Tougher development rules may follow after Chestnut Ridge case


By CONNIE ESHThe Wilson Post 

The State Court of Appeals’ recent decision concerning the Chestnut Ridge development, may lead to tougher rules in the future for development in Lebanon.

Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath told Lebanon City Council during Tuesday night’s regular meeting that she thinks the decision means the city’s regulations regarding drainage are not tough enough.

The State Court of Appeals ruled against the City of Lebanon this past week in a case involving the Chestnut Ridge subdivision. Developers sued the city after the council denied their planned unit development proposal citing concerns with drainage. Developers said they had met all requirements of the city to handle drainage and runoff.

Warmath asked to have City Planner Magi Tilton and Public Works Commissioner Jeff Baines look into how surrounding counties deal with drainage and runoff problems.

Ward 1 Councilor Alex Buhler agreed that the regulations appear to be too lenient. “I don’t trust our Minimum Standards,” he said, pointing out that the city experiences serious trouble with runoff.

He also asked who would be responsible if runoff from Chestnut Ridge damaged property that is down hill from it.

Warmath said she understood that such problems would have to involve lawsuits between the developer and the residents who had the problems.

“We’ll probably get the blame,” Buhler said.

In other business, the council passed on final reading an ordinance to amend the fee in lieu of sidewalks from $10 to $5 per square foot.

The councilors agreed to name a city mechanic temporary Garage Supervisor and freeze the mechanic position, until after budget issues are settled. The city’s hiring freeze has been extended until June 30, by which time the city should have a new budget for 2009-2010 in place.

They also agreed to defer to a special called meeting on April 16 decisions about hiring temporary personnel for sanitation, mowing, the Floyd Center food court and the recreation department.

Also deferred to that meeting were decisions about providing funds to add a lane and curbing on the southwest corner of South Hartmann Drive and West Main Street.

The council also passed a resolution recognizing National Digging Safety Month. The main purpose of the resolution is to point out the dangers involved in digging in areas where there maybe buried utilities, Baines told the council.

Before digging, people need to call 811 and find out what is in the area, he said. “Not only is it safer, it’s the law. You can be fined if you don’t.”

An ordinance which would have prohibited the sale or giving away of cats or dogs in public places was pulled from the agenda. However, Warmath said it will come back with more domestic animals named.

When an ordinance to buy three new computer servers came up, Warmath asked if it was appropriate for city employees to be on “Facebook” while they are at work.After some discussion it was agreed that it wasn’t.

In other action the council authorized the purchase of fireworks for the Fourth of July celebration, approved an agreement to allow the city to accept a Justice Assistance Grant and approved the bid to start work on the Farmers Market project.

Mayor Philip Craighead told the council he had agreed to be “arrested for Muscular Dystrophy” and ask them to help bail him out on April 24.

Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@wilsonpost.com.