roll call with the following council members present: Michael Forbes, Mark Barenie, Steve Hastings, Christen Jorgensen and Gregory Volk. Attorney David Austgen was present. Town Manager, Steve Kil, was present. Chief James Kveton was present. Chief Fred Willman was present.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: DECEMBER 17, 2015
Mr. Forbes stated that the meeting minutes of December 17, 2015, were before the Council for their review and approval. He asked if there were any questions on the minutes. There were no questions.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve the December 17, 2015, Town Council meeting minutes. Mr. Hastings seconded the minutes. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0/1). Ayes --- four. Nays --- none. Mr. Barenie abstained.

NEW BUSINESS:

PUBLIC HEARING

A. ORDINANCE NO. 1616, A PETITION FOR ANNEXATION OF REAL PROPERTY, PETER AND RADA TZANETKOS.

Mr. Forbes noted the first item under New Business was a public hearing for the annexation of real property for Peter and Rada Tzanetkos. Attorney Austgen informed the Council that the Proofs of Publication for the public hearing were in order, and he had the Publisher’s Affidavits evidencing same.

Mr. Kil stated that this parcel of property is located at the southwest corner of the intersection of 101st Avenue and Calumet Avenue. He stated that the parcel is slightly over 24 acres. Mr. Kil stated that the Petitioners are proposing to annex the entire parcel into Town. He stated that the only plans Petitioner currently has are to look at developing the very corner of the roadway and leaving the rest of the property undeveloped.

Mr. Kil stated that Petitioners are requesting that the parcel be annexed into Town in two separate zoning classifications. He stated the commercial property is annexed in under C-2. Mr. Kil stated the bulk of this property will be residential and will be annexed in at R-1. Mr. Kil stated that the Council has been provided with a map for review.

Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. There were no questions. Mr. Forbes stated he would open the public hearing.

PUBLIC HEARING

Joe Hero, 11723 South Oak Ridge Drive:
Mr. Hero stated, in the past, every time there is an annexation it comes in as agricultural. He stated what is happening tonight, or what is changing is that zoning is being specified prior to the annexation. Mr. Hero stated if there are going to be adjacent homeowners who may or may not like the zoning that is being adopted tonight, it would be appropriate to annex the property in as all R-1. He stated if the owners want a zoning change, a public hearing should be held to do the zoning change.

Mr. Hero stated he does not feel it is appropriate to specify zoning at the initial annexation. He stated the practice of specifying zoning at the time of annexation deprives the people of Town to comment on the zoning that is approved. He stated that there is not enough study that goes into the impact of the zoning and traffic concerns.

Mr. Hero requested that this parcel be annexed into Town as all R-1. He stated that another public hearing could be held for a rezoning. He stated that this would enable the Council to get the input of the Town, review traffic, drainage and everything else to see if the zoning that is being adopted is appropriate. Mr. Hero stated he has not heard anyone say that this parcel has undergone a traffic study, a water study and all of the other studies that are required by the Town’s ordinance.

Sharon Pacific, 11423 State Line Road:
Ms. Pacific asked for the exact location of the property. She noted that at the present this property is farmland. Ms. Pacific asked if the studies that Mr. Hero mentioned would be done, studies for water and traffic.

Mr. Kil stated that the property is just being annexed into the community and is not being approved to build anything. He stated if the Petitioner wants to build something on the property, they would have to come in front of the Plan Commission. Mr. Kil explained the process of the Plan Commission when a property is being subdivided. He stated that residents within 300 feet of the subdivided property would receive notice, a sign would have to be posted on the property and the advertising in the newspapers would be required.

(General discussion ensued.)

Jerry Swets, 9490 Joliet:
Mr. Swets asked what the Town’s normal procedure is as far as zoning when farmland is being annexed into Town. Mr. Kil explained that the normal procedure is if the property is annexed in as residential, it’s annexed in as R-1, if the property is annexed in as commercial it is assigned commercial zoning.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Kil noted that the vast majority of this parcel is being annexed in as residential R-1 zoning. Mr. Swets asked if it was normal to do studies prior to the zoning. Mr. Kil stated that doing studies prior to zoning is not the normal procedure.

