Local Food – Innovations

IU Center for Rural Engagement

IU Community Food Systems – Includes BC Fact Sheet

Sustaining Hoosier Communities (SHC) – Request for Proposals
shc-request-for-proposals

Jan 30, 2020. Regional Conference.

  • Join us for this regional event with an incredible line-up of speakers and strategy sessions to help build a thriving regional food system in South-Central Indiana!
  •  Strategy sessions include:
    • Business and economic development in the food system
    • Shared-use kitchens and meat processing infrastructure for farm and food businesses
    • Indiana Grown for Schools
    • Value chain coordination and creating networks of connectivity
    • Community and nonprofit innovations for markets and food councils
    • Agritourism for the Indiana Uplands

IndyStar:  Indiana farmer to be featured on new season of ‘Returning the Favor’ with Mike Rowe

RTV6 – School bus retrofitted into mobile food pantry  A new mobile food pantry in Indianapolis will bring food to those who need it most.

IndyStar:  Why some farmers are banking on you buying more expensive food

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bean Blossom Sewer Project – Key Points

Updated Dec 19, 2019

Summary of Key Points:  Supporting details for these points are provided in the following post:  Regional Sewer Board – Bean Blossom Sewer Project – For the Record

Transfer of Parkland for a Sewer Plant  –  Request for Special Exception  

Dec 19, 2019. BCD. Vote taken on Bean Blossom sewer plant land By Sara Clifford. A sewer plant to serve Bean Blossom is now allowed to go on land at the base of Bean Blossom hill off State Road 135 North.

Parks and Rec still have to hold a public meeting and vote on a transfer. If this parcel was developed as parkland (biking, hiking, picnicking, etc.), the sewer plant takes up some prime space. Other options for sewer service include Bean Blossom and maybe Helmsburg (depending on study results).  But when the project manager and board member (Clint Studabaker) is already talking about the view from his office, on the number of employees needed and the BCRSD with the commissioner and council support has spent $200K on plans without acquiring land, the pressure is for “New.”

Dec 10, 2019. Email sent to Parks and Rec Board. 20191210 – Email Parks and Rec – Land Transfer requesting that any decision on a transfer and rezoning of land donated and deeded to Parks and Rec bepostponed until two ongoing studies have been completed.

Nov 26, 2019. Facebook Post on the topic asking the question: Should land deeded to Parks and Rec be used for a sewer plant if other land is available? 

TimelineParkland for Sewers.   Recent events  regarding the acquisition of land donated to Parks and Recreation:

Example Public Input Meeting – Park Master Plan – Johnson County 

    • July 30 — present?  A commissioner, a councilman and others (?) started putting pressure on some Parks and Rec board members regarding their decision to rescind their vote. 
  • Nov 5, 2019. The Brown County Regional Sewer District Board (BCRSD) had an executive session (closed meeting) with the Park and Rec Board to talk about land acquisition.  
  • Nov 12, 2019. BCRSD Board Meeting –  I asked for an update regarding current actions to acquire land from either a private owner or land deeded to Parks and Rec.  The board was vague on the response and did not rule out looking for private land.
    • Note: Land is available in Helmsburg for a new plant.
  • Nov 18, 2019. The BCRSD Board sent a follow-up letter to the Parks and Rec Board that identified their intent to acquire land deeded to Parks and Rec.
    • BCRSD Letter  to the Parks and Rec Board
    • Nov 20, 2019.  Parks and Rec Board Meeting.  The discussion on the topic of a land transfer was not identified on the meeting agenda.  The BCRSD Board members attended the meeting, requested and received a signed agreement that Parks and Rec might consider a transfer.
  • Nov 21, 2019. An executive session (closed meeting) has been scheduled between the BCRSD Board and the Parks and Rec Board.
  • Dec 3, 2019. BCD, Town OKs major study of sewer service By Sara Clifford
    • Includes considering providing service to Bean Blossom.
  • Future Meetings
    • Dec 10, 2019. BCRSD Board Meeting. (second Tuesday of the month).
    • Dec 12, 2019. BCRSD and Parks and Rec Board – “executive session”  to discuss “land acquisition”.
    • DEC 18, 2019.  BZA (special exception) Meeting – Agenda item for a special exception for a transfer – APPROVED.
      • My statement requesting a delay on the decision for a “Special Exception” 20191218 Special Exception Parkland – AAR
        • Three members of the BCRSD Board made a presentation on the alleged need and history of the project, two Park and Rec Board members spoke in support, Jerry Pittman representing the commissioners spoke in support.
      • Dec 18, 2019 – Parks and Rec Meeting – No quorum
      • Jan 31, 2019 — Regionalization Study  To be Complete -will help determine the best options and locations for a plant – Helmsburg, Bean Blossom, Other …

