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South Adams property sale debate continued

January 12, 2011

Tim Baker

    Discussion continued at Tuesday's meeting of the South Adams Schools Board regarding plans for selling the former Berne elementary school property.
    Acting Superintendent Scott Litwiller noted that the school corporation has hired the surveyor and appraisers necessary to move forward with the process.
    The surveyor, Brett Miller, said that, as approved at last month's board meeting, the parcel of land has been divided east to west into two parcels resulting in a 2.943-acre parcel on the north side and a 1.872-acre parcel on the south.
    However, it was determined at the meeting that dividing the parcels in that way, or making the division permanent, might not be the most advantageous to potential commercial developers. After learning this, school board members directed Miller to work with the two appraisers and Attorney Tim Baker to decide how to better divide the parcels.
    Baker said that it might be beneficial to wait a little while to see what the interest is and then decide how they should be divided.
    Baker also explained that if the parcels are sold separately, rather than as one tract, there would likely need to be combined use of areas that benefit both parcels including a potential parking lot and green space.
    According to Baker, there will also be some stormwater detention requirements. He said, "The state is putting in stormwater detention designed to address stormwater runoff from the highway, not adjoining properties. So, some sort of detention area on the property would benefit both parcels."
    Also discussed was the variance requirement. Baker explained that the requirement could be the developer's responsibility, but that it should be made "very clear" to the buyer that they will not be able to use that property unless they are successful in getting that variance.    
    School board members decided to pursue vacating the alley near State Route 218 on the former elementary school property. Miller said the alleyway is 20-feet wide. He explained that most standard entrances to a parking lot are 24-feet wide. He noted that a right-turn in or a right-turn out might work for the alley, but that a two-way entrance/exit would not. Vacating this alleyway, said Miller, will alleviate complicating the legal description of the property.
    Miller also explained that an entrance at Water Street off of U.S. 27 would be the only way for vehicles to access the parcel(s) from the highway. He added that he does not think that will cause a traffic problem as the best-case scenario is that the highway will be widened back to Clark Street.
    If the entrance is off of Water Street, it would be a shared entrance to both parcels of land.
    Board president Arlene Amstutz said Indiana Department of Transportation plans indicate that there will be a right-turn lane, a left-turn lane and a center lane for traffic at the intersection of U.S. Hwy 27 and St. Rte. 218.
    Board members also addressed community concerns that the board should "slow down" with regard to the pace at which they are selling the tract of land.    
    Tony Mellencamp said, "Everyone [at Monday's Berne Plan Commission meeting] had a different idea for what could be done with the property. We have to trust the professional judgments. I am making a decision on what I feel is the right thing to do for taxpayers."
    Steve Dobler added, "I don't see any reason to slow down. I think we need to keep going. Waiting is not going to help anything."
  

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