First Monday matters: Pipeline ordinance, concrete plant and more
A few highlights ahead Monday’s typically busy array of meetings from the Lafayette and West Lafayette city councils and Tippecanoe County commissioners.
Sponsorship help comes today from the Haan Museum. “Holidays at the Haan,” now through Dec. 30, is a wonderful opportunity for families and individuals to immerse themselves in the holiday spirit and enjoy a festive atmosphere. Marvel at beautifully decorated holiday trees, each with a unique theme and style. Enjoy the charm of model trains and bask in the warmth glow of twinkling holiday lights. Come to admire the collections of holiday ornaments from various cultures and explore the diversity of holiday traditions from around the world. The museum is a magical place to visit during the holiday season. Discover a place to create lasting memories and spend quality time together with loved ones during the holiday season. For daily times, go to: www.thehaan.org
Support also comes from Purdue’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, presenting the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Jan. 16, at Elliott Hall of Music, in a 2024 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative event. For free tickets and group orders, check the details below.
HEADING INTO THIS MONTH’S ‘FIRST MONDAY’
A few highlights ahead of Monday’s typically busy array of meetings from the Lafayette and West Lafayette city councils and Tippecanoe County commissioners.
TIPPECANOE COUNTY ORDINANCE AIMED AT THE LEAP PIPELINE: Tippecanoe County commissioners are expected to hold a second and final vote on a nine-month moratorium Monday on large-scale water transfers and high-volume wells in Tippecanoe County. The step is meant to slow or stop an Indiana Economic Development Corp. plan to tap and take tens of millions of gallons daily from the Wabash River aquifer to supply water via an estimated $2 billion pipeline running more than 35 miles to the massive LEAP District development two counties away, near Lebanon.
An IEDC spokesperson called the move “a clear action to stoke further rhetoric and misinformation,” saying it “has zero practicality and was moot from its introduction,” given that no wells or pipelines would be installed in the next nine months. County commissioners said the nine-month moratorium was meant to give the General Assembly a chance to consider changes in state law to either stop or limit the pipeline concept.
Since the initial vote, before an overflow crowd Nov. 20 in the County Office Building, Greater Lafayette area lawmakers have reported they’ve received assurances that funding for a pipeline would not be in consideration during the 2024 General Assembly session and that a bill they were working on to regulate high-volume pumping and large-scale water transfers would be allowed for consideration in the coming legislative session.
Since then, also, county commissioners have been told that pumping wouldn’t start until the week of Dec. 11 at a second test site, on acreage along County Road 75 South, about a mile-and-a-half southwest of Granville Bridge on County Road 700 West. Neighbors were told last week the delay was because the contractor “couldn't get assembled" until that Monday.
Results from the IEDC’s $2.9 million study of the Wabash River aquifer are expected from Texas-based consultant INTERA in January 2024. Gov. Eric Holcomb recently assigned the Indiana Finance Authority to oversee the completion of that study, as well as a larger, regional study into water supplies in at least 12 Indiana counties, including Tippecanoe County.
The commissioners will discuss the ordinance at 10 a.m. Monday at the County Office Building, 20 N. Third St. in Lafayette.
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CONCRETE PLANT, THIRD TIME: A rezoning plan that would clear the way for a concrete plant on the southwestern edge of Lafayette is back on the Lafayette City Council agenda Monday for a third consecutive month. The previous two months have brought delays before city council members could discuss or vote on it.
A plan to rezone 30 acres for an Irving Materials concrete plant and gravel hauling operation at County Roads 100 West and 275 South, just west of U.S. 231 South, has been reduced to roughly half the size since it emerged with a negative recommendation from the Area Plan Commission and a line of neighbors ready to speak against it.
Neighbors turned out in big numbers at an Area Plan Commission meeting in September to speak against the rezoning, citing health, noise and traffic concerns. And when the matter was tabled at a November city council meeting, roughly 20 people got up and left the city council chambers after the petitioner asked to hold off for a second consecutive month.
The request would rezone the land from single-family R1 zone to the heaviest possible I3 industrial zone. The company has said the plan was to build berms and plant trees to help mitigate the changes. And they promised truck traffic would be limited to County Road 275 South and not along roads the cut closer to most of the homes in the area. Neighbors raised questions about dust, noise, truck traffic they’d would have to contend with heading to U.S. 231 and their property values. The APC voted 11-3 to recommend denial.
The city council will consider the zoning request at 6 p.m. Monday at Lafayette City Hall, 20 N. Sixth St.