Summary of Key Points

A needed regionalization study was initiated in “August of 2019” (better late than never) – to help identify the best solutions for the region (area). It is due to be completed by mid to late January.  Responsible governmental oversight and due diligence should mandate that no further action be taken on the Bean Blossom project until this report has been completed, presented, studied, and reviewed by all of the pertinent parties involved to include Sewer boards, County Council and relevant property owners.

The land being considered for a wastewater plant was donated to Parks and Recreation – NOT the county where elected representatives can decide on best use.  Although perhaps legal, is the transfer honorable?  Does it violate the intent of the donation?  Would this decision send a clear message for individuals and groups to never donate land to the government?

The desire by the Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) board to acquire land at deeded to Parks and Recreation and conveying a false sense of urgency, appears to be an act of desperation. It may also be a face-saving measure for council members and commissioners that have supported the funding for this project without understanding the extent and scope of the problem.

  • Should John Kennard, a Health Department employee and member of the Parks and Rec Board, recuse himself from any vote on a transfer due to a conflict of interest? As a county employee, he was involved in establishing an RSD in Bean Blossom. He also made allegation at the Nov 20 meeting regarding the conditions of the Nashville Plant.
  • Mike Leggins, President of the BCRSD board misrepresented the intent of the Helmsburg RSD Board regarding a new or expanded plant.  Helmsburg’s application for the regionalization study grant identifies their interest regarding expansion.

Motivation.  The long-term motivation for sewer service in Bean Blossom has been supported by individuals with property in the area that can be developed and business interests. Business interests include the trailer park and Bill Monroe Music Park and Campground.  Commissioner Biddle who lives in the area to be served, also mentioned in a public meeting that her residential septic system was inadequate. The current Board President (2018/2019) has also acknowledged his business interest in obtaining sewer service for the area.  The current president of the current Redevelopment Commissions (RDC) has also expressed public support for this project and commercial development in the area.  The prior RDC Commission identified Helmsburg as a viable option.

Project – Re-start. The BCRSD – Bean Blossom Sewer Project was announced at a public meeting in “June 2018” at which time they announced they were submitting a preliminary Engineering Report (PER) to the state.  Early estimates were that the project would be approved within a year.  Their failure to acquire land due to lack of support by one or more property owners has resulted in delays.

Budget.  BCRSD received $270,000 from the county council in the fall of 2018 to help cover the cost of engineering reports and other project-related expenses. To my knowledge, AT NO TIME during the first year of the project did the BCRSD board identify to the Council in a public meeting that they were having trouble acquiring land.  The current budget balance as of Nov 8, 2019 is approximately $84,356.60.

  • Incurring a significant expense ($186, 643) by the BCRSD without first acquiring land should be of concern to county citizens.  The performance of the current BCRSD board should also be reviewed.

Monthly Costs of Service.  Due to the concern of Helmsburg RSD (HRSD) customers on their high monthly rate of  ($92.50) of service and the request by potential customers in the Lake Lemon area for sewer service from Helmsburg, the State-funded a grant to develop a regionalizations study.  The application for the study that included HRSD and BCRSD specific requirements, is intended to help identify the best wastewater treatment options for the region (area). This study is estimated to be completed by mid to late January of 2020.

  • Population density – the less population and customers, the higher the costs. On monthy fees, Helmsburg is at the high end ($92.50) and Gnaw Bone on the lower end – approximately $50.00.  The Forest Hills Apartment complex in Gnaw Bone added more customers and helped keep the costs down.  In Bean Blossom, what is the projected maintenance costs over time and what is the expected growth in the customer base?  What is the projection for the monthly charge for service?