Sharon Pacific, 11423 State Line Road:
Ms. Pacific stated that it appears that this real property is owned by the Petitioner. She asked if the Petitioner(s) were going to develop the property or if someone else would. Mr. Kil stated that the Petitioner is in the audience tonight, and will be working on the property and coming before the Plan Commission. Mr. Kil stated his understanding is that the Petitioner is going to sell the property. He stated that they consented to the annexation, because they are the actual owners of the property.

Ms. Pacific asked if the actual developer of the property could be identified. Mr. Kil stated that the developer is Lagestee-Mulder. He stated Lagestee-Mulder has done a lot of work locally.

Mr. Forbes called for additional public comment. There was no additional public comment. Mr. Forbes closed the public hearing and brought the matter back to the Council. He asked the Council if they had any questions.

Mr. Forbes stated he would introduce the fiscal plan. Mr. Kil stated that there is not much to it; he stated that there are no plans for the property other than the actual corner itself.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to consider Ordinance No. 1616, on first reading only. “So moved,” by Mr. Hastings. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

B. RESOLUTION NO. 2016-01-28, A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING ENTERING INTO A JOINT INTERLOCAL AGREEMENT WITH THE TOWN OF SCHERERVILLE FOR BUILDING INSPECTION SERVICES.

Mr. Forbes noted the next item for the Council’s consideration is Resolution No. 2016-01-28, a resolution authorizing entering into a joint interlocal agreement with the Town of Schererville for building inspection services. Mr. Forbes noted that this agreement is entered into every year. He stated that the Town shares resources with Schererville. Mr. Forbes explained that when the Town’s inspector is on vacation, they use Schererville’s inspector and vice-versa. Mr. Forbes explained at the end of the year, depending upon usage, the Town may owe Schererville for inspection services or Schererville may owe St. John, which equalizes the costs associated with the agreement.

Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions on the agreement. There were no questions. Mr. Forbes asked for a motion to adopt Resolution No. 2016-01-28A. “So moved,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

C. CONSIDER RESOLUTION NO. 2016-01-28A, A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE CLERK-TREASURER TO WRITE-OFF UNCOLLETIBLE BAD DEBT. (AMBULANCE FEES).

Mr. Forbes noted the next item on the agenda was Resolution No. 2016-01-28A, a Resolution authorizing the Clerk-Treasurer to write-off uncollectible bad debt. He asked if there were any questions on this resolution. There were no questions.

(General discussion ensued.)

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adopt Resolution No. 2016-01-28A. So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Jorgensen seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

D. ACCEPTANCE OF THE ANNUAL REPORT AND COMPREHENSIVE REPORT FROM THE REDEVELOPMENT COMMISSION.

Mr. Forbes noted the next item on the agenda was the Annual Report and Comprehensive Report from the Redevelopment Commission. He asked the councilmen if they had any questions. There were no questions

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to accept the Annual Report and Comprehensive Report from the Redevelopment Commission and authorize the same to be filed with the DLGF pursuant to statute. “So moved,” Mr. Barenie. Mr. Jorgensen seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

E. CONSIDER THE 2016 ST. JOHN FIRE DEPARTMENT ROSTER.

Mr. Forbes noted the next item for the Council’s consideration was the 2016 St. John Fire Department Roster. He asked if there were any questions on the fire department roster. There were no questions.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to accept the 2016 St. John Fire Department Roster. Mr. Volk made a motion to accept the 2016 St. John Fire Department Roster. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

REPORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE:

A. TOWN COUNCIL
Mr. Barenie had nothing to report. Mr. Hastings had nothing to report. Mr. Volk had nothing to report.

Mr. Jorgensen stated he would like to respond to a comment from the last Council session wherein some residents had commented on Route 41 and Joliet Street and whether or not a traffic study had been performed, and what would happen in the future at this intersection. He stated that there was discussion about this location being a state highway. Mr. Jorgensen stated that after this discussion at the last Council Meeting, Mr. Kil got in touch with the Deputy Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation and requested that a study be performed. Mr. Kil requested that INDOT analyze, in addition to signalization, whether or not this intersection is suitable to be posted with a “no left-turn” sign as an alternative.

