March 24, 2016 Town Council Minutes
|Michael Forbes||Clerk-Treasurer, Beth Hernandez|
|Mark Barenie||Town Manager, Steve Kil|
|Steve Hastings||Chief Fred Willman|
|Christen Jorgensen||Chief James Kveton|
CALL TO ORDER:
Mr. Forbes called the March 24, 2016, regular Town Council meeting to order at 7:18 p.m.
(The Pledge of Allegiance was said.)
Clerk Treasurer, Beth Hernandez took roll call with the following council members present: Michael Forbes, Mark Barenie, Greg Volk, and Steve Hastings. Christian Jorgensen was absent. Attorney David Austgen was present. Town Manager, Steve Kil, was present. Chief James Kveton was present. Chief Fred Willman was present.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: JANUARY 28, 2016
Mr. Forbes stated that he would entertain a motion on the minutes of January 14 and January 28. He asked if there were any questions on the meeting minutes. There were no questions. Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion on the minutes. “I’ll make that motion,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- four. Nays --- none.
PROCLAMATION TO CONSIDER FIBROMYALGIA AWARENESS DAY.
Mr. Forbes stated that there was a Proclamation to Consider Fibromyalgia Awareness day as a proclamation for May 12, 2016. He read the proclamation as follows:
“Whereas, an estimated ten million people in the United States and millions of people worldwide have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a disease for which there is no cause or cure; and whereas, it often takes an average of five years to receive a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and medical professionals frequently are inadequately educated on the diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia; and whereas, fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder becoming an increasingly common diagnosis and taking a toll emotionally, financially and socially on patients, their families, friends, co-workers and community; and whereas, people with fibromyalgia are never completely symptom free; they are always in pain, this pain impacts every area of their life and others must step in to fill in the void left when all of the patient’s efforts are focused on just getting through the day, showing just how much fibromyalgia truly hurts everyone; and whereas, the chronically ill place a larger burden on the health care and insurance industries and businesses that must cover the costs and expenses associated with their treatment, medication and sometimes hospitalizations; and whereas, increased awareness and expanded knowledge of the realities of life with fibromyalgia will allow the community at large to better support patients and their families, friends, co-workers and employers who struggle with the challenges of this chronic pain disorder; and whereas, fibromyalgia unite the National Fibromyalgia Association, the Fibromyalgia Network and other groups around our country have joined together to promote fibromyalgia awareness and support including improved education, diagnosis, research and treatment.
Now, therefore, I, Michael S. Forbes, do hereby recognize the needs of the chronically ill people and proclaim May 12, 2016, as Fibromyalgia Awareness Day in St. John, Indiana, and urge all of our citizens to support the search for a cure and assist those individuals and families who deal with this devastating disorder on a daily basis.”
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to declare May 12, 2016, Fibromyalgia Awareness Day in St. John and authorize signature of the proclamation. “So moved,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Barenie seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- four. Nays --- none.
A. CONSIDER THE REQUEST OF THE SAFETY VILLAGE FOR A $22,000.00 DONATION.
Mr. Forbes noted the next item for the Council’s consideration was a request from the Safety Village for a $22,000.00 donation. He stated that the Council was approached last year by Mr. Jarvis, who explained then the need to change the amount of money that is donated to the Safety Village in order to continue its operation and the great work they do there. Mr. Forbes asked if there any questions on the donation. Mr. Volk noted it was the same amount as last year. Mr. Forbes acknowledged that the donation was the same amount as last year’s donation.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to approve the annual donation to the Safety Village in the amount of $22,000.00. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- four. Nays --- none.
B. CONSIDER THE PURCHASE OF A NEW FIRE ENGINE FOR THE ST. JOHN FIRE DEPARTMENT.
Mr. Forbes noted the next item for the Council’s review and consideration is the purchase of a new fire engine for the St. John Fire Department. Mr. Kil stated that the Fire Department is seeking permission to go out for bids. He stated that he has submitted a memo to the Council outlining exactly how the Fire Department proposes to purchase the new vehicle. Mr. Kil stated the plan is to put $200,000.00 down and borrow the rest from a local bank.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions. There were no further questions. Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion. “l’ll make that motion,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- four. Nays --- none.
C. DISCUSSION REGARDING THE TAX APPEAL PROCESS AND THE EFFECTS ON THE MUNICIPALITY.
Mr. Forbes stated the next item on the Council’s agenda was discussion regarding the tax appeal process and the effects on the municipality. Mr. Forbes introduced Ms. Melody Kikkert, St. John Township Assessor.
Ms. Kikkert stated tonight she wanted to explain the potential financial impact the tax appeal process could have on the Town. She stated that presently there is legislation that is called Our Big Box Store. Ms. Kikkert stated that what is happening is that the appeals are coming in and they are finding comp properties that are vacant and abandoned. She stated assessments are coming in roughly anywhere between $35 to $40 per square foot.
