TOPICS: Water Rescue, Homeless Shelter, Ethanol Plant, Lead Hazard, Library Plans, Hydro Electric Dam, Code Enforcement/ Racial Divide, Dog Park Opening
RESOLUTION #20-18 Honoring the Local Water Rescue Team
The local members of the MABAS Division 201 Technical Rescue Team assisted in the N. Carolina Hurricane Florence water rescues. They did 116 Water Rescues for people and rescued 20 dogs.
They were specifically requested by N. Carolina since SB is nationally recognized for water rescue training on the East Race. There were multiple cities represented. Thanks for helping our friends in NC! <3
NEW DOG PARK
Wednesday at 10 am the new Dog Park will open at Rum Village.
Bill #18-55 ZONING 1715 & 1717 S. DALE
This is to build a Duplex on this location - Unanimous
Bill #18-56 ZONING FOR HYDRO ELECTRIC DAM
340 E. Colfax Avenue (Seitz Park)
ND will get 8 - 10% of their power from this Hydro Electric Dam and has a lease with the Parks Department for 50 years. In exchange, ND is providing $1M for improvements to Seitz Park.
The use of Hyrdo Electric Dams was first introduced by then State Senator Doug Hunt in the 1980's.
Bill #18-62 CDBG DISASTER RELIEF II FUNDS
Bill #18-63 LEAD HAZARD GRANT
This is available to help 40 homes in South Bend. There is an income qualification and people may apply through the County Health Department. Around 80% of our area homes were built before 1980 so it is estimated around 45,000 housing units may have lead. There are currently 13 applications.
Bill #18-64 7 YEAR TAX ABATEMENT FOR DAIRY QUEEN on 4836 Western Avenue
Ms. Patel, the Developer, owns multiple businesses in the community. This is not a start-up.
Normally tax abatements are not given for Retail according to Councilman Ferlic, but the Council voted Unanimously for this.
$90,881 Tax Abatement was given.
Bill #18-66 SOUTH BEND ETHANOL, LLC TAX ABATEMENT
3201 W. Calvert Street, 5 year. This will create 5 more jobs for 2 years. They are adding boilers, fermentation tanks and centrifuges.
The representative said the project would have gone through with or without this Abatement.
This falls within an "Opportunity Zone" so after 10 years they won't pay any taxes if they sell it.
Councilman Teshka voted against it and the other 8 Council members voted for this.
Personal Property Tax Abatement = $6,630,052
LOIT FUNDS = $33,800
Real Property = $1,630,720
TOTAL TAX ABATEMENT = $8,294,572
TOTAL TAX ABATEMENTS for just this meeting = $8,385,453
TAX ABATEMENTS in 2017 = $36M and 2016 =$25M Since the Mayor took office it is over $100M with Council voting Unanimously for almost all of them the Mayor requested.
Bills #34-18 and #35-18 CHOCOLATE FACTORY
This annexes the land the Chocolate Factory intends to build their new factory and theme park. This falls within an "Opportunity Zone" so after 10 years they won't pay any taxes if they sell it.
Bill #53-18 WINTER AMNESTY LOCATION FOR HOMELESS
121 E. Tutt Street from November 1, 2018 - April 15, 2019 - Passed Unanimously
This building currently has a homeless encampment behind it. It will house approximately 15 women and 40 men, pending approval by the Fire Marshall. Doors are being updated with release bars and fire alarms. Exit signs and other items are being updated to make it acceptable for approval.
The program will be overseen by the Hope Rescue Mission which is nearby. It will be open for sleeping from 8 pm to 8 am. Entrance passes will be obtained at Hope.
It will have restroom facilities, but no showers. This will be a "wet homeless shelter", which means those staying there will not have to be "dry and sober".
The temporary zoning will be brought back to "Light Industrial" in April after the program closes for the season, otherwise the City will pay Matthews, LLC over $4K a month.
Business owners in that area expressed concern. Edward Levy says his tenant wants out of their lease citing security concerns. He asked that the City provide better security for that area.
The Ziker Business Incubator, where "Sew Loved" is located is in the area, as are some factories such as Mossberg Printing. They hope this will not be a permanent location and want tighter security.
It was suggested that the temporary Homeless locations be rotated through all the Districts to be fairly distributed.
Councilman Davis suggested Mishawaka, the County and Townships share some of the financial burden and work on solutions together. He previously suggested a work program for the Homeless that has worked in other communities and the Mayor was not interested in it.
The Directors of the center for the Homeless and Hope Ministries expressed their frustration in working with the City. They have made suggestions the Mayor has not been willing to utilize.
One of the complaints has been the Homeless deficating in public areas and leaving trash. There had been "joy johns" and trash bins, but those got removed.
SUGGESTIONS: Have bathroom stations like they have in NYC that are permanent, stainless steel with running water located throughout the area. Provide lockers so they do not have to push carts around. Have regular trash pickups that have the Homeless participate in. Places to drop sharps. Provide better security and patrols for businesses.
