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G'town reconsiders town hall options

June 25, 2008
Georgetown officials have taken a step back and reappraised their approach to the problems the town has with the town hall building.

InSafe, a state consulting agency that helps municipalities meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements, recently inspected the town hall and issued a report that highlighted several problems with the building, some of which needed to be addressed within weeks of the report.

At first, town officials considered a short-term solution — moving town offices into a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer, which could be parked in the town hall parking lot. The trailer would have to be transported from Rushville, which, including set-up expenses, would cost the town about $7,310, said Jim Reynolds, public works director.

"It would also be expensive to return the trailer once we're through with it," Reynolds said.

Local businessman Don Farnsley told the council that the town hall building is structurally sound, but needs repair.

"This is a historical building," Farnsley said. "If you decide to repair and rebuild this building, I have a house the town can use for meetings, free of charge, while the repairs are being made. And if the council will donate their salaries to help repair the building, I'll donate a like amount."

At a special meeting on June 10, three local businessmen approached the council about renting space to the town for use as a town hall. After looking at the proposals the three submitted to the council, it was decided that Roger Harbinson, who had commercial space for rent at $750 a month on Copperfield Drive, had the best offer.

Reynolds said the town would have to have an asbestos inspection on the town hall building regardless of what is decided.

"That will have to be done if we rebuild, or even if we tear the building down," Reynolds said.

Reynolds went on the say that a grant with the Historical Landmarks Foundation of Indiana had been approved that would help pay for an engineer to do a structural inspection of the building, to determine if it was feasible to rebuild or remodel it. The study would cost about $3,125. The town would only be responsible for $600 of the cost, and the grant would pay for the rest.

A motion to approve paying the $600 passed 3-1, with Aaron Striegel voting no. Karla Perkins was absent.

The council then discussed moving the town hall to the Harbinson property, saying that it would allow the council time to get an idea of how much it would cost to remodel the current town hall, and if that appeared too costly, the town could take a bulldozer to it and rebuild.

"We need to gather all the information we can and make the best decision," Council President Billy Stewart said.

The council then approved a motion to accept a lease agreement with Harbinson.

The council also discussed the adoption of a fiscal plan in regards to the annexation of the O'Brien property, 23 acres the town bought for the purpose of building a new wastewater treatment facility.

"You have to have a plan," Stewart said. "Will it take more firemen? More police officers? This plan will tell us what it will cost to annex the O'Brien property.

"If we accomplish that, we will zone five acres of it for a sewage treatment plant. The rest will be zoned agricultural."

The council voted on the motion to proceed with a fiscal plan, which passed 3-1 (Mike Mills voted no).

The actual annexation of the O'Brien property and "the property that makes it contiguous to the town" was then discussed by the council.

"This is for the purpose of building a sewage treatment plant," Stewart said. "This is the first reading. There has to be a public hearing on the issue.

The council voted to introduce the plan, which passed 3-1, with Mills voting no.

It was then decided to hold a public hearing on the matter on Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. at 1116 Copperfield Drive. The motion passed 3-1, with Mills voting no.

In other business, the council heard from Rachele Cummins, representing Georgetown resident Susan Griffin, asking the town to rewrite an ordinance on kennel licensing.

Cummins said the existing ordinance does not allow for anyone in the town who has over four pets to abide by the law. The ordinance does not allow for private individuals to own more than four pets, and there is no means of applying for a kennel license.

"The town has no application for a kennel license," Cummins said. "There's no paper to fill out to get a kennel license, no application. The town should make an ordinance change."

"Floyd County is working on a county-wide ordinance," Jim Montgomery, town attorney, said, "but it hasn't passed yet."

"I don't like having that many dogs in that area," Striegel said. "I live in that area."

"We're just asking you to create the license that the ordinance calls for," Cummins said. "There needs to be a licensing procedure."

Montgomery also gave the council a modified engagement contract agreement, which would specify what his responsibilities are to the council and the town.

The town is now paying four attorneys — Montgomery, the council's legal council; D.A. Andrews, its attorney for sewage issues; a bond attorney; and just-hired Greg Fifer, who was hired to work on annexation issues.

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