History on Options Considered. Under the previous BCRSD Board President – Judy Swift Powdrill (2017/2018), the Board voted to continue negotiations with Nashville to obtain service. Nashville rescinded the offer. The BCRSD Board decision in 2017 -when  Evan Werling was President, was to reject the Nashville option due to the higher costs and annexation related requirements.  This BCRSD Board along with the support of the 2017 Redevelopment Commission (RDC) identified that expanding the Helmsburg plant may be the most cost-effective option. The current BCRSD Board requested service from Nashville and per the Town Council President, Nashville has not said no to the request.

    • The HRSD board identified the requirement that additional debt would not be passed on to current Helmsburg customers. This was the same requirement specified by the Gnaw Bone RSD when an expansion was required and approved to support the Forest Hills Apartment complex.  The developer assumed the additional costs of the expansion.

Existing Plans for Development. Helmsburg developed a county approved Economic Development Area (EDA and an Economic Plan.  Bean Blossom has neither.

Proven Need. Final approval of the Bean Blossom project by state and federal officials will require that the BCRSD validate a need. The past two BCRSD Board Presidents both stated publicly that there is no documented evidence of failed systems in the area . They both recommended validation of a need before proceeding with the project.  The current board appeares to be making a case based on the age of systems in the area to be served and inadequate records.

Eminent Domain. As was communicated to the Park and Rec Board, the BCRSD can evoke eminent domain to acquire land for a public good.  If an eminent domain action was challenged by a private property owner in court, the BCRSD may have to prove that there is a need. This may be difficult to establish to the satisfaction of the court.

Estimated useful Life. Speculation by the current BCRSD of a need is based on the estimated useful life of systems as an average of 25 years. This average can identify a range from 1 – 49 years.  At the Brown County Septic Summit in September, it was identified that the life of a system was “indefinite.”  Indefinite defined as: “not definite, unclear; vague, lacking precise limits.”

    • The are many variables that factor into an estimate of useful life. These include type, design, age, water usage, maintenance, and soil types to name a few. Note that the “indefinite” conclusion is supported by the EPA and Presby systems.
    • The Cordy Sweetwater Conservancy has the highest density of homes in the county that is served by septic systems.  Routine and recurring tests of water quality of the lakes identify no serious problems with water quality.

Water Quality.  County public officials have made allegations that failed systems are contributing to E-Coli in the creeks and streams. This is not proven.  The  State Department of Health identified that there are no approved processes at this time for sampling water and determining if there are human contaminants.  Any statement made contrary to this truth is “Fake News.”

“IF” it is determined that water from lakes and streams is being polluted by human contaminates, then additional research and analysis will be needed to determine the origin, extent, and scope of the problem.

More information:

Aug 27, 2019. Brown County Democrat. Guest Opinion: Septics and Sewers – major changes proposed By Tim J. Clark

Jan 22, 2019. Brown County Democrat. GUEST OPINION: Sewers and septic systems: What’s the problem? by Tim Clark

Jan 7. 2019.  FAQ Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) Board  – Response in January 2019 to questions that were asked at the June 2018 BCRSD Meeting.

Part 3 – Discord in the community – better strategies needed?

Part 3:  Discord in the community – better strategies needed?
By Tim J. Clark
Updated Nov 5, 2019

Background: An ongoing assessment of the issues with the Bloomington Farmers’ Market.

Last year for the Bloomington Farmers’ Market? 

Saturday’s (Nov 2, 2019) “circus” at the Market sponsored by the “Purple Shirt Brigade” with support from No Space for Hate and witnessed by the city’s attorney was interesting.

The situation with the market does raise a question:  Are the policies and actions regarding protests creating and supporting the conditions that will lead to a  justification to permanently close the market?   The protestors are currently targeting a specific vendor – Schooner Creek Farm, and the city claims that given the constraints of the First Amendment, they are powerless to stop it.