Bill #54-18 ALLEY VACATION
This will close a 132' alley between Madison, Taylor and Williams. The owner bought both properties and now wants to close the alley to expand the backyard and possibly build a garage. Joseph Weatherly was the Petitioner.
Bill #55-18 - POSTPONED
This pertains to costs of holding events. It will Amend Chapter 14 of the City Code, Article 14. The City Attorney says this has been under discussion for six years.
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY PRESENTATION
SJCPL wants to spend $38M renovating the Main Library to:
* Be an Economic Development Agent
* Community Living Room
* Learning Center
* Creative Commons
* Digital Literacy Provider
* Refuge for a Busy Society
* 114K have a library card
* 423K used the WiFi
* 178K computer hours were used
* 1,700 items were checked out
* 287K electronic items were used
* 3,270 groups used the meeting rooms
* 35% of residents use the Main Library
Ms. Deb Futa, the Library Director, explained they want the renovation to host events that have 500 - 700 people and be a "Destination".
Renovation details can be found on the "About" tab of the Library website, along with a the 35 page report. It will build over the parking lot used by employees, thereby reducing parking availability for those living outside the downtown area and attending events.
The Main Library was last renovated in 1989. $15M bond was used to build or renovate the neighborhood libraries. It will be ending in 2019.
The County approved a $5M Bond issue.
The Community Foundation wants to help raise $10M.
The Library wants $10M from the City. Their Barnes & Thornburg legal Council said they were advised a bond issue could not happen in the near future due to Debt Service concerns and TIF financing was discussed.
At this point in time the River West TIF is "stressed", so it is unclear when and how much the City can provide to assist the Library in this renovation.
The presentation was "informational" for the Council. No Bills were presented for Resolution or Voting.
COMMUNITY RELATIONS MEETING at WUBS on October 9th, 6 - 8 pm
Ongoing Series by the Economic Forum and Councilwoman Regina Williams-Preston on the "Racial Divide" in South Bend
This meeting focused on "Predatory Practices" of Code Enforcement in the African American Community.
The Panel included Ms. Williams-Preston, Attorney Judi Fox from ND Legal Clinic and Ms. Traci Skibbins of Code Enforcement.
Ms. Williams-Preston cited her own experiences with Code Enforcement, Judgements and subsequent Settlements with the City over Code Violations for both her and her husband's properties.
She read a transcript of a recorded phone conversation with the former acting Code Enforcement Director, Randy Wilkerson. Council President Tim Scott asked her to refrain due to slander concerns. Ms. Williams-Preston said she had "cleared it with legal".
She wants the City to go from "revenue generation" with Code Enforcement violations to "acts of service" where the City helps people instead of punishing them.
68% of those living in SB have "Liquid Asset Poverty" and can't seem to generate "generational wealth".
Ms. Skibbins responded they are now putting people in touch with agencies and groups that can help people. She has a list that shows where to get help with roofs, utilities and other needed repairs.
Code Enforcement personnel are attending neighborhood meetings and assisting in neighborhood cleanup days. The Kennedy Neighborhood group has someone with a truck and equipment who volunteers to help those who need assistance staying in compliance.
In February of 2017 new guidelines were drawn up for Civil Penalties which can reach up to $5K. If not paid, Special Assessments can be added to property taxes. This can lead to someone who is unable to pay losing their home/property to a tax sale.
Ms. Williams-Preston says, "Citizens are intimidated by the process", referring to Ordinance Violations, Civil Penalties and Special Assessments.
There is a study on Code Enforcement Violations by race. Ask Councilwoman Williams-Preston if you are interested in seeing the map results.
Ms. Fox and her staff at ND Law Clinic help those who are victims of predatory lending. They said the sub-prime lending and foreclosure tends to be for homes built before 1960, and are valued at less than $100K.
She says we are #18 in the country for evictions. She says we have bad landlord/tenent laws that need to be changed. We also need a law that prohibits those who have abandoned property and code violations from buying more property.
COMMENTS/SUGGESTIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE: (These are SUMMARIZED, not exact quotes)
* So people are not taken by unscrupulous contractors, offer information on how to set up Escrow Accounts.
* Do aggressive Code Enforcement in affluent areas
* Have an Amnesty Program like they do for parking tickets
* Setup a list of those with disabilities or seniors who need assistance with raking, snow removal and repairs
* Do a wider area for roofing program, not just one small block or two
* Have court appointed "Receivers" that can fixup a property and take it to foreclosure
* If there are unfair renting or practices, file with the local Human Rights Commission
* Change laws for those who just buy the 2,400 available tax sale properties must be accountable for the property condition (Many buy the properties online from all over the world just hoping to get the 10% interest that accumulates when the fines are paid.)
Be an active Citizen - VOTE!!!
For more articles and meetings: #MichianaObserver #CivicMedia #MySouthBend
Citizens attending community events to inform other Citizens.