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Marengo schedules public hearings

Marengo schedules public hearings Marengo schedules public hearings
By Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer [email protected]

The Marengo Town Council decided at its Nov. 15 to have two public hearings, both on Dec. 6 beginning at 6 p.m.

The first hearing concerns the council’s effort to update the town’s wastewater treatment facilities. The project would entail updates and improvements to the plant, including adding a back-up clarifier and updating the four pump stations. The facility is 40 years old.

The Dec. 6 hearing will be an opportunity for residents to learn more about the project and to have any questions answered, explained Jennifer Matheis, project assistant with Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission.

At the November meeting, council members noted the project is sorely needed to keep the plant operational and avoid potential non-compliance issues with the state.

The town could face daily fines if a back-up clarifier isn’t installed.

“We’re choosing to be proactive and take care of the problem now rather than face fines in the future,” said council president Mike Haverstock. “We either do it now and get funding or pay ourselves in the future.”

The town is seeking a grant and low-interest USDA loan to pay for the project, which is expected to carry a price tag of between $800,000 and $900,000.

The impact on local rates has yet to be determined. It was noted wastewater rates have not been increased in more than 25 years.

Matheis said public support plays a big role in securing funding. Residents are encouraged to write letters of support and complete a brief survey. Contact the town hall for further information. Residents may also email Matheis directly at [email protected]

The town hopes to secure funding by December and start the project in 2022.

The second public hearing in December will concern a proposed amendment to the town’s livestock ordinance.

The council has decided to allow residents to keep chickens — up to 12 hens, no roosters — on their property, with some restrictions.

Chickens must be contained in a coop under humane conditions, and the structure must be at least 10 feet from the property line.

The chickens must not pose a noise or odor issue for neighbors.

The council voted 2-1, with Jerry Hanger Jr. opposing, to give pay raises to council members, town clerk and deputy clerk. It was noted those rates haven’t been increased in 12 years.

The council is working with a firm to ensure the town is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title 6, as required to be eligible for state and federal funding.

The council discussed property upkeep, noting town employees have been bush-hogging, trimming trees and cleaning ditches, including on private properties that have been let go.

Hanger said the town needs to follow established ordinances and keep up-to-date records regarding work. That, he said, would provide opportunity for the town to attempt to recoup its cost through a lien on the properties if owners don’t pay the bill.

Council member Eddie Wetzel was frustrated, saying it’s the same properties over and over, and the owners won’t take responsibility.

The council agreed that starting next year employees will keep documentation when they clean up unkempt properties.

Wetzel shared that chainsaw artist Paul Moon is going to use cedar trees that were removed from Marengo Cemetery to make a cross to be placed at the cemetery entrance.

The council heard from Jon Sweetland, owner of Sweetland Waste Removal and Recycling, who presented a proposal for trash removal should the town need his company’s services.

Sweetland provides trash removal in Milltown. He said in the event the town’s garbage truck can’t collect, his company can step in.