Ms. Kikkert used St. John’s Target as an example. She stated she paid to have an appraisal done for one year to show that they are accurately and fairly assessing. She stated that the appraisal came in at roughly about $75.00 per square foot. Ms. Kikkert stated that the appraisal that the other party is coming in with is right around $38.00 per square foot. She stated that this practice could have a devastating impact on the Town.
Ms. Kikkert stated she was here tonight to find a way to work with the Council as far as protecting the investments for the Town. She submitted a couple of handouts to the council. Ms. Kikkert cited the big box stores in St. John: Target, Tractor Supply Center, Strack & Van Til, the old K-Mart building and Northwoods, and the potential that this appeal process could have on the community could be quite devastating.
Ms. Kikkert stated in order to handle the appeals and win at the state level, expert evidence is needed. She stated the law firm that is representing Target right now is Baker & Daniels. Ms. Kikkert stated expert evidence is needed because they will be coming in with appraisals, there will be a hearing, and the Town needs to have someone on their side as well. Mr. Kil asked Ms. Kikkert to explain how this assessment process is affecting some of the other communities that the Town has met with.
Mr. Weiser introduced himself to the Council. He stated that he came along to explain the tax appeal process and help people to understand what’s been going on across Lake County and across the state. Mr. Weiser stated that Lake County and other municipalities are finding that these tax appeals are going to be really devastating to the cities, towns, schools and TIF Districts.
Mr. Weiser explained that TIF Districts usually have debt associated with them, and the money that comes in from the increments on the types of stores previously mentioned is what pays the TIF debt. Mr. Weiser explained that when a company appeals and wins the appeal, depending on when it was filed, there are times when a refund has to be made for the amount of money that was overcharged.
Mr. Weiser stated they have just finished calculating one appeal in two communities for one store, Lowes. He stated that if the Lowes located in Merrillville wins the appeal and they settle at $60 per square foot, the monies owed to them will be approximately $847,000.00. He stated that would be a one-time check that the county would write, but the tax settlement is taken away from the city/town or TIF District.
Mr. Weiser stated if the Town is looking for money to pay their bonds, the $847,000.00 for the one store is eight years of their revenue. He explained if the Town intends to pay their debt service based on revenue coming in from the four or five big box stores in St. John, they won’t be able to pay their bills. He stated when the TIF District doesn’t pay their bills, then the enabling agency becomes the entity to pay the bill.
Mr. Weiser reiterated if the TIF District does not have the revenue, the Town’s coffer, the general fund gets hit at distribution. He stated this happened in Munster and Crown Point this year. He stated this is a lot of money and it is pretty devastating. Mr. Weiser stated he believed that Crown Point was approximately a half a million dollars short after they refunded the Franciscan Alliance.
Mr. Weiser stated although St. John is a smaller community and it doesn’t have quite the exposure that other towns do, it is coming down the road and it will affect everyone. He stated in St. John, they have the ability to grow the tax rate before they hit the tax caps and some of the other communities aren’t so lucky. Mr. Weiser stated when the tax rate is raised, it goes right to the citizens because someone has to pick up the slack.
Mr. Weiser stated every time an assessment drops, somebody else out there will pick up the slack and it’s going to be the citizens/taxpayers whose taxes are raised and they’re going to want to know why. He stated that there are not a lot of people speaking out against the tax appeals. Everybody is quiet. Mr. Weiser stated it’s only after the tax appeal process is over do people start talking about them. He stated each community needs to be proactive and try to support the assessed values that we have now. Mr. Weiser stated that the assessed values need to be kept where everybody can continue to do business just the way they are doing it now.
Mr. Weiser recommended that people don’t do business with the people that are trying to take money away from you. He stated firms like Baker Baker & Daniels are out there trying to get money from both sides.
Mr. Weiser stated Ms. Kikkert is going around and trying to get the tax appeal facts out. He stated that the assessors need the Town’s voice and the support of the community before these things happen. Mr. Weiser stated that they are not getting the support from the county that they should be getting. He stated they have to go and get some voice and support for their positions to cover their communities.
Ms. Kikkert stated she does not want to accept anything without the Council’s knowledge. She stated she had the appraisal done on Target and she feels it was accurately and fairly assessed to within about a $5.00 range. Ms. Kikkert stated coming up with the appraisals that she’s up against and with the law firms from Indianapolis, it’s going to be a tough fight without support from the communities which this affects.
Ms. Kikkert stated she grew up in St. John and she lives in Schererville and the communities and the taxpayers are so important. She reiterated she is doing everything she can to protect the assessment and to protect the tax dollars as well.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Kil stated that the Town just has to be glad that they don’t have any TIF debt so they don’t have to worry about any payments. He stated that the Town does not have to worry about its tax draws. Mr. Kil stated tonight’s meeting was held in order to get the Town ready to participate in a multi-community initiative where communities can band together and fight this as it’s going to have a substantial impact on the community. Mr. Kil stated that assessments are being done based on abandoned stores, et-cetera. He stated the comps they are using are ridiculous. Mr. Kil stated that the Town really needs to watch out for themselves. He stated that “trickledown effect” that Mr. Barenie referred to earlier could really hurt the Town.
