Franklin County Commissioners responded to concerns about unkempt properties in the county with a property nuisance ordinance at their July 13 meeting.

County board attorney Grant Reeves explained the ordinance was spurred by an absentee owner who has failed to maintain a property resulting in vermin issues for neighboring property owners. Reeves explained he started with Shelby County's ordinance and streamlined it to fit the needs of Franklin County. The ordinance establishes a compliance officer, but does not define who fills that role, he suggested the scope of the role would fit well within the area planning office.

Commissioner Tom Wilson replied the area planning director currently has a heavy workload and suggested since commission president Tom Linkel was absent from the meeting on vacation, the commission president be named the nuisance property compliance officer. Commissioner Gerald Wendel agreed and moved to accept the ordinance with the commission president as the compliance officer. Wilson seconded and the two commissioners voted to approve.

Also discussed:
-County engineer Larry Smith opened bids to repave the entire length of Fairfield Causeway Road, funded through an Indiana Department of Transportation Community Crossings Matching Grant, which covers 75% of the project with a 25% local match. Paul H. Rohe submitted a bid of $1,337,124 and Dave O'Mara submitted a bid of $1,222,982. After review of the bids, Smith recommended the low bid submitted by O'Mara, commissioners approved the O'Mara bid.

-Union County surveyor Ted Young brought concerns about work needed to repair broken tiles on a drainage ditch servicing parts of both Union and Franklin counties. The properties served by the ditch currently have a $10 an acre assessment to the ditch maintenance fund; the required work is expected to exhaust that fund. Young stated by law, that assessment can be raised up to 25% without notification to account for an increase in expenses. Further increases would require a longer approval process. Commissioners asked Young to develop a plan for the improvements and a cost estimate.

-Commissioners reviewed proposed updates to the county's road design and subdivision control standards. Reeves explained the proposed text includes road standards submitted by Smith and drainage standards submitted by county surveyor Rob Seig. The new standards will give contractors more guidance when looking to start developments in the county. Commissioners voted to approve the changes, which will go into effect in 30 days.

-The developer of Elkhorn Estates in Whitewater Township has approached Smith; they are willing to put a final overlay on the development's road but asked for guidance from the county to ensure it will be accepting into the county's inventory. Reeves asked Smith if he had inspected the road and if all other concerns are in order. Smith replied he had inspected the road and once some cracks are filled and a final overlay in in play, expects it to meet the county's standards. Reeves suggested Smith draft a list of work required and a timeline; Reeves will write it into a legal agreement, contingent upon Smith's final approval.

-Commissioners have received budget requests from the county's various departments for the 2022 budget. Those requests will be forwarded to the county auditor and county council.