request to rezone approximately 15 acres of residential land to open space
for the purposes of operating a family foundation farm at 1035 Wagner Rd.
was defeated by a small majority of Porter Town Council members on Tuesday.
The vote was as
close as it gets, with three members voting to deny the request -- Erik
Wagner, Brian Finley and Ross LeBleu -- and two members voting in favor,
William Lopez and Council President Greg Stinson.
Finley had seconded
Wagner’s motion to deny saying that he felt the opposition was too prevalent
for him to support Childress’ petition.
that’s against it and not enough people for it, I can’t say yes to it,” sad
Finley who did laud Childress for the “really doing his homework on the
proposed the concept to the Town’s Advisory Plan Commission in July. The
property was formerly a Nike missile base site, decommissioned in the
1970’s. The Childress Family Foundation planned to generate its own power
and natural gas and grow plants by using methods such as hydroponics.
The plans included
raising animals like poultry, rabbits and a limited number of cows, cattle
and goats within a 100-foot buffer.
Childress said he
would allow visitors to the farm to educate them on the self-sustaining
methods he would practice.
Wagner Hills and Dunes Meadows came to Plan Commission meetings to protest
having a farm operation close to them, complaining of odors, noise and
traffic. Only a few neighbors spoke in support.
Stinson on Tuesday
said he knows the quantity of people who gave remonstrances but he still
felt there were benefits to the plan which outweighed the cons.
“I like to think of
what is in the best interest of the town. I prefer to take a broader view,”
he said. “I’m kind of on the opposite end.”
The site had sat
“undeveloped, unused and untouched” for many years, even during the housing
boom, Stinson said, and this would be a use for the land that would not
cause excessive traffic like a major subdivision.
A lot of water
would drain from the property onto neighbors’ if left undeveloped, Stinson
said. He said before Childress, there was no one the Town could talk to
about making improvements since there was no owner.
Lopez said he
concurred with many of Stinson’s arguments, agreeing that the property has
been an eye sore for many years, and felt that the purported objections
about traffic and noise were moot points.
Wagner and LeBleu
made no further statements but at last the meeting Wagner said he
sympathized with the neighbors in that he wouldn’t want to have a farm next
to him either.
Fees and salary
Council did approve a total of three ordinances.
In old business,
second readings were approved to raise the stormwater management user fee
from $4 to $6 per month for each residential unit. The increase will take
effect in January. The increased fees will boost funds for engineering and
drainage remedy projects undertaken by the Stormwater Manager Board.
Also, the Council
approved an ordinance to recognize the fees set by Republic Services for
trash pickup for the next two years. The fees are collected by the Town and
are passed on to Republic Services which sets the rate.
The rate for 2017
will be $14.98 per month and the 2018 monthly rate will be $15.58, the
The Council voted
on first reading and suspended the rules to hold a second reading on the
Town’s employee salary ordinance for 2017. Stinson said he hates having to
suspend the rules on an ordinance but the matter is time sensitive since it
is part of the Town’s overall budget sent to the state.
The ordinance lists
minimum and maximum salaries for full-time employees, hourly rates and
compensation for appointments on Town boards. The employee with the highest
salary is Police Chief Jamie Spanier at $61,295. Council members receive
$4,000 per year. Per meeting Plan Commission members receive $109,
Redevelopment Commission members receive $100, BZA members receive $60 per
meeting and Stormwater Management Board members receive $53.
Longevity pay is
included in the ordinance and full-time employees and elected officials are
entitled to participate in the Town’s employee health insurance plan.
In resolutions, the
Council voted in favor of adopting a Title VI non-discrimination plan.
Stinson said the plan is required in order to receive federal funding. The
plan ensures that no person is excluded from participating in or can be
denied benefits of any program or activity.