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any further comments. There were no further comments. Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to participate in the multi-community initiative to appraise and establish fair market values as a result of EGA 1290. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. Ayes --- four. Nays --- none.
D. CONSIDER RESOLUTION NO. 16-03-24, A RESOLUTION APPROVING AND AUTHORIZING THE SALE OF CERTAIN TOWN-OWNED REAL ESTATE FOR THE PURPOSE OF DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATED WITH RENAISSANCE UNIT 8 AND ALL MATTERS RELATED THERETO.
Mr. Forbes noted the next item on the agenda was Resolution No. 16-03-24, a resolution approving and authoring the sale of certain town real estate for the purpose of development associated with Renaissance, Unit 8 and all matters related thereto. He asked Attorney Austgen to explain Resolution No. 16-03-24.
Attorney Austgen explained that Resolution No. 16-03-24 is compliant with the statutory process for the exchange of a parcel of land with the developer for infrastructure improvements that have already been proposed, presented and reviewed by the Plan Commission. He stated that tonight is the statutory process this parcel must go through.
Mr. Kil added that this sale of real estate has been planned since the annexation of the Gates of St. John and it is reflected on every Town map and drawing. He stated all of the detention to the new subdivision has been provided for, and this parcel is an old abandoned detention basin. Mr. Kil stated that the Town just recently acquired this property back from the County. Mr. Kil stated tonight’s resolution will effectuate the transfer of this parcel from the Town to the developer to allow the infrastructure improvements to be put in.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Forbes asked if there were any questions from the councilmen. There were no questions. Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to adopt Resolution No. 16-03-24. “l’ll make that motion,” by Mr. Volk. Mr. Hastings seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- four. Nays --- none.
REPORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE:
Mr. Forbes asked for any comments from the councilmen.
Mr. Barenie stated he wanted to inform the residents that he believed the State has finally begun its audit of the Town’s books. He stated an audit has been requested by the Council several times. Mr. Barenie stated that the audit has been in the process for the past couple of days.
Mr. Barenie stated after hearing what Ms. Kikkert had to say tonight, the Town is going to have to pull together as hard as they can against the tax appeals. He stated it is the equivalent of a household losing their job; it will have a big impact on the Town if it goes through.
Mr. Forbes stated last year the road project for 2016 was discussed. He stated that the Oakwood subdivision was on the list. Mr. Forbes stated that the Council had been presented with a petition from the residents of Oakwood Drive to have the road paved, although Oakwood Drive was already scheduled to be done.
Mr. Forbes stated that the Town has been given the opportunity to use the 2015 bid numbers from Walsh & Kelly, or they could bid the job all over again. He stated that Haas & Associates Engineering ran some numbers and the total project cost for using the Walsh Kelly numbers is $223,907.00, and this is based on last year’s number.
Attorney Austgen stated that the statute permits the Council to do this upon an offer or suggestion of the same from the vendor.
Mr. Forbes asked the Council if they wanted to go out for bids or use the 2015 number of $223,907.00.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Kil stated that the if the Council was happy with Walsh & Kelly’s work, accepting the 2015 bid is definitely something to consider. Mr. Kil stated that if the old bid is accepted, the paving would begin immediately in the spring.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion to authorize Walsh & Kelly’s 2015 price for the Oakwood subdivision road project, the total cost with contingencies is $234,052.35. “So moved,” by Mr. Hastings. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- four. Nays --- none.
Ms. Hernandez stated that the audit began a couple of days ago, but it is not too far along yet. She stated she would keep everyone updated with any findings.
Ms. Hernandez stated additional office hours were added to the Clerk-Treasurer’s schedule for the residents. She stated the office is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on the second Saturday of every month the office is now open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Ms. Hernandez stated March 12 was the first Saturday the Clerk-Treasurer’s office was open and they were pleasantly surprised at how many residents utilized the extended office hours. She stated 32 people stopped in the office on the first Saturday that the Clerk’s office was open.
Ms. Hernandez noted that the employees’ schedules have been altered to accommodate the Saturday schedule and no overtime is being paid.
Ms. Hernandez referred back to the audit. She stated the State is auditing the fiscal years 2012 to 2015. She reiterated her promise to keep everyone updated of any findings.
Ms. Hernandez informed the Council that she has hired a new Chief Deputy Clerk-Treasurer, Marilyn Hrnjak. She stated Ms. Hrnjak comes to the Town with a wealth of knowledge, experience and an extensive background. She stated Ms. Hrnjak is an attorney who has spent the last several years serving as Executive Chief Deputy Clerk for Michael A. Brown of Lake Circuit and Superior Courts. Ms. Hernandez stated she is thrilled to have Ms. Hrnjak join her staff.
Attorney Austgen had nothing to report.
Mr. Kil informed the Council that he should have the quote for the Town’s roadway impact fee from the consultant by next week, and he would send the same out upon receipt.
