Yard sale signs staked to a telephone pole and blowing in the breeze could become a thing of the past if the City Council puts its regulations in place. The ordinance is to stop those who hold year-round sales on their lawns and regulate the residential tradition.

Short two members, Helen Gardner and Ken Dornich, the Greensburg City Council considered a number of subjects and took hesitant steps on measures that required extensive discussions.

One of those subjects was the Fall Festival committee’s request for a beer garden. Steven Teverbaugh, committee member, approached the Council with the request, which was not on the Council’s agenda.

“Get your guns out,” Mayor Frank Manus said jokingly as Teverbaugh approached the podium.

Manus’ joke was in reference to last year’s heated debate over the garden, which received approval from the Decatur County Commissioners and then was denied in September, weeks before the event, when church groups and concerned citizens protested the idea. Teverbaugh said the committee had learned its lesson last year and felt the garden had support behind it.

“As you know, last year we attempted to have this and it turned out we were not able to. Since then, I’ve had overwhelming support. The people of Decatur County want to be able to have beer at the Fall Festival,” Teverbaugh said.

He noted the committee wants to locate the garden, which would be an enclosed structure with one entrance and exit, and security, on Broadway Street in the city’s jurisdiction. In addition, they have spoken with the city’s attorney, Steve Taylor, about taking extra insurance to alleviate the city’s burden of responsibility. With the insurance, Taylor said, the liability would be lessened, not lifted.

“There is no way to absolve the city of all liability. We have the understanding that the Fall Festival committee will take on the bulk of the responsibility,” Taylor said.

Member Glenn Tebbe said he was curious as to why the committee would attempt this idea again considering the loud opposition it received in 2006, but Teverbaugh saw it as a progressive idea as well as a money maker.

“I’d like the Fall Festival to grow. I want to bring in bigger bands, more bands, a different variety. That takes money,” Teverbaugh said. “A beer garden makes money.”

He added people may have had a misconception of what the garden would be.

“I think a lot of people had misnomers as to what a beer garden is. Chili’s has a beer garden in the middle of its restaurant. It’s a family restaurant that serves beer. We’ll be setting up a restaurant where we’ll be serving beer,” Teverbaugh said.

He said the Knights of Columbus would be running the garden and a bouncer would be present to sell tickets to attendees 21 and over.

The Council members present seemed in favor of a trial run. Member Larry Bower said he felt it couldn’t hurt.

“I don’t see the harm in trying it once. If we find there’s an inherent flaw in the idea, then we don’t have to do it again,” Bower stated.

Tebbe, as well as member Gary Herbert, seemed in agreement. However, they were not willing to make a motion until the public could have its say.

“I don’t want people to think we snuck something in on them,” Herbert stated.

The members agreed to table the request until August when they will have a full Council and the public has prior knowledge to voice their support, concerns and disapproval.

Another impromptu discussion came from John Land, representative of the American Legion, who updated the Council on how the club was doing in the wake of the smoking ban. He said the ban has hurt and the club only has $700 in its bank account. Land added he feared the American Legion was on the verge of closing its doors.

Bower noted last month he gave the Council some things to consider as far as a revision to the ordinance. Clubs could seek an exemption from the ordinance if they could meet the four criteria: Be truly defined as a private club; restrict access to members only 21 and over and perhaps a guest or two; disallow access to the public through rental of their halls or other functions; and post smoking allowed signs at the entrances. The criteria was purely for discussion only and since the Council was down two members, Bower felt it should be discussed at the August meeting.

Land, however, was not in favor of Bower’s suggestions.

“The American Legion, the Eagles and others feel that this is about our rights and taking them away. Now you want to tell us who we can or can’t bring in to our clubs, and who we can rent our club to. That’s taking away even more of our rights,” Land said.

The Council also passed the first reading of an ordinance establishing regulations for garage and yard sales. Sponsored by Gardner to offset a few people who tend to have year-round garage sales, the ordinance would require city residents to obtain a free permit for a sale in a residential neighborhood. Failure to do so, or to lose the permit or not have it properly displayed, could result in a $25 fine, according to the ordinance. Residents would be limited to two, three-day sales per year and only have one sign on their property for the sale.

The ordinance is designed to dissuade those who hold year-round sales on their lawn from doing so. Herbert said they should already be in violation of commercial ordinances if they are operating a year-round business in a residential neighborhood. Taylor noted that was true, but said this new measure would give the police ammunition to stop the dissenters.

“It makes it easier for the police to enforce it if this is on record,” Taylor said.

The Council passed the first reading and felt they could have a lengthier discussion in August.

“We’re making a law for three people in Greensburg,” Herbert said.

The Council also made a decision on what name would be on the new water tower being constructed next to Honda. The Council chose to go with simply “Greensburg” because anything else would cost more.

In other business, the Council passed the first readings of the salary increases for city employees, both regular and elected. They also passed an ordinance on three readings pledging their support of the airport project, a requirement of the FAA to keep funds available. They also passed the second reading on an ordinance to vacate streets at the junior high for the upcoming renovation project. They also passed the first reading of an ordinance to establish a timeline for developers to submit plans for approval before the Area Plan Commission.

Finally, they approved 11 abatement renewals for Valeo and seven for GECOM, despite a fall in employees. The Council pledged to delve into the numbers deeper when the abatements came up for renewal next year.

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