GE AEROSPACE PLANT EXPANSION, TAX BREAKS: The Lafayette City Council will get a look at a plan from GE Aerospace to invest $24 million into its plant along U.S. 52 in Lafayette over the next four years. In November, the Lafayette Redevelopment Commission recommended a 10-year tax abatement on some of that equipment tied to a line expansion that is expected to bring 41 additional jobs to the facility. GE now has 245 full-time jobs at the Lafayette facility, once known as GE Aviation.
The $50 million Lafayette plant opened in 2015 making LEAP engines for Airbus A320neo and the Boeing 737 MAX, narrowbody workhorses of the passenger flight industry. In 2020, GE Aerospace moved production of the Passport engine, used in Bombardier Global 7500 ultra-long range business jets, from a plant in southern Kansas to Lafayette.
Jordan Wysong, plant leader for the Lafayette Engine Facility, said after the redevelopment commission that the Lafayette facility each week is making two Passport engines, seven to eight of its LEAP-1A engines for Airbus A320neo and nine of its LEAP-1B engines for Boeing 737 MAX. He said that equipment being added in 2024 would initially take those numbers to 2¼ on Passport, 10 on LEAP-1A and 13 on LEAP-1B.
The Lafayette City Council gets the final say in tax incentives tied to the expansion.
PUPPY MILL ORDINANCE: The Lafayette and West Lafayette city councils are expected to take up second and final votes on an ordinance intended to put the cities and Tippecanoe County on the same page with its codes as they work to centralize animal control out of a new Humane Society for Greater Lafayette shelter in Lafayette. The ordinance would restrict the retail sales of puppies and kittens, other than from breed-specific rescue shelters or from hobby breeders “where the consumer can see directly the conditions in which the dogs or cats are bred.” The Lafayette and West Lafayette city councils gave unanimous backing on first votes on Nov. 6. Tippecanoe County commissioners gave a second and final vote on Nov. 20. At that point, Nathan Bazler, an owner of Indiana Puppies Online, told commissioners he planned to sue, because the ordinance would force him to close a branch of his Ohio-based the business in West Point. No filings had been made as of this weekend. Carmel, Columbus and Bloomington are among Indiana cities that have similar restrictions to the ones being considered here.
Speaking of which, the inspiration for the puppy mill ban gave rise to …
WEST LAFAYETTE’S HOME RULE RESOLUTION: Animal rights advocates across the state had spotlighted the puppy mill issue in early 2023 as the General Assembly considered Senate Bill 134, which would have prohibited local governments from restricting sales of puppies and kittens. The bill would have stopped local bans on sales at pet stores, so long as the breeders that supplied them met certain state standards. The Senate approved that bill, but the measure didn’t get a vote in the Indiana House.
David Sanders, a West Lafayette City Council member, said that bit of information spurred a proposed resolution offering a distaste for state laws that pre-empt local governments from dealing with local affairs.
The proposed resolution, offered by Sanders and city council member James Blanco, calls out a handful of times when the General Assembly stopped city and county governments taking actions on firearms regulations, elections, licensing for counselors, fees for solid waste management, food and beverage taxes and rental regulations, among others.
“The pet bill and what the legislature is trying to do is what brought it to a head,” Sanders said. “We’ve often commented about not being able to do something because the state legislature has decided it wants control and doesn’t think local communities can handle local concerns. … This just puts voice to that.”
The resolution says lawmakers who represent parts of West Lafayette would be “urged to seek the opinion of the Mayor of the City of West Lafayette and of the Common Council of the City of West Lafayette on all pending Indiana General Assembly legislation that could result in preemption of local government functions.”
The West Lafayette City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 222 N. Chauncey Ave.
THIS AND THAT …
DRAFTS OF WABASH AND TIPPECANOE TOWNSHIP LAND USE PLANS OPEN FOR COMMENT: A first draft of land use plans for Wabash Township and Tippecanoe Township – a growing area west and north of West Lafayette – was released last week by the Area Plan Commission. The APC will hold an open house Tuesday, Dec. 5, to go over the findings and recommendations, ahead of a public comment period that extends through January 2024.
Tippecanoe County commissioners signed off on an APC study of land uses and growth patterns in unincorporated Wabash Township and Tippecanoe Township in 2022, aiming to look at housing patterns, population trends, roads and recreation uses in the coming decades. The draft includes looks at development along U.S. 231, including a look ahead to a potential additional interchange at Interstate 65, north of West Lafayette.
The open house will be 5-9 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Wabash Township Trustee Office, 2899 Klondike Road. APC staff will be there to answer questions and display maps from the plan. Find a link to the draft plan here. Comments also may be made in writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks, again, to Purdue’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, presenting the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Jan. 16, at Elliott Hall of Music. Get tickets here.
Thanks, also, to the Haan Museum, presenting “Holidays at the Haan” from Nov. 24-Dec. 30. For more, go to: www.thehaan.org
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