Chief Kveton informed the residents that northwest Lake County area has been experiencing residential burglaries over the last month or so. He stated that a white, GM-type panel van or a white or silver hatchback type vehicle is being looked at in connection with the residential burglaries. Chief Kveton cautioned the residents if they see vehicle like this in their neighborhood that looks suspicious or doesn’t belong, please call 911 and have an officer come out and check it out.
Chief Kveton stated another issue that was brought to the Department’s attention by a local jurisdiction is the criminal element who will come in and steal copper from construction sites, which is also happening in the area. Chief Kveton stated that the department has photographs of a light gray or tan GM pickup truck or a very dark pickup truck. He stated this type of crime typically happens after work hours when all of the construction workers have gone home. He cautioned the citizens if they see a construction site in their neighborhood and if there’s a vehicle there well after work hours, call 911 and have the police come out and check the site. Chief Kveton stated that the residential burglaries are happening in the surrounding areas during the day when people are at work.
Chief Kveton stated when he started his position a couple of months ago, he was made aware of a constant problem that’s been happening over the past several years in the area of Patterson and 81st, where it crosses the CSX railroad tracks. He stated railroad tracks are frequently blocked because a train pulls in and delivers at Schilling Lumber.
Chief Kveton stated this is an unusual situation because this train track crosses the Norfolk Southern train track right outside by the Town’s Public Work’s garage. He stated that the crossover has to be cleared to be able to make their delivery and the trains extend all the way to 81st. Chief Kveton stated he has been working with the Federal Railroad Administration and the CSX public affairs officials and also getting some great help from the residents. He stated the residents have been his eyes and ears when it comes to date, time of day and the how long the train is blocking those crossings. He stated this information is very important in order to get this problem solved. Chief Kveton asked the residents to keep providing him with this information.
Chief Kveton informed the residents that at all railroad crossings there is a blue sign with an 800 telephone number and a DOT number. He explained the DOT number is basically the address of the railroad crossing. Chief Kveton stated if the residents see a railroad crossing blocked for more than 10-15 minutes, get the 800 telephone number he referred to earlier and call the CSX helpline, give them the DOT number and let them know how long the crossing has been blocked. He stated this information will help the Federal Railroad Administration get this problem solved.
Chief Kveton stated that the Department’s K-9, Match, and his partner were called about a week ago to assist in finding an autistic child who went missing from a local school. He stated a great deal of credit can be given to Match and his partner in finding the child at a local mini mart.
Chief Kveton stated that this is prom season with the prom to be held at the local high school within the next few weeks. He stated that the Department’s School Resource Officer is working with Triple A to promote safety at prom time. Chief Kveton stated that student safety is uppermost in everyone’s mind at prom time. Students are promising to be safe, not to drive after drinking and get home safely after the evening is over. He stated anyone should feel free to call him for some handout information related to the prom.
Chief Kveton stated he attended a 911 Commission meeting earlier today. He stated that he learned that during the snow event that happened a few weeks ago, the 911 center took in 2,421 calls.
Chief Kveton thanked the residents for staying in communication with him and bringing him a lot of good information.
Chief Willman submitted his report for the month of February, 2016.
PAYMENT OF BILLS:
Mr. Forbes moved on to payment of the bills for the corporation. He stated the general APV docket is eight pages for a total of $1,019,955.95. He asked if there were any questions on the bills. There were no questions.
Mr. Forbes stated he would entertain a motion. “So moved,” by Mr. Barenie. Mr. Volk seconded the motion. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes --- four. Nays --- none.
Mr. Forbes opened the floor to public comment. Mr. Forbes stated tonight is the first night that the new ordinance will be enacted. He stated the Clerk-Treasurer will call a person’s name, the person should step up to the podium and state their name and address for the record. He stated as soon as an individual identifies himself, the clock will start for the three-minute time limit.
Vince Casboni, 9679 White Oak Avenue:
Mr. Casboni stated that in looking at the Preserves, it is 319 acres with 445 homes that are going to be built right across from his home. He stated he took some pictures of the rains that St. John had. Mr. Casboni stated you can see the flooding that he has experienced during the rains. He asked what is going to happen when this subdivision is approved.
Mr. Casboni stated that Bull Run ditch crosses 93rd to 101st and is part of the Huppenthal/Herman land that the Schillings bought. He stated the ditch goes behind Rosewood subdivision and crosses into his property. Mr. Casboni showed a photograph of his back yard. He asked again what is going to happen when the subdivision is approved.
Mr. Casboni stated he has asked a number of time of the engineers, “Where’s the drawings? He stated nobody has given him these. Mr. Casboni stated that is one thing he takes issue with.
Mr. Casboni stated he has asked, “What are they going to do with Bull Run ditch?” He stated the last time the Bull Run ditch was cleaned out was in 1995. He stated this is another matter he has an issue with.
Mr. Casboni mentioned the traffic. He stated the Town is getting too much traffic. He stated he talked to Chief Kveton last month, and if he recalls correctly, the Chief called three or four squad cars within 15 minutes. Mr. Casboni stated he conducted his own traffic study and there were over 917 vehicles in three hours and twenty minutes; he asked again, what will happen when the subdivision comes in.
