By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
Though there were claims that there are too many vacant buildings in the area, permission was granted Monday for a developer to construct a medical office near the intersection of Green Valley Road and Daisy Lane.
The New Albany City Council approved on final reading a Planned Unit Development District, or PUDD, request for ONC LLC.
Dr. Naveed Chowhan — who practiced at the Cancer Center of Indiana before it was purchased by Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services — will occupy the 14,000-square-foot building.
City officials had discussed requiring the developer to foot the expense of adding a turning lane off Green Valley Road to serve the building.
However, New Albany Plan Commission Director Scott Wood said a private engineer estimated only about 80 vehicles per day would “see a benefit” from installing the turning lane.
Wood added “it’s a significant expense” to construct the lane, and that at least two large trees would have to be removed to make space for the new roadway.
The PUDD request was approved 6-2, with Councilmen John Gonder and Dan Coffey opposing the measure. Council President Pat McLaughlin was absent from the meeting.
Gonder voiced last month his concerns that more pavement in the area would increase flooding and contribute to urban warming in terms of temperature proliferation.
Coffey said Monday there are already several medical and office buildings in the Green Valley Road corridor that are largely vacant.
“We allowed people to develop what they didn’t need to develop,” Coffey said, adding that the city and residents have to deal with drainage problems caused by overdevelopment.
The new medical building would sit almost parallel to the Trinity Plaza development.
MATCH REACHED FOR CHURCH WORK
The Friends of the Town Clock Church have raised almost $80,000 and have surpassed the match needed to release city funds for the rehabilitation project of the Civil War-era structure.
Architect Larry Timperman has been assisting with the effort, and on Monday he provided the council with an update on the progress.
Some work has been accomplished, including cleaning the steeple area and the removal of the clock faces from the building that now houses New Albany Second Baptist Church.
When the council agreed to appropriate $75,000 for the project, it stipulated private funds would have to be raised to match the public money.
Timperman and church officials said that the match amount has been met, and they committed to provide a financial report on the project to the council for its July 18 meeting.
Gonder said during that meeting a resolution will be voted on that would allow Friends of the Town Clock Church to proceed with using public funding for the next phase of the project.
Timperman said a structural analysis of the clock tower needs to be administered to ensure it can hold the weight of the replicated steeple system.
“I have no reason to believe it shouldn’t be able to,” he said.
The original steeple was struck by lightning and destroyed around 1909. Among the features of the restoration project, a lightning protection system would be installed on the tower.
The first phase of the project, including the replication of the steeple, has been estimated to cost $217,500.
However, Timperman said some portions of the project will likely be somewhat cheaper than the initial estimate.
Councilman Scott Blair asked if, counting the city’s $75,000 and the money raised so far privately, the organization would have enough funds to complete the first phase.
Timperman responded, “I think we do,” and added that the total expense may decrease even more since the project will be advertised for bids since it entails public funding.
Construction was halted by the city on the church earlier this year when a contractor working on the project was deemed to not have the necessary license to work on the structure.
The issue was resolved, and the city cleared the project to continue in April. Timperman said work on the church could be completed this year.
Town Clock Church was a link in the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.
ADMINISTRATION PLAYS DOWN $1.1 MILLION CUT
With a $440,000 surplus on hand, a reduction of $1.1 million to the city’s general fund tax collections next year shouldn’t sting too much, administration officials said Monday.
Gonder asked Shane Gibson, an attorney with the city who also assists with budgets, to further detail the $1.1 million circuit-breaker cut that was announced last week.
The city is about 4 percent under its budget this year, and there was a $440,000 surplus held over from 2012 to begin this year, Gibson said.
He called the change in Indiana’s tax code that will reduce New Albany’s general fund “not drastic news,” based on the city’s financial condition.
“If they continue to do what they’ve done the first six months, we’ll be OK at the end of the year,” Gibson said of the city’s department heads.
According to the administration, a change in the state’s tax code will divert more property taxes to public schools in part by providing less revenue for municipal governments.
The city also garnered about $700,000 more in taxes for its spring settlement than had been forecasted, according to the administration.
New Albany has received more taxes for its general fund in recent years. The 2013 budget was $20 million, which was up more than $4 million from 2011.
Gibson said obviously the city would have preferred to have kept building a surplus, but added that at least there are options available to deal with the likely cut beyond further appropriations.