(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a series continuing to look at proposed sewers around Tippecanoe Lakes.)
LEESBURG — Time is winding down on whether or not there will be a sewer conservancy for Tippecanoe Lake. Currently the Kosciusko County Auditor’s Office is in the process of verifying signatures. However, some questions have arisen and now the county attorney is taking a closer look at the state statute.
Michelle Puckett, county auditor, stated she has contacted Chad Miner, county attorney, regarding a number of questions about the petition and signatures after not being able to get a response from an attorney associated with the Tippecanoe Lake Initiative.
What is clear in the statute is a minimum of 300 signatures, or 15 percent of the shareholders, is needed to pass the petition to create a Tippecanoe Lakes Conservancy District. But things have become more complicated with individuals submitting affidavits asking to have their name removed from the petition. “But this is just part of the complications,” Puckett stated. Puckett verified more than 30 affidavits have been received.
The Indiana Code regarding the creation of a conservancy district, IC 14-33, is 122 pages in length. According to Puckett she is unclear of the responsibility of her office with the petitions and if there is a deadline to turn the petitions over to the court.
Miner, after an initial review of the statute, noted there is no deadline established for the petition to be turned over to the courts. Among the questions remaining is the responsibility, if any, of the auditor’s office.
It has been noted by the Friends of Tippy Lake Friday, Dec. 15, was the deadline to get any affidavits for name removal turned in. Puckett stated that date was a date she had set to have signatures verified. But that date has now been put on hold.
“He (Chad Miner) wants time to look at it (the statute). It’s a sensitive hot topic,” she said.
One of the biggest questions is how many votes a freeholder gets if more than one property is owned.
Tom VanMeter, Friends of Tippy Lake, agrees with the auditor based on the number of freeholders in the proposed district, 300 signatures in favor of the petition is needed. He estimates approximately 1,500 freeholders are in that district.
VanMeter noted the initiative claims they have 500 signatures, but some may be duplicated. He also contends only one signature per household is allowed and if a family owns five properties, one signature is allowed for all five properties. This is the one question Miner has been asked to clarify.
While Puckett could not state, at this time, the number of signatures verified, VanMeter is estimating 405 signatures are legitimate and 106 affidavits to have names removed from the original petition is needed to stop the movement. “We can easily get that,” he stated.
In the meantime both sides are continuing their pursuit in providing information to homeowners around Tippecanoe, James and Oswego lakes.