Mr. Jorgensen stated that INDOT has informed the Town that this study is “in the works,” and the Town will be informed when it proceeds in the coming weeks. Mr. Jorgensen stated that the Council would keep the residents of St. John informed.

Mr. Kil stated that INDOT will most likely perform this study as soon as possible. He stated he saw some equipment set up. Mr. Kil stated he does not know how long it will take INDOT to generate a report.

Mr. Forbes stated there has been discussion on an impact fee for roads. He stated the Council seems to be in agreement with this. Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion that due diligence be done to begin the process of study and review of the road impact fee. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Jorgensen seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

B. CLERK-TREASURER
Ms. Hernandez stated that she lost her dear friend and her Deputy Clerk, Michele Tyler. She stated it was unexpected. Ms. Hernandez stated that this past week has been extremely difficult for her office. She stated the community has truly lost a very special person, and Michele Tyler will be missed by many. Ms. Hernandez thanked everyone, particularly, Chief Kveton, for the outpouring support during a very difficult time. She stated it really means a lot to her and her staff.

Ms. Hernandez stated her office continues to transition and make progress. She stated she is looking at ways to streamline the current practices. Ms. Hernandez stated one of the newest additions is a Google calendar on the Clerk-Treasurer’s web page. She stated that meetings, times and locations can be accessed through the calendar. She stated meeting notices, agendas and minutes (once approved) will be accessible through the calendar. Ms. Hernandez stated that this calendar allows the Clerk-Treasurer’s office to communicate amongst departments and with the public as well.

Ms. Hernandez thanked Chief Willman for his 20 years as Fire Chief and 35 years as a firefighter. She stated his dedication to the community is unparalleled.

Ms. Hernandez stated she has an open door policy and she really appreciates the feedback that she has received so far. She stated everyone should feel free to contact her.

C. STAFF
Attorney Austgen had no reports.

Mr. Kil stated he and Attorney Austgen will begin the process of review for the impact fee for the road infrastructure as soon as possible. Mr. Kil stated as far as he can tell, St. John will be the first in the State to adopt a road infrastructure fee (in the event it is adopted). He stated he would keep the Council informed on the progress of this study.

Chief Kveton stated that St. John has been named the second safest community in the State of Indiana, and he is very proud to be a part of this. He thanked all of his current staff and those who came before him.

Chief Kveton reported that an outstanding action was taken by one of his officers. He stated approximately a week ago there was a missing, endangered elderly lady out of Illinois who was spotted in the Northwest Indiana area. Chief Kveton stated that a resident tried to intervene and get her help but she drove away before assistance arrived. He stated Officer Ron Olson located the elderly woman on Route 41 and was able to get her stopped and provide assistance. Officer Olson brought her back to the station and called her family, who came out and picked up the woman and her car.

Chief Kveton stated yesterday himself, retired Chief Frego and a sergeant went to Indianapolis to the Indiana Chiefs of Police conference and were rewarded for the Department’s accreditation in the State of Indiana. He stated that this was a lot of work that was done before he arrived. He stated the sergeant and many other staff members at the police department worked to revamp the entire St. John Police Department Policies and Procedures handbook. Chief Kveton stated that the Department was recognized for this accreditation achievement yesterday by the Indiana Chiefs of Police Association.

Chief Kveton reminded everyone, even though St. John is the second safest community in the State, all of us can be victims of crime occasionally. He stated the crimes that most concern him are residential burglaries. Chief Kveton stated one frequent tactic burglars might use is to drive around the community and watch people leave their driveways. He stated burglars make the assumption if you’re leaving you’re going to be gone for a few minutes. Chief Kveton stated he has been on several surveillances and caught several burglars and he can assure everyone if they do get in your house, it could be in less than five minutes.

Chief Kveton urged residents to report suspicious vehicles and persons. He stated that if a resident sees anything in their neighborhood that looks suspicious to call 911 and report it to the police department.

Chief Kveton thanked the School Resource Officer. He stated the Officer Sidebender applied for and received a grant from a local vehicle club in the amount of approximately $2,000.00. Chief Kveton stated that the officer was able to purchase a DUI prevention packet with these funds, and together with the school, put together a DUI program.

Chief Willman stated the Fire Department responded to 120 requests for assistance during the month of December, 2015. He then stated exactly how many calls there were in each of the three districts.

