News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 8, 2013

Council’s message: Resolve conflict, then we’ll vote

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Terre Haute City Council wants an eastside property conflict resolved before voting on a rezoning request from a local developer.

At its Thursday night “sunshine” meeting in City Hall, the council heard a request from Thompson Thrift, a Terre Haute-based contractor, to rezone property for an expansion of the Sycamore Terrace Apartments, which are near the eastside Walmart.

The rezoning, from C-3 commercial to R-3 residential, would allow the apartments, constructed in 2011, to expand by 72 units, said Tim Fears, general counsel for Thompson Thrift.

As happened at Wednesday night’s Vigo County Area Plan Commission meeting, Wayne Horn, who lives north of the apartments, said the existing complex is draining water onto a part of his property and he believes adding more apartments will only make the situation worse.

“You cannot walk through [the affected property] without boots,” Horn said, speaking to the council.

Because Thursday night’s meeting was an informational “sunshine” meeting, the council took no action on the rezoning request. However, Council President Norm Loudermilk urged the two sides to reach a resolution by Thursday’s regular meeting.

Principals with Thompson Thrift plan to walk the property before the Thursday meeting, Fears told the council. Horn and Councilman Bob All, R-2nd, whose district includes the property in question, said they would meet at the site at the same time.

City Engineer Chuck Ennis said there were some initial problems with erosion controls at the Sycamore Terrace construction site, but those were corrected by the contractor. He also said he and other city officials looked into the water problem after Horn reported it to them in 2011.

“It didn’t look excessive to us,” Ennis said, adding he did not ask the contractor to take any steps as a result of that inspection.

City Attorney, Chou-il Lee, said the current commercial zoning of the property would allow Thompson Thrift to build something even larger than the proposed apartments, which could create even more potential drainage.

“The system is flawed because it drains [water] onto my property,” Horn responded. “They could put in a McDonalds and we’d still have that problem.”

n Also Thursday, Councilman Neil Garrison, D-5th, said he plans to postpone until at least March a possible vote on his plan to transfer $20,000 within the city’s budget to pay for a financial consultant for the City Council. Any changes to the city’s 2013 budget now could cause problems due to an on-going budget review process underway in Indianapolis, city officials have said.

Garrison, who has questioned the city’s financial health, is proposing the City Council hire an independent consultant to help the nine-member body better understand the city’s financial position. Garrison has often questioned the accuracy or timeliness of financial information provided by administration officials.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or