Oak Creek OKs annexation process

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Residential Service: $41, $45.10

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- Both new rates are effective Jan. 1

— The Oak Creek Town Board agreed to start the annexation process on a nearly 2-acre parcel as it approved a conceptual review for the Allegheny Gypsum project Thursday night.

The plan for the land, owned by investors in Pennsylvania, is to build two triplexes on the lot. The acreage is at the top of Grandview Avenue.

Erik Steinberg, the local representative for the project, told the Town Board that the project was slowed by the economic downturn but that because the project is small and designed to be attainable housing, it would still be viable.

"We need to bring some new energy and new housing, we're trying to bring young families in here : there is a market for that," he said.

After questioning from Mayor J. Elliott, Steinberg said he defined attainable housing as something that a couple could afford by setting aside 20 to 25 percent of their monthly income for housing.

He said he did not want to place deed restrictions on the properties because of the inflexibility it creates for young families, who Steinberg said would be the ideal occupants.

Steinberg said he was reluctant to estimate how much the two-story units will cost, but he said the ideal cost would be $179,000 for each of the two-bedroom, two-bathroom units.

The next step in the process is for the town attorney to draft a resolution to accept the conceptual plan and for the Allegheny Gypsum representatives to meet with the Planning Commission to work out the details of the annexation.

Town Clerk Karen Halterman said she does not expect anything regarding the project to be on the agenda for the November meeting, but she said she would contact the town attorney to start the process.

Contracts approved

The Town Board also unanimously approved a $14,946 contract with Nolte Associates to perform a Housing and Urban Development Environmental Standards Checklist as part of a grant requirement in relation to the town's water tank.

The town also unanimously agreed to accept a memorandum of understanding with the Oak Creek Hockey Association to continue sharing responsibilities for the Oak Creek Ice Rink and warming hut on Kodiak Lane.

Resignation

Dave Fisher resigned unexpectedly from the Oak Creek Town Board in an e-mail he sent to the town clerk hours before the Town Board meeting Thursday.

Fisher offered little explanation, writing only that, "due to changing circumstances I am no longer able to execute the duties of Trustee as is required."

Fisher noted that he had served as a trustee for the past 3 1/2 years and said his resignation was effective immediately. Time stamps on the e-mail show that it was sent at 3:30 p.m. The board took no action.

Another town board member, Dave Ege, resigned in September for personal reasons. Ege was replaced by Nikki Knoebel. Two other Oak Creek residents applied to fill Ege's seat, but Halterman said they would have to re-advertise in order to fill Fisher's position.

The replacements will serve until the April election, when voters will choose trustees for each seat.

Fee increases

The board also voted 3-2 to increase the water fees for the town by 10 percent, raising the monthly residential cost from $41 to $45.10. Trustees Chuck Wisecup and Nikki Knoebel voted against the increase. Elliott and Trustees Josh Voorhis and Wendy Gustafson voted for it.

Wisecup said he would prefer the town look through the budget again to find other savings, but Elliott said he had already gone through the budget and there was nowhere else to trim.

"I, for one, have got to vote for it," Elliott said. "I don't see any alternative. I think it would be remiss for us to underfund the department."

Trustees unanimously agreed to increase trash rates by 50 cents a month but chose to table the motion to raise sewer rates 10 percent. Wisecup suggested that the board raise the sewer rates incrementally, adding 5 percent on Jan. 1 and 5 percent on July 1. Gustafson said she would review the budget to determine the impact of that delay.

Comprehensive plan delayed

The town delayed discussion of the comprehensive plan and land use code pending an update of the code. The company contracted to handle the comprehensive plan reportedly had not included several recent updates sent by the planning commission, and the plans were not ready for the board's acceptance.

Comments

greenwash 4 years, 6 months ago

Accepting annexation before comp plan is updated doesnt make sense.Good Job once again.

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honestabe 4 years, 6 months ago

The town and town board of oak creek also failed to notify the neighboring property owners of this items appearance on the agenda. If you look in thursdays newspaper, you will see an article about the town board meeting, but nothing about the annexation. The agenda was also not posted on the internet site where the town maintains a website, yampavalley.org. Thats three places where nothing was mentioned, even though there had been vocal opposition from the public and part of the planning commission . This new annexation goes against almost all of the town land use code and comprehensive plan that are currently in use. Is this 2 acre annexation really that beneficial for town to completely disregard the land use code and comprehensive plan?? Is this "benefit" the reason the annexation wasnt brought to the attention of the public it affects?