Chief Willman then stated that the Fire Department conducts a business meeting on the first Monday of every month. The December, 2015, business meeting included the annual election of officers and board of directors. However, the last two Mondays in December were spent with family.

Chief Willman then explained the benefits of the Volunteer Fire Department. This allows the Fire Department to accept tax-exempt contributions and allows opportunities to provide out-reach programs like CPR classes and car-seat programs.

Chief Willman stated they had an EMS in-service. This was an intensive in-service with a main focus on basic life support.

Chief Willman thanked Ms. Hernandez for her kind words.

Mr. Barenie stated this action goes back to a public comment that was made at a previous meeting. He stated he wanted the Council to know that a full audit from the State Board of Accounts has been requested. He stated that this request has been made on several occasions.

PAYMENT OF BILLS:
Mr. Forbes stated that payment of the bills was the next item on the agenda. He stated he has an amended number of $1,833,654.13 for the docket. He asked if there were any questions on the bills. There were no questions.

Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion on payment of the bills in the amount of $1,833,654.13. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none.

PUBLIC COMMENT:
Mr. Forbes opened the floor for public comment.

Jerry Swets 9490 Joliet Street:
Mr. Swets congratulated Chief Kveton; he stated the residents are happy for him. Mr. Swets gave a word of advice, when good things happen in Town even if you aren’t in charge, take credit for it because when it’s the other way around, he will get blamed for it. Mr. Swets thanked Chief Kveton and the police department.

Mr. Swets stated that there are some unresolved issues. He asked Mr. Forbes about the unresolved lawsuits. Mr. Swets stated that the Town Manager is in the middle of this and also has a pending conversion charge. He reiterated that Mr. Kil has not even been put on administrative leave or fired. Mr. Swets stated it’s kind of like the inmates running the asylum.

Mr. Swets asked Mr. Forbes if there has been any discussion on looking for a replacement for Mr. Kil. Mr. Forbes had no comment. Mr. Swets asked if there have been discussions about placing Mr. Kil on administrative leave or firing him. Mr. Forbes stated he had no comment. Mr. Forbes stated all of Mr. Swets questions pertain to pending litigation and he cannot comment.

Mr. Swets stated Mr. Forbes is responsible for the acts that go on in Town. He asked, as he did at the last meeting, that Mr. Forbes to resign so that the Town can move forward without problems and issues.

Sharon Pacific, 11423 State Line Road:
Ms. Pacific commended the Council on their decision to study a road impact fee. She stated this is a step forward and she really appreciates that the Council is willing to do something.

Ms. Pacific asked the Council what their individual misgivings and concerns are regarding building subdivisions like the proposed Preserves and Greystone in agricultural settings. She asked the Council members if they could give her their own individual opinions on this matter. She asked Mr. Forbes to answer this question. Mr. Forbes stated he had no comment at the present time.

Ms. Pacific asked again if Mr. Forbes had any misgivings at all about the aforementioned. Mr. Forbes stated he had no comments. She asked any of the other councilmen had any comments. There were no comments.

Mr. Hastings commented on the Preserves. He stated that the developer is trying to keep the water where the water is. Mr. Hastings stated that the developer is also trying to preserve as many trees as possible. He stated that a lot more building could have been done in this development but in order to preserve trees they did not build in every location they could have. Mr. Hastings stated that the developer chose a PUD in order to be able to preserve property.

Mr. Hastings stated that with the possible impact fee, maybe the Town will be able to get bigger roads. Ms. Pacific thanked Mr. Hastings for speaking up and stated that she appreciated it.

Vince Casboni, 9679 White Oak Avenue:
Mr. Casboni stated that the proposed Preserve will be right across the road from him. He stated his biggest complaint is whether there will be enough retention/detention ponds. Mr. Casboni stated that Bull Run runs in the back of his property, and they are constantly being flooded out from the north. He asked what is going to happen when the three hundred plus acre subdivision is added. Mr. Casboni stated he has not seen any engineering of this parcel. He stated he has talked about this for the past couple of months.

Mr. Casboni stated the other issue is traffic on White Oak and 93rd Avenue. He stated that a traffic study is supposed to be done. Mr. Casboni stated this evening he was entering St. John from Crown Point at approximately 5:25. He stated that the traffic from US 41 going east was backed up to Palmira Golf Course.