Regarding the protestors allegations that the vendor is a white supremacist, Laura Lane of the Herald-Times in her August 3, 2019 Commentary: Don’t forget the First Amendment, stated the following:

  • The Herald-Times has published multiple articles on the farmers’ market developments. We have done our own research. We have reviewed court documents, emails, videos and recordings that so many claim is proof that the owners of Schooner Creek Farm are white supremacists. Direct evidence, it isn’t there.
  • When a news organization publishes a false statement that damages a person’s reputation, that’s libel. I make sure, just about every day, to not libel anyone. Not just because I could be sued, but because it’s important that the information we report be accurate. We cannot and do not print accusations that can’t backed up with tangible stand-up-in-court proof.

The city’s current policies on protests and lack of enforcement of  “rules” introduces a significant change.   In effect, the Market can now be “A” space for protests and future counter-protests that could include topics on a variety of social, cultural, or political issues.

The scope of the new protests could include identifying vendors that may have any personal views, associations, or positions that others may find objectionable.

Given the privately managed Bloomington Winter Farmers’ Market and the 2020 elections,  there is plenty of time over the next few weeks and months for groups to start their research and strategize.  For example, advocates of the Second  Amendment through demonstration of concealed carry would help demonstrate gun safety and promote local and national candidates in 2020 that support the Second Amendment.

Vendors may need to develop a Plan B in case protests lead to shutdowns of the markets and/or protests continue to discourage attendance and sales.  Alternative private markets may not be immune from boycotts. How will any private market stop protestors?  What will be their rules and enforcement mechanisms? Will more security and police be needed?  What effect will protests have on attendance and sales at these private markets?

It is also interesting that the protests are leading to employment opportunities for the organizers such as Abby Ang, who want to be compensated for their activism.

Additional Information:

 

Sewer Board Trustee Qualifications

Under 13-26-4-6 Residency (b) states that “An Appointed trustee must:

  1. own real property within the district,
  2. be a trustee appointed under section 4 or 5 of this chapter,
  3. be an elected official……..
  4. be a ratepayer of the district; or
  5. ….be an individual who is registered to vote at an address that is located in the district.

Sewer Board Trustee Qualifications. IC 13-26-4-6

The second part of this report pertains to monthly billing, which must be paid by the end users– not by any other county residents.

The Rate Payers (by law) must pay sufficient monies to cover all of the listed expenses, reserves, bond redemption funds, etc.

Defining the problem – white privilege

Social issues that are discussed at the national level influence the culture and adds to the polarization at the local level as voters support their respective political brands.

Allegations of white supremacy created a controversy with the Nashville Farmers Market and continue to escalate issues with the current operations of the Bloomington Farmers’ Market.

The intent of this post is to reinforce the importance of applying an evidence-based method to define a problem. Terms such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and white privilege are often used as accusations and are ill-defined.

The following articles provide an example of defining a term – white privilege in this case, and using empirical evidence to conclude that one variable does not account for differences in group outcomes.

Why White Privilege Is Wrong—Part 1 – Quillette

Rarely does a single explanatory variable account for a complex phenomenon. Instead,
complex outcomes are best explained by a confluence of factors. In the case of white
privilege, there are a number of variables which, together, better explain differences in group outcomes. Moreover, there is a bevy of countervailing evidence that calls its validity into question.

When it comes to differences in group outcomes, the far-le and far-right conflate perception with reality. For neo-Nazis and alt-righters, their supposed superiority lies in their genetics. For those on the far-left, the unjust supremacy of whites is based on systemic discrimination. Both are sorely mistaken.

Why White Privilege is Wrong—Part 2 – Quillette

Many people enjoy invoking race as an explanation for all sorts of things. It is a shared pastime for both the far-left and the far-right. The media expend vast sums of money and effort to ensure we don’t escape discussions about race as something that is or should be important. This vocal minority of political extremists and news broadcasters has directed our attention away from more powerful causal explanations that underlie group outcomes. Perverse incentives for these two groups have made race a more a prominent feature of our lives.

More information  Local Farmers Markets – history and timeline of the issues.

Brown County – Annexation

The town of Nashville had/has a policy that linked annexation with sewer service.