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Chuck Wisecup 4 years, 6 months ago

Wow I wish I had known we had 2 other such experts on the Land Use Code and the Comp plan. Perhaps I could have convinced you to apply for the open seat we have had on the planning commission for the last 6 months or so, and maybe, just maybe I could have convinced you to attend the public meetings we have had to gather input for the updates of these two documents. At least that would have given us the input of 2 citizens instead of ZERO. Oh that's right, you probably did your due diligence of turning in your survey that said " Not In My Backyard". Oooops, my apology, you probably don't realize that the official designated posting place for Town Board and Planning Commission agendas is the post office, not some web site or the newspaper articles. This item as well as the last 18 months worth of meetings to update these to documents have been posted at the "Officially designated" posting place advising that they would be agenda items and your input would be taken. The planning Commission and a few Town Board members have worked diligently over the last 18 months to try and update these documents and participation from the public to give us any direction for their community for the next 10 - 20 years has been for the most part non-existent except for the survey results. There is still time to have your voice heard or live with the input from those few who have labored over these documents. As for the vote last night, all that did was put the annexation process in motion. It started the clock ticking on the "Conceptual Plan" and allows the town to start spending the petitioner's money to identify issues that they may or may not be able to mitigate or resolve. We are hiring a planner on the petitioners "dime" to review the proposal and provide recommendation to the Town board on issues that need addressed. This process will include at least several more "Public Hearings" which will be on the agenda posted at the POST OFFICE and I can only assume since you are so deeply concerned about your community you will attend and make your concerns known. In the meantime watch for the Planning Commission agendas to be posted at the POST OFFICE for meetings to finalize the Comp Plan and the Land Use Code. Since I choose not to hide behind an anonymous name feel free to contact me with questions or concerns regarding updates of the documents. Ex-parte contact regarding the current annexation petition is frowned upon so, discussion regarding this issue will be limited to Public Meetings. Chuck Wisecup

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honestabe 4 years, 6 months ago

chuck, while i respect your service to the town of oak creek, truly, i must question your voting record on this annexation, both on town board and in the planning commission. You dont need to be an expert on the land use code, its section regarding annexation is only a couple of pages long. And when read, it says that this annexation goes against almost all of the bullet points suggested/required for annexation. While some in oc dont seem to realize it, this is no longer the 70's or 80's, the internet is a very useful tool for generating interest in the public process, and if used, you would have gotten some responses. i have no desire to be part of a planning commission that pays no attention to its own documents/rules. Maybe once you rewrite them they will be more to your liking and you can follow them.
in the meantime, i believe the land use code is still currently in use, and by your votes, you have disregarded it.

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upstream 4 years, 6 months ago

abe- exactly how does this annexation proposal go "against almost all" of the recommendations in the current comp plan and/or land use code? this is a real question, by the way. honestly, have you been to a SINGLE meeting or discussion regarding the new comp plan and land use code? Or a SINGLE meeting regarding this proposed annexation? you sound like an real whiner here("maybe once you rewrite them they will be more to your liking"? wah-wah-wah) which is too bad because I suspect from your degree of outrage you may actually have had a point or two worth hearing over the past 2 years of work on this. abe- if you want to be involved in Oak Creek decision making, you'll have to get with the way things happen here (ie. notices at the PO)- sorry we are not as sophisticated as you are, but that's how we roll. hopefully, we will all reap the benefit of your input in the coming months...

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 6 months ago

Chuck, I was surprised to see that consideration of the new land use and comp plan was on the agenda. Especially for land use, there is a huge difference between taking public comment and converting it to specific regulations. And I have tried to stay up by reading these docs from the website, but the work in progress of them has made it impossible to see how they specifically handle particular concerns.

I think the Town needs to publish (via web and at Town Hall) completed documents and then allow a public comment period of a couple of weeks.

The most recent comp plan on the Town's website dates to 2008 and is clearly a work in progress. I see nothing regarding new land use code other than intent to update it.

BTW, I note the complete contradiction between these two goals:

  1. The Town shall strengthen the Downtown Businesses District by creating infill design guidelines to make redevelopment less cost prohibitive.

c. Retail and office development within Performance District 1 shall be encouraged at street level. New offices in this district shall be encouraged to locate on the second floor, however office may be permitted on the first floor in those buildings not located on Main Street. New Residential development in Performance District I shall be limited to either second floor locations above businesses.