Mr. Casboni addressed Chief Kveton. He stated when he performed his own traffic studies, most of the vehicles on White Oak Avenue are going over the speed limit.

Phil Merna, 9361 Hilltop Drive:
Mr. Merna stated he has a problem with the (unintelligible). He stated that outside the street there is a small pad and a long driveway to the east side of the home. He stated after there are two cars in there, they start filling the street up from Hilltop all the way down to their driveway with their kids and their friends.

Mr. Merna stated when he tries to get out of the driveway, if he ever has an emergency, he is going to have to “hit one of these guys or drag them out of there.”

Mr. Merna stated part of the street from (unintelligible) park coming back west is “no parking.” He asked if the entire south side of the street and/or both sides of the street could be designated as “no parking.” Mr. Merna stated it is very, very narrow street.

Mr. Forbes directed Mr. Merna to contact Mr. Steve Kil and provide him with the information he presented tonight. Mr. Kil stated that this is a matter that may be best addressed by Chief Kveton. Mr. Kil stated that he and Chief Kveton will investigate this matter.

Joe Hero 11723 South Oak Ridge Drive:
Mr. Hero addressed Mr. Barenie, he stated it was good that Mr. Barenie requested an audit. He stated that he commented on a specific audit on the project with the (unintelligible). Mr. Hero stated that this should be highlighted as a specific request in addition to Mr. Barenie’s request.

Mr. Hero asked if the Town was paying to defend Mr. Kil in his conversion charge. He asked who paid the attorney’s fees? What is the position of this Town Board? Mr. Hero stated he did not hear a response.

Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Hero if he had any further comments. Mr. Hero stated since he can’t get a specific answer on attorney’s fees, he asked Mr. Barenie to request that the State Board of Accounts do an audit of all of the attorney’s fees that have been charged to the Town of St. John over the last four years and include in that audit request the adjoining towns of Schererville, Cedar Lake and may be Winfield. Mr. Hero stated a request should be made to look at all of those attorney fees and “see what you see.”

Mr. Hero stated that the Town has given the appearance of authorizing the attorney to pay for political work in regards to the Clerk-Treasurer’s candidacy; he asked that this request (to the Indiana State Board of Accounts) also be specifically highlighted. He stated that the audit should also examine the attorney’s fees relative to the sign issue that occurred on November 2nd.

Mr. Hero requested that Chief Kveton investigate if St. John letter head was used to purchase an Israeli assault rifle, a TAR1, for personal use. He stated that this rumor has been around, and he doesn’t know if it’s true or not. Mr. Hero stated, in his mind, officers get discounts for rifles and guns and “stuff like that.” In addition, Mr. Hero asked Chief Kveton to investigate whether St. John police letter head used to purchase this type of assault rifle.

Mr. Hero stated that there have been allegations of sexual harassment and sexual battery by employees. Mr. Hero stated it is his understanding that one of the plaintiffs in the matter has a police officer who works for the Town. Mr. Hero asked Chief Kveton to investigate whether, in any of the settlement agreements, there was any intimidation or blackmail made to the Complainant to retaliate against her son who is one of your officers. Mr. Hero stated he does not know if this is true or not, but the rumor mill says something about this and he would like Chief Kveton to investigate this matter.

Mr. Hero stated he would also like Chief Kveton to investigate, for the past five years, the use of Spillman which is accessed by “all these police departments.” He stated Chief Kveton should look at all of the entries that were made in St. John to see if they were appropriate. He stated that Chief Kveton should also investigate if the Spillman system was used to, one, alter other police department reports, and, two, if in any way the access of Spillman, by the St. John Police Department, was used to fraudulently bring charges against a St. John policeman.

Mr. Hero asked Chief Kveton to investigate who had access to Spillman, the dates, the time, who has access to the passwords and codes and determine if it was fraudulently used for any purpose.

ADJOURNMENT:
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adjourn. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (5/0). Ayes --- all. Nays --- none. (The meeting adjourned at 7:50 p.m.)

ATTEST:

____________________________________
Beth R Hernandez
Clerk-Treasurer