Commission approves TIF district
BY ANDREW STEELE
Star Managing Editor
CROWN POINT -- The city's Redevelopment Commission gave final approval Monday to the expansion of the Tax Increment Financing district from the northeast comer of the city south along Broadway to the 1-65 and U.S. 231 interchange.
"This is long overdue," Mayor James Metros said. "This is the only way we can get utilities out to the interchange without raising taxes."
With municipal budgets restricted by state statute, it becomes more and more difficult to expand services, but with expected development at 1-65 and U.S. 231, "it will be done on the backs of commercial and industrial (taxpayers)," Metros said.
City Councilman Robert Corbin (R-5th), also a Redevelopment Commission member, said the TIF expansion and the development that will follow is the culmination of a decade of work that included the East Side sewer project and transition to Lake Michigan water.
"I sense there's an awful lot of enthusiasm in the community for what this project will bring to the city of Crown Point," Corbin said.
Creation of the TIF district allows the city to collect all local property taxes that result from improvements to the district's property, and put that money in a special fund that pays for infrastructure improvements there.
Besides expanding the TIF district, the Redevelopment Commission took the first step Monday toward issuing bonds to pay for the first phase of infrastructure work in the interchange area.
City Engineer Jeff Ban said bids on extending sewer and water mains and other basic infrastructure work were received Monday, and will be awarded later this month. Work is expected to begin in mid-May.
The project cost is estimated at $5 million; sewer and water should cost about $2.1 million, Ban said.
About $4 million of the project will be paid with money to be borrowed through the bond issue by the Redevelopment Commission. The other $1 million will come from the proceeds of the original TIF area.
A public hearing on the proposed bond issue will be held at 7 p.m. May 3 at City Hall.
While the city moves ahead with its development plan, the Merrillville schools continue to remind it that they have an interest in how the TIF district is administered.
Superintendent Anthony Lux told the commission Monday that school officials will continue to push for retirement of the Ross Township portion of the TIF district as soon as possible.
The original purpose of that TIF has been achieved, he said, and he hopes the four-year target for eliminating the Ross Township area of the TIF can be reduced further.
City officials said they'll continue to work with the school officials.
Historic district passes plan
Cynthia's to expand into CP News building
BY ANDREW STEELE
Star Managing Editor
CROWN POINT -- The old news store at 108 S. Main St. won't stay empty long. David and Cynthia Lybolt plan to expand Cynthia's Cafe, currently occupying 110 S. Main St., into the rear half of the old "We Are CP News" and open an ice cream parlor in the front half.
The Lybolts received permission from the Historic District Board of Review last week to renovate the exterior of the building.
"We want to redo the front of it similar to what we did on the cafe," said Cynthia Lybolt.
While the style will be the same, the details will distinguish the new building from the old, she said.
The board approved an awning of either black and white stripes or green and burgundy stripes. The woodwork will be painted a darker green than the cafe's, and there will be copper molding and copper accents between the windows.
The top 12 inches of the windows will include stained glass behind the outer layer of thermal glass.
Lybolt said the cafe's dining room will be extended into the back half of the old news stand. The ice cream parlor in front will be independent.
The parlor's sign will either be printed on the front of the awning, or will be placed on the building where the current "We Are CP News" sign is now.
The board also approved a wood-simulated fiber glass door for the building.
The board also gave the Lybolts permission to repair the soffet and put new gutters on the south side of the building, which is on Parry Court.
They also intend to repaint the brick on the south side, and hire an artist to paint a mural, likely of the downtown, on it. The board said it would consider approving that work after the Lybolts determine the extent of work needed on the wall, and after they have seen a sketch of the mural.
Also at the April 12 meeting, the board continued to review its new guidelines with its consultant, Dana Groves, of the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana.
pipe up over water
BY SEAN MCNAB
Star Staff Writer
WINFIELD -- It was utter chaos at the Plan Commission meeting this past Wednesday, April 12. On the agenda was a sketch plan approval to reduce the water flow into Hidden Creek Subdivision Unit I (HC 1) by offering a diversion of water flow from Hidden Creek Subdivision Unit 2 (HC2) through that of Deer Creek.