Mr. Casboni stated then there is the Greystone subdivision, which will have 84 homes. He stated there will be a total of 595 vehicles coming from 101st and Calumet Avenue, go down 101st to White Oak and go either north or south. He asked if the Council was aware that 101st is just 22 feet wide. Mr. Casboni stated nobody says anything about the 2005 traffic flow study that stated it should have been taken care of in 2005. He stated it’s now 2016 and nothing is done.
Mr. Forbes informed Mr. Casboni he had thirty seconds remaining.
Mr. Casboni stated he is a former fire fighter. He asked Chief Willman, “Do we really need another fire engine?” How many runs do they have?
Mr. Forbes instructed Mr. Casboni to direct his questions to the Council.
Gerald Swets, 9490 Joliet Street
Gerald Swets commented that when he signed the list he didn’t realize it was a requirement to be able to speak. He said he was going to start by asking a question, is the public comment time strictly comment time, he can’t ask questions and get any responses?
Mr. Forbes stated he started the clock for Mr. Swets.
Mr. Swets stated he was hoping he could talk to the Council tonight because most of his problems with the building and expansion in Town have to do with decisions of the Building and Planning Commission. He stated they are approving lots smaller than the 100-foot minimum as stated in the ordinances, and he wants this Board to know what’s going on.
Mr. Swets stated he knows Mr. Forbes understands because he also sits on the Plan Commission, but he wants everybody on this Board to understand this as well, the minimum lot size for R-1 and R-2 is 100 feet. He stated he would like this Board to encourage enforcement of those ordinances. Mr. Swets stated that the two factors that will drive down the housing values are going to be smaller lots and multi-family buildings.
Mr. Swets stated that the Town has a guideline of eight percent of multi-family units. He asked the Council to look at this guideline and think about revising it. Mr. Swets stated at the last meeting he asked about the eight percent, and the eight percent doesn’t count units it counts buildings. He stated that this number will skew all of the numbers. Mr. Swets stated a house, a duplex and a quad all count as one unit. Mr. Swets stated that this doesn’t seem to add up properly. He stated if things keep going at this rate and the Building Commission can keep approving quads, before you know it 32 percent of the residences in this Town will be multi-family. Mr. Swets reiterated his request that the Council look at revising this goal, number or ordinance. He stated he’s not sure what it is.
Mr. Swets stated another area of concern is the approval process for the Preserves. He stated this was done based on a one-day traffic study. He stated a one-day traffic study for adding 430 homes really does not seem adequate. Mr. Swets stated one resident asked the Town engineer if the traffic study included the summer traffic to the ball fields for the baseball and softball players. Mr. Swets stated the engineer responded “Yes, it does.” He stated he didn’t believe it then and he doesn’t believe it now. Mr. Swets stated it was impossible. He stated there wasn’t anything on the study that addressed this issue.
Mr. Swets stated that the development was approved and they said they were going to look at the traffic again in five years.
Mr. Forbes stated Mr. Swets had 30 seconds remaining.
Mr. Swets stated that the Town’s own master plan says the study should be done in three to five years. He stated he does not understand why the Town is letting the developers make these decisions and run away with things like this. Mr. Swets stated, “It’s totally out of control,” and he thinks this Board could do something about it. He stated he’s also concerned about the green space and the wetlands.
Mr. Swets commented, “Mr. President, I wondered why you weren’t willing to work with the Lake County Park Department when they wanted to put a full run county park in.” Mr. Swets stated when he talked to the Park Department they said they wanted to put a park there and they said they were told by Mr. Kil that the Town wanted to develop this land instead.
Mr. Forbes told Mr. Swets his time was up.
Brian Blazak, 9299 Franklin Drive:
Mr. Blazak stated in follow-up to Mr. Swet’s comments that Mr. Kil was asked a month or two ago about this calculation that calculates the eight percent for multi-unit housing in Town and Mr. Kil said he wasn’t sure exactly how it was done. Mr. Blazak asked, “Do you know now how that eight percent is calculated? Who is responsible for the calculation? And how do I go to the Clerk’s office and put in a public request so I can get a copy of that calculation? How it’s done and all that’s included.”
Mr. Kil stated that this information is included in the Town’s comprehensive plan. Mr. Blazak asked if anything was kept on a day-to-day, week-to-week or month-to-month basis as these items are approved. He asked if anyone updates this information. Mr. Kil stated this information is not updated every week, it is done once every year to two years. Mr. Kil stated that there is no point in doing it every week.
Mr. Blazak stated when a new subdivision like the Preserves is being put in with four hundred some odd houses, you have to add the eight percent to that. He stated next is Greystone, which has multiplexes which has to be added in. Mr. Blazak asked who is keeping these calculations. Mr. Kil stated Greystone has not been approved yet, and the Preserves is all single family housing.
