Town council news: Flashing lights, sign approvals, sewer partnership, flood protection

Town council: Be festive, but without the flash

Nashville shopkeepers and residents are encouraged to decorate for Christmas, but Nashville Town Council President “Buzz” King asks for some consideration for your neighbors and the town’s design guidelines.

Please, no flashing or moving lights, he asked at the Nov. 17 council meeting.

There’s a “loophole” in town ordinances that doesn’t appear to ban those in decorations, but that was the town’s intent when it banned flashing and moving lights in signs, he said. “People don’t consider a reindeer a sign, and they’ve got a point,” he said.

When merchants decorate with flashing lights, “it draws attention to your shop and leaves other shops out, and if everyone did that, we’d look like Pigeon Forge or Carmel, and I don’t think that’s the impression we want to give,” he said.

The town might have to send a letter to the Christmas in Brown County committee, which the town is part of, as well, King admitted. Council members said Christmas committee members hung moving “waterfall” lights on trees at the courthouse last week, but they haven’t been turned on yet.

King’s other “Notes to Note” reminder to residents was about parking. Several changes have taken place this fall with where parking places and sidewalks have been placed, so double-check before you park in a place you’ve always parked, he said.

Town looking at streamlining sign approval process

Before a merchant can hang a sign outside a business, the size, material and placement of that sign need to be approved at a meeting of the Nashville Development Review Commission.

DRC President Penny Scroggins would like to see the commission’s role in that process reduced so that merchants have fewer hoops to jump through when opening a business in Nashville.

Town council members said they are open to that idea.

Scroggins said she’d develop a checklist for merchants that they could run through when considering a sign, then have a member of the town staff review and approve it at Town Hall. If everything checked out, the sign wouldn’t have to go before the DRC at a monthly meeting; if there were questions, the DRC could still review the application.

That would reduce the DRC’s workload by about 90 percent and save time for everyone, Scroggins said.

Planning Director Chris Ritzmann said if the council approves this change in procedure, it might have to be changed in the sign ordinance, which may have to go before the Brown County Area Plan Commission before it would take effect. She planned to seek guidance from the APC’s attorney.

Scroggins planned to develop a checklist within the next few weeks for review by the rest of the DRC and the town council.

Town, sewer district still considering partnership

Before the end of the year, the Brown County Regional Sewer District is planning to apply for a grant to run sewer service to the Bean Blossom area. But it still needs to decide how and where that sewage would be treated.

Running that sewage to Nashville, which has a sewer plant with excess capacity, is one option. Sewer board President Evan Werling said the board is also considering building a “package plant” to treat the sewage elsewhere, but dotting such plants around the county isn’t good for the county as a whole.

Piping sewage to Nashville wouldn’t be the cheapest option, but the difference is close, he said.

“The really important thing that this is an option where the town and the county can work together and we’re not duplicating efforts,” he said.

Before the sewer district board makes a decision, it needs a letter from the town showing the rate it will charge the sewer district for treatment. Town Manager/Economic Development Director Scott Rudd said that’s in the works and should be done by Dec. 1, which is the town council’s next meeting date. That’s after the deadline Werling gave the town of Nov. 29, but Rudd said that’s the best the town could do.

Werling said it’s important that the sewer district get its grant application materials finalized and submitted as soon as possible in order to get in line for consideration for federal funding. The sewer project in Bean Blossom has already been discussed for more than 15 years. He said more delays could mean that there wouldn’t be much left of the Bean Blossom community, which is served only by septic systems.

Werling told the Nashville Town Council Nov. 17 that he hopes this is “the first of a lot of things we’re going to be doing together down the road in economic development.”

Planning grant to allow for better flood protection

When Salt Creek does its seasonal and sometimes surprise spills into downtown Nashville, town leaders want to be prepared for them.

That’s the point of a $20,000 flood response grant the town is getting from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Town Manager/Economic Development Director Scott Rudd announced the grant at the Nov. 17 town council meeting. It’s a planning grant to develop a one-page directive on what to do when the creek reaches certain flood stages.

Rudd said a lot is known already about which properties and roads flood, but there isn’t an action plan on paper for how to systematically respond. Representatives from emergency response agencies and the town water, sewer and street departments will be pulled in for a meeting to help develop it, he said.

The town already has been collecting data on creek depth through a depth meter which the United States Geological Society placed on the Salt Creek bridge last year, said Town Utility Coordinator Sean Cassiday.

The planning grant may also allow the town to create an automated alert system that notifies key people when they need to swing into action, blocking streets or evacuating residents, hotels or other buildings, Rudd said.

Rudd said the grant came about through a conversation with an engineer about the road to the water treatment plant flooding. That engineer took those concerns to the DNR and the grant came “out of nowhere,” he said. In addition to protecting private property, the plan should allow town staff more notice to get key equipment up and out of harm’s way at the plant, he said.