The problem was that too much water from the Trees Subdivision was traveling from 18inch overflow pipes to that of 12-inch pipes. To sound this reduction as a disaster was the least of HC 1 problems because the fact was that the 12inch pipes that were suppose to throttle the water out of HC 1 were never installed.
Before any of this got underway though, town resident Marilyn Leonian interrupted the meeting calling a "question of privilege" on the grounds that the meeting was not posted 48 hours in advance.
"This meeting was not posted until 12:51 p.m. today and the rule states that notification must be at least 48 hours prior to the meeting. Furthermore, the residents of the adjoining property, those south on 101 st Avenue, were not notified of this.
Therefore, this meeting should be rescheduled."
Town Building Administrator/Inspector Wilbur Cox reassured Leonian that all that was being proposed was a sketch plan of the site and no voting on the situation was taking place. Plan Commission Attorney Joe Irak followed by saying that procedure was followed and that, indeed, the proper posting took place.
What followed in the next 2 fi hours basically focused on four distinct topics.
First, was the possibilities of eliminating flooding by sending excess drainage north and then east to its neighboring town -- Merrillville.
Engineering the project Suheil Naimmari stated, "We have proposed in our sketch plan to incorporate two 30-inch pipes flowing eastward to alleviate the problems in Hidden Creek."
Not convinced Plan member Greg Lightfoot asked, "By putting in this development, that of HC2, between HC 1 and Trees, will this just add to the problem of the water shortage presently in Trees?"
Town Engineer John Phipps commented, "We do not see any foreseeable problems with the Trees Subdivision. We do see a significant improvement in HC1 through these changes in HC2."
Following was the proposition of using a private septic and well facilities because of the unavailability of sewer water.
Plan Commission Vice-President Paulette Skinner voiced her disapproval by saying, "We just last month denied Rees Funeral Home a variance to a private septic system. This seems arbitrary and capricious to our previous decision.''
It was then explained by Cox that the Rees Funeral Home was zoned Public Development Residential (PDR), thus, mandating that it use sewers. This particular undertaking, HC2, was zoned residential and by ordinance can use either sewer or septic.
Additionally, there was the issue of creating an ingress-egress at 101st Avenue with the addition of constructing 50 lots in HC2.
Naimmari explained, "It is not publicly safe to create an egress on 101st Avenue. There is a 'right of way' problem at the intersection of Clay Street with the east side of Clay providing only half the space of the west side of it. It would be better to utilize some of the interior streets for traffic."
Lightfoot disagreed citing that excess traffic within proposed HC2 would only cause more problems.
This led into the final point of contention -that of narrowing the proposed width of the roads in HC2 from 33 feet to 27 feet.
Cox explained, "Presently the county is incapable of maintaining 33 foot roads during snowplow in the winter."
Plan Commission member Barbara Stepp countered by saying, "When we sat down and drew up the plans for this town, we took into account the fact that we did not want to have to deal with the problems the other towns were having. Our ordinances state that we should have 33 foot wide roads. We should uphold the quality of our town and keep the ordinance at 33 feet."
Plan Commission member/Town Council President responded, "How are we going to maintain 33 foot roads when we had difficulty maintaining the roads this past year. If the width is increased, we will most likely have to raise residential taxes."
In a "last-ditch' effort, Skinner tried "moving to continue" the meeting until that of next month, May 10, but it was voted down 4-3. Skinner was disgruntled at the fact that the members only received the packet of information on the sketch plan approval 10 minutes prior to the start of the meeting and, thus, were not able to make a sound decision on the topic at hand.
Even so, the sketch plan approval to extend HC2 east of Clay Street was approved and set for a preliminary hearing at next month's meeting.