While the weather outside was cold and frightful, the Greensburg City Council was snug inside City Hall burning through a number of items on its agenda.

Even though ordinances were the main course of business, Mayor Frank Manus opened the meeting by passing out a press release regarding negotiations with Decatur County Rural Water.

Manus’ release reads as follows:

“The press release I issued last week did not terminate all negotiations with Rural Water. The City of Greensburg will be conveying an offer to Rural Water tomorrow (Feb. 6, 2007), the first term of which is that we will make sure Rolling Meadows will get water service immediately.”

It continued.

“Further, out of respect for Rural Water, the rest of the offer will not be disclosed until first given to Rural Water as we are still hopeful for a resolution of this matter.”

With that handed out, the Council began its meeting. It tackled a number of ordinances, which included the issues regarding the airport. The Council passed ordinance 2007-3, which rescinded ordinance 1980-1. That ordinance created the Joint Greensburg-Decatur County Airport Commission. Since the city has decided to pursue the airport project on its own, this new ordinance will dissolve that commission, and ordinance 2007-4 will form a

new one. This new Greensburg Aviation Commission will be a panel appointed by the Mayor. While the rescinding ordinance could have passed through three readings Monday, the second one could not, so the Council decided to take it step by step in order to avoid any gaps.

The Council also passed the historical ordinance into effect after its

third reading. This will establish a preservation committee comprised of qualified citizens appointed by the Council to define a historic district for the city of Greensburg. After this success, Bryan Robbins, executive director of Heart of the Tree City, introduced ideas for an Economic Development Target Area, which would likely be focused on downtown Greensburg. The designation would allow for downtown business and building owners to receive more financial assistance and incentives to spur growth.

“We’ve pushed this for the downtown to redevelop and attract new business as well,” Robbins said.

The Council also passed through three readings of two rezoning ordinances. Jeff Whitacre asked that land along Moscow Road be rezoned from R-2 (one and two family dwellings) to R-4 multi-family and a parcel of R-2 to B-3 heavy business. Michael Campion asked for the old Textron Factory property on Raymond Street, south of

Sand Creek, to be rezoned from I-1 industrial to R-2.

The Council also passed the first reading of the Post Storm Water Construction ordinance, which would specify the quality level of water after construction.

While a number were passed, Steve Barth, who is involved with the development of Winchester Park on Park Road, came to challenge one. He stated the development, which is currently in front of the Area Plan Commission, would not be granted a variance allowing for 150-foot radius for curves in the development. The current ordinance

states there must be a 300-foot radius, and he found the variance request to be vital in the design of the sub-division. Without the variance, Barth felt the land would not be used properly and would be subject to a poorer layout for homes and 90-degree intersections. According to Barth, the ordinance is too stringent. The design manual used universally by engineers, he said, allowed up to an 80-foot radius at 20 miles per hour. Other cities allow short distances as well, he noted, and felt Greensburg used to.

“I feel in my heart, there was a sentence left out in the new ordinance. I know the old one allowed it,” Barth said. “If the Plan Commission does not go along with our exception of 150, we would like to come back at the next meeting with an amendment to allow the 150 foot.”

Member Larry Bower, who is the president of the Plan Commission, said he felt the APC was “not inclined” to grant the variance and would prefer to work it out in the Council meeting. However, member Gary Herbert, who is also on the Plan Commission, said he thought the ordinance was changed for safety concerns. Plan director Kathy Reynolds agreed.

“It’s harder now a days for fire trucks to get around sharp curves like a 150-foot radius. I’ve been speaking with two cities and they have gone with 200 foot on less used streets, and 150 on dead end or little used streets,” Reynolds stated.

The Council agreed there would need to be much thought put into any amendment. Member Ken Dornich suggested the traffic committee investigate to see if fire engines, garbage trucks and other vehicles could negotiate these curves before the next meeting.

In addition to the ordinances, there were also abatements. The Council passed a renewal of the abatement for Windmere Apartments for another five years on $4.597 million dollars. They also passed a five-year $4.05 million real estate abatement and a three-year abatement on equipment worth almost $4 million for Prairie Materials as well as a 5-year abatement on $5.448 million for Valeo’s equipment, which promises to bring more jobs to the plant.

“This will bring 41 additional employees, and I think that is a good investment,” Herbert said.

However, one abatement proved problematic. Representatives from a low-income housing development, created by Developmental Services Inc. and scheduled to be constructed by Keller Development on property currently owned by Whitacre, were looking for a 10-year abatement for a grant application due March 16. The grant requires some sort of

endorsement from the city, and Dawn Galloway of DSI said abatements were the best way to do it. The housing would primarily be for those living 30 percent below the city’s median income and provide affordable housing. Some would be for homeless as well as the disabled. While no one was against the housing, the members were unsure if abatement was the way to go.

“This is housing we’re giving the abatement for and we don’t give abatements for housing. We typically give it to developers,” member Helen Gardner, who is also on the abatement committee, said.

The Council felt it needed proof before proceeding. Council president Glenn Tebbe stated Galloway should bring a complete market study, which is already in the works, to the next meeting so they can make a more-informed decision.

“I’m not saying there are not homeless people in Greensburg or that there are not low income people. I’m looking for some demonstration that there is a need for this housing for low income or whatever area of need you wish to fulfill,” Tebbe said. “I feel trapped because I feel like if I say no, I look heartless, but if I say yes, I look a little foolish.”

Galloway promised to return with the detailed information in order for the Council to make its decision.

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