Mr. Blazak said his question was this, “If the houses are approved, you have eight percent of those houses, okay, so you need a calculation so when the next developer comes and says I want to put in 80 multiplexes, you can look at the calculation and go, no, you can’t really do that, you can only have 45. So who keeps that calculation up-to-date?” Mr. Blazak stated doing it once every one or two years is irresponsible. Mr. Blazak asked how they know the calculation. Mr. Kil stated he doesn’t know that he ever said that, but he knows for a fact that the multi-housing is right around eight percent.
Mr. Blazak stated if Mr. Kil knows for a fact and you want to have a calculation, the public should know. Mr. Kil stated it is in the Comprehensive Plan and it was just done.
Paul Zlotkowski, 12040 West 83rd Place:
Mr. Zlotkowski stated he had pictures and asked if he could approach the Council. He submitted pictures to the Council.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mr. Zlotkowski explained about a beaver problem that he had in his neighborhood and how Josh from Groen’s Wildlife captured the beavers and if it weren’t for Josh Groen last year there were lots of properties that would have been destroyed. Mr. Zlotkowski stated before winter, the ground still wasn’t hard enough to open up the blockages. He stated Public Works came out on a real crappy day just before winter and opened up another opening and the water was flowing.
Mr. Zlotkowski stated this year he kept watching to make sure the water is flowing and no beavers returned and plugged up the openings. He stated that there is still around 15 feet that’s plugged up out of a 20-foot stretch. He stated that the water is backed up and it’s stagnant. Mr. Zlotkowski stated he went back and forth with Public Works to see if anyone could do anything. He wanted the water way opened a little more so the water could move as it was stagnant.
Mr. Forbes stated Mr. Zlotkowski had thirty seconds remaining.
Mr. Zlotkowski stated a person gets pretty depressed when you see things in the paper or hearing about the heights of the fountains in the dog park while his property is getting destroyed.
(General discussion ensued.)
Mary Therese Robert, 11990 Heron Lake Road:
Mrs. Robert stated she has been before the Council numerous times. She stated she has researched what other towns and cities have done and forwarded these ideas to the Town. Mrs. Robert stated she is trying to make St. John the best, and it is not for personal or self-serving reasons.
Mrs. Robert stated that the trains going through Town have become a big problem that has put the neighborhood in danger regarding police, fire, ambulance, emergency vehicles and private citizens trying to get medical attention. She stated it causes good drivers stress and causes them road rage and they are bringing it to the subdivision by speeding or disregarding stop signs.
Mrs. Robert gave the Town Council a rundown for the month of the crossing being stopped, 5:55 to 7:23 on the first, on the third, 5:55 to 7:20, the sixth, 5:15 to 5:55, on 3-7, repairs were made between 10:50 and 11:40. She stated the gate was blocked from 4:47 to 6:02 on the tenth, from 5:05 to 6:13 on 3-11, 7:40 to 8:40 on 3-12, 4:50 to 5:40 on 3-15, 4:15 to 5:18 on 3-20.
Mrs. Robert stated she did some research and according to Indiana Code 8-6-7.51, no train is to sit for more than ten minutes and they must allow five minutes between trains and the infraction is $200.00. She stated in 2013, CSX took over the Elston line and they reached agreement with the Surface Transportation Board that if a train was blocking an intersection longer than ten minutes, the train would be split. Mrs. Robert stated that they are not living up to this agreement, and it’s the responsibility of the Town to ensure the residents of St. John safety.
Mrs. Robert stated that Munster, Hammond and Griffith are enforcing the Indiana Code. She stated it would be a big help to the Council if everyone could work as one. She stated we belong to one region and there is the RDA and NIRPCI. She stated St. John is not involved in anything and she doesn’t understand why the Town is secluded.
Mr. Forbes noted that Chief Kveton mentioned in his monthly report that he is working on the issue of railroad crossings. Chief Kveton acknowledged Mr. Forbes comment.
Dale Robert 11990 Heron Lake Road:
Mr. Robert stated he would like to take a moment to inform the residents of St. John that he is sorry for having any part of the inappropriate termination of (unintelligible name). He stated Ordinance 1623 was passed “under the table” last month without being on the agenda, being discussed before the Council and without comment from any residents, another inappropriate action.
Mr. Robert stated, then again, most public meetings are (unintelligible). Mr. Robert stated this shows that Mr. Forbes should be removed from the Town Council and Plan Commission because of his inability to control inappropriate behavior at a meeting.
Mr. Robert addressed Mr. Kil.; he said before he was interrupted at the meeting last month, Mr. Kil asked him what his point was. Mr. Robert stated his point is that Mr. Kil’s behavior regarding the tort claims, indictments, hiring practices, nepotism, pending lawsuits and purchases without bids makes him assume Mr. Kil is overwhelmed with the task of running the Town. Mr. Robert stated, “The point is, you should be placed on administrative leave and/or replaced immediately.” Mr. Robert stated that the Council works for the residents not for themselves.
Ms. Hernandez called Drew Schwalm to speak. There was no response. She called Mr. Tom Parada.