The Brown County Regional Sewer District (RSD) has expressed an intent to forcibly connect as many properties as possible to a sewer system in the county. This could be more easily accomplished if BCRSD could consolidate the different RSDs. RSDs existing in Helmsburg and Gnaw Bone. The Town of Nashville also has a treatment plant as has been ceded some extra territory by the BCRSD.

Notes — Annexation, Remonstrance …

Basic issues:

It is a legislative process. A Town Board has to approve the annexation ordinance.   There is a contiguity requirement—defines what areas a Town can annex.  This is a certain segment of the boundary of the proposed annexation area must be contiguous with existing town limits.  Town must adopt a fiscal plan that analyzes government services and how they will be provided in the annexed area.

Need to clearly identify the area proposed for annexation.  There are rules that apply based on the area—size, state of development, location vis a vis the town.

This is the primary statute on the details  required to support annexation:

Sec. 13. (a) Except as provided in subsection (e), at the hearing under section 12 of this chapter, the court shall order a proposed annexation to take place if the following requirements are met:

(1) The requirements of either subsection (b) or (c).

(2) The requirements of subsection (d).

(3) The requirements of subsection (i).

(b) The requirements of this subsection are met if the evidence establishes the following:

(1) That the territory sought to be annexed is contiguous to the municipality.

(2) One (1) of the following:

(A) The resident population density of the territory sought to be annexed is at least three (3) persons per acre.

(B) Sixty percent (60%) of the territory is subdivided.

(C) The territory is zoned for commercial, business, or industrial uses.

(c) The requirements of this subsection are met if the evidence establishes one (1) of the following:

(1) That the territory sought to be annexed is:

(A) contiguous to the municipality as required by section 1.5 of this chapter, except that at least one-fourth ( ¼ ), instead of one-eighth ( ⅛ ), of the aggregate external boundaries of the territory sought to be annexed must coincide with the boundaries of the municipality; and

(B) needed and can be used by the municipality for its development in the reasonably near future.

(2) This subdivision applies only to an annexation for which an annexation ordinance is adopted after December 31, 2016. That the territory sought to be annexed involves an economic development project and the requirements of section 11.4 of this chapter are met.

(d) The requirements of this subsection are met if the evidence establishes that the municipality has developed and adopted a written fiscal plan and has established a definite policy, by resolution of the legislative body as set forth in section 3.1 of this chapter. The fiscal plan must show the following:

(1) The cost estimates of planned services to be furnished to the territory to be annexed. The plan must present itemized estimated costs for each municipal department or agency.

(2) The method or methods of financing the planned services. The plan must explain how specific and detailed expenses will be funded and must indicate the taxes, grants, and other funding to be used.

(3) The plan for the organization and extension of services. The plan must detail the specific services that will be provided and the dates the services will begin.

(4) That planned services of a noncapital nature, including police protection, fire protection, street and road maintenance, and other noncapital services normally provided within the corporate boundaries, will be provided to the annexed territory within one (1) year after the effective date of annexation and that they will be provided in a manner equivalent in standard and scope to those noncapital services provided to areas within the corporate boundaries regardless of similar topography, patterns of land use, and population density.

(5) That services of a capital improvement nature, including street construction, street lighting, sewer facilities, water facilities, and stormwater drainage facilities, will be provided to the annexed territory within three (3) years after the effective date of the annexation in the same manner as those services are provided to areas within the corporate boundaries, regardless of similar topography, patterns of land use, and population density, and in a manner consistent with federal, state, and local laws, procedures, and planning criteria.

(6) This subdivision applies to a fiscal plan prepared after June 30, 2015. The estimated effect of the proposed annexation on taxpayers in each of the political subdivisions to which the proposed annexation applies, including the expected tax rates, tax levies, expenditure levels, service levels, and annual debt service payments in those political subdivisions for four (4) years after the effective date of the annexation.

(7) This subdivision applies to a fiscal plan prepared after June 30, 2015. The estimated effect the proposed annexation will have on municipal finances, specifically how municipal tax revenues will be affected by the annexation for four (4) years after the effective date of the annexation.