The contradiction is that making redevelopment economically viable does not forcing redeveloped properties to be exclusively retail on the first floor when OC has an abundance of cheap available commercial space on Main St.

It makes sense to disallow single family homes on Main St because that could lead to a scarcity of commercial space. But currently retail or office space is likely to be dead space and would destroy the economics of most redevelopment opportunities along Main St.

Thus, I think the Bartasius apartment deal makes sense. That deal was that first floor apartment space would be constructed to commercial standards so it could be converted to commercial use whenever that became commercially viable. Commercial normally pays more in rent than residential so residential use would be only because there are no commercial tenants desiring space.

I also suggest that the Town needs to figure out one consistent plan for downtown parking. Is the policy that historical buildings do not need to provide parking which was stated in Sliney's addition of an apartment at the bike store? Or is it the policy what was stated a few weeks later that the Fun Bucket at the Town Mall needed parking from Bonfigilio's? Dovetail Designs built a nice building, but one of the reasons they cannot sell it is that there is no expectation that any change of land use would be approved because it has almost no parking.

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upstream 4 years, 6 months ago

Scott- as per usual...what are you on about?! when it comes to Oak Creek you have too many swirling and twirling agendas to follow. The Comp is not now, nor has it ever been, a binding document. Similar to the land use code it is hugely flexible and dependant on the ability of those seeking changes/ approval to make a coherent and legitimate case before the commission and/or board. As a bit of constructive criticism, this is something you continue to struggle with. So far, Steinberg is on a roll with his project- he is playing by the rules, has clearly followed previous debates, is addressing previous concerns and has refrained from throwing tantrums or resorting to vindictive blather. It remains to be seen where this will go- but there is certainly something to be learned here.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 6 months ago

Upstream, Why is it that you must resort to personnel attacks?

The fact that there is no commercial use by right (as there is in SB commercial zoning) and commercial use depends on the ability of those seeking changes/ approval to "make a coherent and legitimate case before the commission and/or board" stops people from investing in OC. People do not want to purchase a building and then have to ask permission to use it and have no idea what will be required. It is insane that someone opening a home decorating store in a historical retail building has to go in front of planning and Town Board and talk about hours of operation and potential number of customers. It does not matter that it was approved. It matters to other potential buyers of OC commercial property that there is no commercial use by right or that there is no consistent policy regarding parking at existing commercial buildings. This is not about me. This is about potential investors having confidence that they can use the commercial property.

Investors do not want to purchase a property and then have to win a popularity contest in order to use the property. Look at all of the investment opportunities (properties for sale) on Main St, many which have been for sale for years. There was a historic real estate boom that skipped over downtown OC. That might suggest self analysis on why they didn't attract investment and what might be reasonable ways to make it more attractive for investors.

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greenwash 4 years, 6 months ago

you ve got to squeel like a pig to get what you want in Oak Ditch or at least play the banjo with ease.

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honestabe 4 years, 6 months ago

miss upstream, i will answer your questions, hopefully you can digest the answers without more incorrect suppositions and whining yourself. it is in chapter 17.10 of the land use code, ANENEXATION AND VACATIONS. The first thing you will see is 17.10.010 Policies A. Land shall be annexed only uf tge specific parcel is within a designated future growth area of the town and its development will provide a positive tax return to the town. Exemptions include existing residential structures adjacent to town...... Does this new annexation follow this policy? NO

B. ..... The town comprehensive plan shall serve as the "three mile annexation plan" in compliance with crs 31-12-105. Annexation along sh 131 and outside of designated future growth areas shall be discouraged.
Are we discouraging this annexation by, "approved a conceptual review for the Allegheny Gypsum project Thursday night." NO

C. Annexed land within a designated future growth area shall be developed in a pattern consistent with the lot, block, and road pattern within the existing town boundaries.... The lot and block pattern are consistent in the neighborhood proposed, however Steinbergs lot is nowhere near similar, it is an abberation which creates inconsistencies and further problems. Conforming with C, NO, again

D. Annexation and subdivision of productive agricultural land shall be discouraged, except for those areas directly adjacent to the town identified on the preferred scenario for possible future development. The parcel lies next to 2 separate pieces of land where horses are raised, and this land previously was used as such. while the land to be annexed isnt currently productive agricultural land, that is because this land was bought at a significant premium (100% or so), by competing real estate brokers/developers trying to hustle the town. E. The town shall consider annexation of state or count roads for purposes of improving town entries or road maintenance.
This item has little relevance to the current discussion, other than the new annexation will only possibly make road maintenance worse (possibly no effect also, to be fair). F. The infill of vacant land within the town shall be encouraged.
THE NEW ANNEXATION IS NOT INFILL, THERE ARE DUPLEXES FOR SALE 100FT AWAY FROM, EMPTY LOTS 50 FT AWAY, IN TOWN, AS WELL AS A PLETHORA OF AVAILABLE LOTS/HOUSES FOR SALE NOW.