Tom Parada, 9535 Joliet Street:
Mr. Parada stated he brought his own stopwatch so violence would not break out if he went over the allotted time. He stated he had written down things he wanted to talk about. Mr. Parada stated that the residents wait an entire month to get to a Town Council meeting to say what’s on their minds; he stated it’s like swatting flies off.
Mr. Parada stated it is disgusting, immoral and heartbreaking to see that the Town he has lived in for 57 years has come down to this. He stated last month was nothing but a joke. Mr. Parada addressed Chief Kveton and told him he liked him a lot.
Mr. Forbes instructed Mr. Parada to direct his comments to the Council. Mr. Parada stated his point is, “That was all a big mistake.” He stated he has worked security before and he knows when someone is coming at someone looking for trouble. Mr. Parada stated he trusts Chief Kveton.
Mr. Parada stated that, “Dale had no idea that we were going to be cut down to three minutes that day. Mike, that was your job, to stop that --- as he said already.” Mr. Parada stated that the bigger point is that there was a time that this Town had half the population it has now and there were 22 to 27 meetings per year. He pointed out the Town is the largest it’s ever grown, the busiest it’s ever grown and with the most problems it’s ever had.
Mr. Parada stated there are railroad problems, building problems, road problems and lawsuit problems. He stated that the Town has every kind of problem you can imagine, and now is the time that the Council cuts down on the amount of the meetings. Mr. Parada stated, ironically, it just happens that the number of meetings are cut down when more people are showing up at the meetings.
Mr. Parada stated he looks at every one of the Council members as “immoral beings” for doing what they are doing. He stated he had other things to say. Mr. Parada stated when he sees people come up to the podium for three minutes, hustle through what they have to say and turn around and go back to their seat whether they’re done or not --- it’s pathetic. He stated he was quoted in the paper as saying, “This town stinks.” Mr. Parada stated that the Town doesn’t stink just some of the leadership. He stated it is an absolute pity --- he’s almost sorry that he’s still alive to see this after being here for 57 years.
Mr. Forbes informed Mr. Parada he had 30 seconds remaining.
Mr. Parada told Mr. Forbes he was aware of the time remaining because he brought his own stopwatch and he knows how to tell time. He stated that it feels to him like the dome is closing up on the Town, first, it’s fewer meetings, then it’s three minute statements. Mr. Parada stated next it would be executive sessions and before you know it, residents will be required to make individual appointments. He stated he would be willing to do an individual appointment.
Mr. Forbes thanked Mr. Parada for his statement.
Ms. Hernandez called Dave and Nancy Siminak.
Nancy Simanck, 9005 Morse Street, Crown Point:
Ms. Simanck indicated that her comments would be brief. She stated that she lives in an unincorporated area that is adjacent to Tiberon and an “as of yet” unbuilt/undeveloped parcel of land. She stated she doesn’t know when the next parcel of land is going to be built on. Ms. Simanck stated she feels very strongly that the Council should go back and review the Town’s Comprehensive Plan; she stated she has reviewed the plan extensively. Ms. Simanck stated that there are many passages in the plan that talk about preserving natural features whenever possible, and she doesn’t believe that this is always happening.
Ms. Simanck stated if some of the natural areas were left open, places for water to go and places for trees to absorb water, maybe some of the drainage and flooding problems wouldn’t be so severe. She stated that the Town can’t take down any of the houses that have already been built, but they certainly could look forward and get out there and look at the site and talk to people who are in environmental positions before any plans are approved.
Jerry Koster, 9194 Eggert Lane:
Mr. Koster stated he has been a resident in Town for 18 years. He recalled being able to leave his house with the doors and garage open, and he said that was a pretty good feeling. Mr. Koster stated a lot of things are happening today. He stated that the Town is growing and with growth comes a multitude of problems including traffic and congestion.
Mr. Koster stated, in the last two years, he is getting water in his back yard that he never had before. He stated in his subdivision, Edgewood, he has been a victim of vandalism in the last six months. Mr. Koster stated he doesn’t have answer for this problem, but he wanted the Council to be “cognizant” of it. He recommended one way to curb the vandalism was to establish a neighborhood crime watch program. Mr. Koster stated with increased growth, you have increased problems. Mr. Koster stated he can’t say if it’s all young kids but there is speeding and vandalism. He reiterated to be cognizant when you are growing to make sure you have plans for all these problems.
Mr. Forbes asked if Mr. Koster reported the vandalism to the police department. Mr. Koster stated, “Unfortunately, not.” He mentioned they have a group called Edgewood Subdivision and it was put out through that. Mr. Forbes stated that when it happens to make sure the Chief knows about it so he can figure out a pattern if there is one and have people out there.
Adrian Bugariu 11747 W 90th Avenue
Mr. Bugariu stated that three months ago he told Mark Barenie certain things and he said he would relay that information to you guys and nothing happens 90 days later. Mr. Bugariu advised there is a 66.6 million dollar law suit to be filed against the Town of St. John. He said it is verbal right now for the crimes that have been committed against him for 38 years. Mr. Bugariu mentioned he must be the most arrested person in the history of Lake County, Indiana by criminals in police uniforms, lawyers and judges. He stated cops are bribing lawyers, bribing witnesses, every single one from 1977 until now it will become a lawsuit.