Political subdivisions in the county that are not part of the annexation and on taxpayers located in those political subdivisions for four (4) years after the effective date of the annexation.

(9) This subdivision applies to a fiscal plan prepared after June 30, 2015. A list of all parcels of property in the annexation territory and the following information regarding each parcel:

(A) The name of the owner of the parcel.

(B) The parcel identification number.

(C) The most recent assessed value of the parcel.

(D) The existence of a known waiver of the right to remonstrate on the parcel. This clause applies only to a fiscal plan prepared after June 30, 2016.

(e) At the hearing under section 12 of this chapter, the court shall do the following:

(1) Consider evidence on the conditions listed in subdivision (2).

(2) Order a proposed annexation not to take place if the court finds that all of the following conditions that are applicable to the annexation exist in the territory proposed to be annexed:

(A) This clause applies only to an annexation for which an annexation ordinance was adopted before July 1, 2015. The following services are adequately furnished by a provider other than the municipality seeking the annexation:

(i) Police and fire protection.

(ii) Street and road maintenance.

(B) The annexation will have a significant financial impact on the residents or owners of land. The court may not consider:

(i) the personal finances; or

  1. ii) the business finances;

of a resident or owner of land. The personal and business financial records of the residents or owners of land, including state, federal, and local income tax returns, may not be subject to a subpoena or discovery proceedings.

(C) The annexation is not in the best interests of the owners of land in the territory proposed to be annexed as set forth in subsection (f).

(D) This clause applies only to an annexation for which an annexation ordinance is adopted before July 1, 2015. One (1) of the following opposes the annexation:

(i) At least sixty-five percent (65%) of the owners of land in the territory proposed to be annexed.

(ii) The owners of more than seventy-five percent (75%) in assessed valuation of the land in the territory proposed to be annexed.

Evidence of opposition may be expressed by any owner of land in the territory proposed to be annexed.

(E) This clause applies only to an annexation for which an annexation ordinance is adopted after June 30, 2015. One (1) of the following opposes the annexation:

(i) At least fifty-one percent (51%) of the owners of land in the territory proposed to be annexed.

The remonstrance petitions filed with the court under section 11 of this chapter are evidence of the number of owners of land that oppose the annexation, minus any written revocations of remonstrances that are filed with the court under section 11 of this chapter.

(F) This clause applies only to an annexation for which an annexation ordinance is adopted before July 1, 2015. This clause applies only to an annexation in which eighty percent (80%) of the boundary of the territory proposed to be annexed is contiguous to the municipality and the territory consists of not more than one hundred (100) parcels. At least seventy-five percent (75%) of the owners of land in the territory proposed to be annexed oppose the annexation as determined under section 11(b) of this chapter.

(f) The municipality under subsection (e)(2)(C) bears the burden of proving that the annexation is in the best interests of the owners of land in the territory proposed to be annexed. In determining this issue, the court may consider whether the municipality has extended sewer or water services to the entire territory to be annexed:

(1) within the three (3) years preceding the date of the introduction of the annexation ordinance; or

(2) under a contract in lieu of annexation entered into under IC 36-4-3-21.

The court may not consider the provision of water services as a result of an order by the Indiana utility regulatory commission to constitute the provision of water services to the territory to be annexed.

(g) The most recent:

(1) federal decennial census;

(2) federal special census;

(3) special tabulation; or

(4) corrected population count;

shall be used as evidence of resident population density for purposes of subsection (b)(2)(A), but this evidence may be rebutted by other evidence of population density.

(h) A municipality that prepares a fiscal plan after June 30, 2015, must comply with this subsection. A municipality may not amend the fiscal plan after the date that a remonstrance is filed with the court under section 11 of this chapter, unless amendment of the fiscal plan is consented to by at least sixty-five percent (65%) of the persons who signed the remonstrance petition.

(i) The municipality must submit proof that the municipality has complied with:

(A) the outreach program requirements and notice requirements of section 1.7 of this chapter; and

(B) the requirements of section 11.1 of this chapter.

Here is a separate section on the requirements for a remonstrance petition.

The statute that has all of these rules (and much more about court appeals, etc) is Ind Code 36-4-3