these are all the policies regarding annexation, to which i dont believe Steinbergs plot follow. there are further requirements that follow, i will include what i see as the most important (and by far longest). Hope youre still reading,

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honestabe 4 years, 6 months ago

H.In considering whether to approve the annexation petition, the board of trustees shall be guided by the following: 1. That a community of interest exists between the town and the property proposed for annexation; Obviously some people in pennsylvania are interested, and a developer from steamboat, but at the planning comm meeting, and initial town board meeting, which were publicized, from what i hear there was nothing but opposition,.... and mr steinberg.
2. That the area proposed to be annexed is or will soon become developed. At the planning meeting, Mr Steinberg mentioned he didnt know how things would be built in 8-9 years (alluding to his development). He later backtracked and said 2-3 years would be the hopeful, earliest anything would happen. is this time frame "soon"?

  1. That existing natural hazards and nuisances upon the subject property have been or will be mitigated and or removed ..... When one references the comprehensive plan and the extensive (probably expensive also) maps, you find that the area proposed is listed as a Hazard Area, where urban development is not recommended. This is due to steep slopes, unstable soils, flood plains, and wildfire. Also, the excess/additional drainage generated from this project will flow into Arthur Ave, which is currently in the 100yr. flood plain. Maybe they have mitigated these things by building their annexation on town land, their maps show their development extending onto town property.
  2. That to the greatest degree possible, the proposed new development is utilizing vacant lands within Performance District One prior to the annexation of new property.

i omitted several bullet points under "requirements", not because they support the development, they dont, they just are less relevant.

So, is this another case where you and town go on defending a losing proposition (ie russ and eric), and wait until something is done that results in US being sued, or do we look at the policies in place and follow them?

To further answer your questions ms upstream, honestly, yes and yes. i have tried to get with the way things are done here in o.c., and from what ive gathered, notices are sent out to neighboring property owners when something of this impact arises, from what i hear, no one was notified.
did you still feel steinberg (or town board) has addressed these issues? Do we need an internet poster to bring town LAND USE CODES into the discussion, or should they have already been referenced?

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flotilla 4 years, 6 months ago

Alright, I think it is important to attend further meetings Honestabe, as I believe you have already probably attended some. And I think what Chuck said, about this STARTING the petition, is important. There is no guarantee that this will be approved, but pushing people away who will bring money to the town, which we of course, need, isn't the right way to go either. I can't say I am for this, but I think it is necessary to give the opportunity and show that we are cooperative. Alleghany will have to show benefit, compliance and need for this type of housing, I believe, in order to come close to an annexation. There are a lot of things that can happen in this petition process, so lets not jump the gun.

Greenwash, I encourage you to try and find a new hobbie other than bashing the OC. I usually hold myself back because it really does nothing to play your game. But today, your insolence and demeaning comments add absolutely nothing to the discussion. And if you have an ounce of intelligence, you certainly don't show it. If only playing the banjo with ease got one free stuff... but it only brings laughter and joy into the household alas. But you wouldn't know.

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flotilla 4 years, 6 months ago

also, honestabe, I live near the proposed development and I received two notices.

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greenwash 4 years, 6 months ago

you know its just stupid sarcasm ...I luv the OC

builing in OC is good for biz and community.dont turn it away

chelseas is mmmm good as well.

god bless.

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upstream 4 years, 6 months ago

I, too, have read the comp plan and the land use code. I have also heard most of the proposed changes and the discussions around them. Appropriately, there is much room for interpretation. I, too, think Steinberg et al have a tough row to hoe to demonstrate how their proposal will meet the guidelines. The point I have failed at making is that the annexation process is designed to allow anyone to pay their money and make the attempt. Steinberg was present through much of the last annexation bid (recall that his land was part of one of the many configurations Heather tried to pitch) and he is, I'm sure, acutely aware of where it fell short (largely around the issues abe has raised above). My thought is that he is working hard to address the concerns raised then- the planning commission and Board recognize this effort and have granted his group approval to move foward with their planning. In so doing, they have also put the community to task to pay attention, get educated and participate in the upcoming process. While I personally would rather not see this annexation occur while the town struggles to support its aging infrastructure and residential lots sit empty and derelict, I think this group has done a good job of respecting the process. Again, there is much to be learned here.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 6 months ago

The annexation by paying tap fees and it's units paying water/sewer fees should help the Town support the rest of it's infrastructure. It has been claimed many times that it costs the same to run the water/sewer plants the same regardless of how much water is used.