Mr. Bugariu demanded that Beth, David Austgen, Forbes, Barenie and Steve Kil be __. Mr. Bugariu stated if he would have stolen the signs like he did, he would have been hung in jail; election signs, that’s illegal.
Mr. Bugariu stated, secondly, when he was in Mississippi on his exile, someone went in his house; Dahlin had the key since 2006. Mr. Forbes asked if Mr. Bugariu was accusing one of the police officers of breaking into his house. Mr. Bugariu stated that stuff disappeared from his house. Mr. Forbes asked once again if he was accusing one of the police officers of breaking into his house. Mr. Bugariu said his window which was never broken, was broken and raccoons and other animals ransacked his house.
Mr. Bugariu stated in 2007, three weeks after he filed a law suit against Jerri Tiebel and Mike Fryzel, he got his house sold on a tax sale and he saw Jerri Tiebel by his property instigating neighbors and bribing his lawyers. He mentioned when he found out what happened with his latest lawsuit, which was filed properly, his computer was hacked. The next morning he could find nothing on his computer not Guzik’s, a good chief, or his lawsuit against the Town of St. John.
Mr. Forbes stated there were 30 seconds remaining.
Mr. Bugariu mentioned that Ordinance 1623 is a violation against our freedom of speech.
Rita Berg, 10351 Joliet Street
Ms. Berg stated her major complaint tonight is that she has not heard half of what’s being said up here. She mentioned that she sits here because she wants to know about the Town and everything going on and she can’t hear half of it and there’s nothing wrong with her hearing. Ms. Berg mentioned she would appreciate it if they would use the microphones more and speak up especially about the numbers because they aren’t catching it.
Ms. Berg said she had a group question and wanted to know if the meeting are cut in half, does that mean that the Council is getting paid less because there are less meetings or is it just one of those things (unintelligible).
Marko Jurkovic, 11847 West 105th Street
Mr. Jurkovic thanked the Council for having him there tonight and mentioned he is a newer resident who grew up in Lake County. He mentioned with spring time coming around we are starting to get a lot more solicitors coming in and he’s not sure if there is an ordinance established in St. John. He stated a lot of the municipalities in the area do have an ordinance. Mr. Jurkovic mentioned in the last week he had 17 different solicitors. He stated he works in the service industry, but they are required to have background checks on all of the solicitors because, unfortunately, you never know in this day and age. Mr. Jurkovic asked the Council to look into it. Mr. Forbes stated there was a solicitors’ ordinance but that was turned over by the State; they were deemed illegal? Mr. Austgen stated, “Not all of them”. Mr. Forbes stated they had an ordinance in place but he was told he could not enforce it. Mr. Jurkovic stated all he asks is they look into a little bit more. Mr. Forbes stated, “Absolutely.”
Joe Hero, 11723 South Oakridge Drive
Mr. Hero stated he would like to remonstrate against Ordinance 1683. It has a penalty of shutting people’s speech off, any ordinance of a municipality has to be published in the paper, and it’s illegal to just bring it up in a meeting.
Mr. Hero mentioned when you open the bids, in order to make sure there’s no collusion or anything, they should be opened in the public where they can stand around the chair and look at the bids and how they are being opened; that’s how they do it at the County.
Mr. Hero said the other issue is this, since we have gone to the 911 thing in Lake County, he has requested the Police Chief and the Fire Chief to start tracking when the call is put out, when they received the call and when they arrive on the scene. Mr. Hero mentioned he would like the Town Council to demand that they publish that every month for all the calls, both fire and police.
Mr. Hero said for years he has complained about the TIF district and now it’s coming back to bite you so to speak. He mentioned if there is not enough money coming in and taxes aren’t there you are going to be paying out of the public treasury and it’s going to affect the taxes of the Town. He stated it’s a big mistake and poor management; we don’t need TIF districts.
Mr. Hero stated the land that was given to the developer tonight should be out for public bids, we should know the price and what’s going on there.
Mr. Hero said he believes the blacktop thing tonight is illegal and should be rebid. He thinks this will fall on the liability of the Clerk-Treasurer so he urged Mrs. Hernandez to step up to these guys because she will be on the hook in his opinion.
Mr. Hero stated when we pay the bills for these commissions, we need docket sheets and a list of bills. There’s no checks and balances; who knows what you’re paying. Mr. Hero mentioned as far as the road impact, we need to demand that the developers put the roads in because the impact fee is not going to pay in the future money what it’s going to cost to relocate the utilities and everything else.
Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Austgen if we did anything illegal this evening. Mr. Austgen responded, “No.”
Mr. Forbes asked if anyone had anything else to add tonight. There were no additional comments. Mr. Volk made a motion to adjourn. So moved by Mr. Hastings. The motion was carried by voice vote (4/0). Ayes---four. Nays---none. (The meeting adjourned at 8:37 p.m.)
BETH R. HERNANDEZ