Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sebree Council hears questions about apartment project

J-E News Editor
Sebree’s city council meeting on Monday was dominated by talk of a new apartment complex that councilman Mark Moser plans to build a few miles south of the city limits. Council members pointed out numerous times that the council has no control over what the county or councilman Moser does outside the city limits, but the mayor allowed residents to have their say.

“It’s in the county, but as the closest city, it will have an affect on us,” said Debbie Stull, a Sebree resident and candidate for city council. “It’s not fair, if it is in fact refugees who are going to live there. My concern is what are we going to do as a city? What can we do?”
“I don’t think we can do anything,” said councilman Harold Orrick. “We’re 19 years too late for the council to do anything about it. There is no way we can stop Mark from building in the county.”
Several references were made to rumors that the apartments were being built at the request of Tyson Foods, who opponents to the building say have promised to keep the rooms rented. Moser neither confirmed or denied these allegations, but continued to state that the apartments would be available for “anyone who applies and qualifies’.
Other concerns expressed by gathered residents was added waste to the city’s sewer system. The proposed building will be located in the county and will be on county water and sewer, but the sewer from that location will flow through the city’s pipeline on its way to the water treatment plant across the county line in Henderson County.
“Can our water sewer system handle this?” asked Jana Forker, another Sebree resident and candidate for city council.
“It will handle it,” responded Emry Thomas, Sebree Director of Public Works.
Councilman Kenny Wright added that the Henderson and Webster County Water Districts would be responsible for any costs associated with the increased usage.
In the end the gathered crowd were told that they should direct their questions and complaints to the Economic Development Council (EDC) and the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), the two bodies that voted to approve sale of the property to Moser.
Forker said that she had contacted Judge Executive Jim Townsend about getting a meeting with the groups, who had referred her to board member Steve Whitsell. She said she had contacted Whitsell, but had still not heard back about a meeting time and date.
“Mark, you are on the EDC, can you help us get a meeting?” Forker asked.
“Steve Whitsell must call the meeting,” Moser said.
“He said he had to call the members. Have you been called?”
“No,” said Moser.
Mayor Ozzie O’Nan said that he would like to speak with the EDC and IDA as well, and he would call Tuesday morning to see if he could help get something scheduled.
Council members approved the purchase of a new pickup to be used by Emry Thomas. 
“This is to replace the 1997 model that Emry currently drives,” said O’Nan. “I’m surprised its kept going as long as it has, but we’ve got guys working for us who can do about anything. If not for them we’d have been having this conversation a long time ago.”
Two bids were turned in on the truck, one from Uebelhor and Sons in Jasper, IN for $28,988 and another from Bachman Auto Group in Louisville for $39,289. The bid was awarded to Uebelhor and Sons for being the lowest bidder. 
The city will finance through Independence Bank, who offered the lowest interest rates (2.6%).
Also up for discussion was a piece of property on Spring Street in Sebree.  Reportedly Sebree resident Margaret Wiggins purchased the property and removed a mobile home that had been at the location, only to find that the trailers sewer had been emptying onto the ground ‘for years’. Since that time another resident has come forward with a second deed to the property and sued Wiggins.
“I’ve not seen many double titles during my time as a lawyer,” said city attorney Dorin Luck. “I need to speak with the lawyers involved in this case. The city can’t do anything about it right now because we don’t know who owns it.”
Until the matter can be decided in court, it seems doubtful that the city can do anything about what has become both an eyesore and a health hazard.

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