So to the extent that supporting infrastructure is considered, that would tend to suggest the Town should annex whatever is proposed.

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max huppert 4 years, 6 months ago

Why is no one upset about our utilities going up again? I dont understand why this board cant make due with the funds available instead of wasting hard earned dollars that the citizens have to front due the incompetance of not being able to budget money. I think the board wastes and does not know how to spend in ways that better the community for growth and business. Thank you Chuck and Nikki for doing the right thing, now we just need to get rid of the other 3 !!!

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honestabe 4 years, 6 months ago

I think the primary thing to be learned here is that there is little respect coming from Steinberg and his group of pennsylvanians. They have blatantly disregarded the land use code, and have no plans for putting any buildings up in the near future. they simply want to make up for the mistake of buying county land at an inflated price (congrats to Richard Wisecup for his profit). they have no intention of building attainable housing, there is no profit for them in that, and profit is there ONLY motive (or minimizing their loss). there is currently a lot of attainable/affordable housing in o.c., possibly some of it is still available because of a lack of law and order emanating from town board not following its own rules (land use code, comp plan). Why approve a conceptual review if it is an extremely flawed concept? Did any town board member bring up these conflicts?

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flotilla 4 years, 6 months ago

Oh come on honestabe, which developers here aren't trying to turn a profit... and I have yet to meet any developer who "cares" about the community. Their job is not to "care" it is to make money. It is the PC and Town Board's job to care and to manage the town. So, the planning commission meets the 3rd wednesday of each month and please come and make your opinion heard. Otherwise, deal with the outcomes.

And Max, I didn't see you applying to the open board position that was just filled by Nikki. Your use of the word incompetence is off. "The other 3" take time away from their families, jobs and personal time to do the best they can. They are all trying to make Oak Creek into a nice community. They are informed and educated individuals. Grow up. You'll have the chance to vote in April, Max, and good luck to your candidates.

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max huppert 4 years, 6 months ago

thats what i am waiting for,, and just because you do the best you can doesnt mean you know how to do a good job. what do you do Flotilla? just curious your prof.

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upstream 4 years, 6 months ago

I am not thrilled about ponying up more money for utilities and I am glad there was active dissent on the board over this issue. But I also know that utility rates should have been raised in regular increments over the past decade and were not. Our town was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt just 4 years ago and on the brink of disaster. The board has scrimped and scraped to get this town back in the black over the past 3 years and they have suceeded. I think one would be hard pressed to find many examples of frivolous spending (there are a few I'd agree)- but, the good news is that the budget has not yet been finalized and you still have time to offer your cost saving ideas! In fact, you could apply for Fisher's seat and have a vote!

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max huppert 4 years, 6 months ago

I didnt like where Fisher sat, he had a bad chair. Now Mayor has a better title. maybe us 30 somethings should all run and take over, this is a time of new ideas and leadership. Hey Scott, how much you selling the coal for. That pile is getting big.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 6 months ago

I am not selling coal. That is my coal. With coal no longer available nearby, it made sense to buy a lot at once. While it may make sense for someone to bring in coal like that and sell it locally and it can be done profitably at a competitive price, no one with the equipment wants to deal with planning and the Town Board to get permission to run a coal selling business.

I do not believe J Elliot to be wasteful with money so the water/sewer budget is not obviously bloated. The tricky part of the enterprise budget is the amount of Town Hall and public works time and expenses being billed to Water/Sewer. I would expect that OC would have efficiencies of sharing employees as that would tend to keep employees busier, but OC is paying substantially more for employees than Morrison Creek Water District at Stagecoach which has a similar sized system and is spending money on their expansion issues.

There is a long history of the town taking from enterprise funds to pay for general fund expenses and the Town does not appear to be particularly efficient or effective at running the utilities. (Would have had water meters and other improvements if money had not been transferred to general fund over time). It might be worth considering converting the water/sewer/electrical enterprises into it's own utility district with it's own board of directors. I've heard smart knowledgeable people describe how it would work and it would not be particularly difficult to do.

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