SYRACUSE — After almost an hour of discussion regarding an encroachment agreement between Gordon and Laurie Lord and the town, the Syracuse Town Council chose instead to instruct town attorney Vern Landis to write a letter to the Syracuse Board of Zoning Appeals instructing it to drop its lawsuit against the Lords.
Attorney Steve Snyder, representing the Lords, explained to the council the Lords installed an ornamental fence that encroaches 10 feet into the public right of way. The Lords replaced a chain link fence that had been on the property for years.
While the fence encroaches into the right of way, it does not impede anyone from using the public right of way. Snyder showed the council several examples of a fence being in that location over the years as well as other encroachments into the public right of way at other locations in town with the help of GIS and Google Earth photos.
Councilman Paul Stoelting expressed confusion as to why the BZA went after the Lords in the first place. Gordon Lord told the council a neighbor to the south of his property needed several variances while building his house. He surmised when BZA members came out to inspect the neighbors property, his fence was noticed.
He noted the issue came up in 2010 and he wrote a letter stating the fence was grandfathered. The issue came up again in 2017 only at that time the BZA filed suit. After expressing concerns about setting a precedent, the matter of signing the encroachment agreement, which had already been approved by the Kosciusko County Area Plan Commission and the Syracuse Board of Zoning was tabled.
Councilman Larry Siegel then made the motion to have a letter written asking the lawsuit be dismissed.
Syracuse Police Officer Corey Kenworthy has completed his 40 hours of pre-basic training and is ready for field training. He was sworn in by Clerk-Treasurer Paula Kehr-Wicker.
The council approved resolution 2019-06 which authorizes the clerk-treasurer to make certain transfers to balance and close the 2019 books in proper form.
The council approved resolution 2019-07 to transfer $113,199.25 from the Local Option Income Tax Special Distribution Fund to the Local Road and Bridge Matching Grant Fund for the purpose of committing matching funds for the Community Crossing Grant Program.
Town Manager Mike Noe requested several town appointments be made for 2020 including Vern Landis as town attorney; Jim Layne as police chief; Larry Siegel, Paul Stoetling, Dan VanLue, Henry DeJulia and Corey Mast to the Syracuse Redevelopment Commission; Mike Noe to tree board and Tom Hoover, Larry Martindale and Corky Long to the Turkey Creek Fire Territory.
The council approved signing an agreement with Oakwood regarding street lights in Oakwood Park. The town will pay for the electricity while Oakwood owns the lights.
The council approved paying Brent Plumbing and Heating $525 for repairing a sump pump that burned out at the Hammers during the recent water main break.
The council approved spending $7,246 on radar signs that will be placed on SR 13 south. The funds will come from the town manager’s budget.
Noe noted the town hall lacks handicap accessibility through the west doors and in the restrooms. He requested permission to spend $50,467 to do the renovations. The council approved the expenditure.
The council approved paying the contractor working on the influent at the wastewater treatment plant $18,585 for materials. The vote was 4 in favor with Larry Siegel voting against the motion.
Bids on the Community Crossing Grant are due back to the town by Jan. 23 for work on Medusa Street. Water will be done by Memorial Day and Medusa will have two hydrants when the work is completed.
The council approved spending $195,000 for a new salt and dump truck for the street department. Noe explained funds will be encumbered from this year’s budget and funds from next year’s budget will be used.
The 2020 water and wastewater budgets were approved.
Police Chief Jim Layne told the council he had money remaining in his budget he wanted to use. The council approved spending $10,575 for nine new body armor vests; 12 new Phazzers for $13,581, $6,291 for nine new body cams and $11,608.21 to replace carpet on both sides of the police department. Also approved was $1,000 for painting supplies to paint the department.
Chad Jonsson, park superintendent, requested two members of the park department be approved, and reported the Kiwanis served 515 breakfasts for Breakfast with Santa.
Councilman Bill Musser thanked Jonsson for his work on the dam situation this past year.
Fire Chief Mickey Scott requested permission to spend approximately $70,000 on two new cots for an ambulance. Normally the cots cost approximately $45,000 each, but if he orders them before the end of the year, he can receive a discount. The cots will be $35,000 each.
Kehr-Wicker reported the clerk’s office will be closed Dec. 24-25 in observance of Christmas and will close at noon Dec. 31.
Landis swore in Kehr-Wicker as clerk-treasurer and councilmen Bill Musser, Tom Hoover and Larry Martindale as they start new terms next year.
Martindale, who served as council president in 2019, said it was quite a year. He commended Noe on the job he’s done his first year, noting Noe is going on vacation and leaving people in charge who are now licensed. Other accomplishments he noted included PERF, K21 and Community Crossing Grants.
Paul Stoelting was elected to serve as council president for 2020.