At Summit Springs work session tonight, council will get an itsy bitsy glimpse into City Hall’s smoke-filled secret planning chamber.

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6:30 p.m., tonight, council chamber. Regular meeting at 7. Soothing gin available at The Exchange, pre-game.

Just plain citizen Aaron Hellems continues to perform a valuable public service by attempting to make transparent the backroom dealings that led to this project’s surprise re-appearance, which for most people became evident only when the hillside was denuded of trees earlier this spring.

Shortly thereafter, City Hall triumphantly announced its participation in yet another private developer enrichment project, Summit Springs (NOW WITH HOTEL!!!), and therein lies the biggest question of all, at least for me.

We, the city, spent in excess of two years — more like three — battling these developers in court over issues pertaining to our ability as a municipal entity to establish rules about developments like Summit Springs.

We, the city, moved the court case to Scott County, far from prying eyes. The court case was settled (circumstances as yet unknown — that transparency thing again) circa October of 2015, and mere months later, down came the trees, and up went the plaque proclaiming we, the city’s tremendous achievement in public/private partnering with the developers to snarl State Street traffic for generations to come — not to mention stormwater system overloads and a host of other questions not subject to public review or participation.

Here’s what inquiring minds want to know:


Given the time it  takes to engrave plaques and overhaul multi-million dollar project plans, was one arm of City Hall fighting Summit Springs even as another arm was fluffing it?

The answer should be obvious. Waiting for Jeff Gahan to answer this question honestly? Don’t, because he cannot and will not. He won’t come to tonight’s meeting. However, at the ribbon cutting, he’ll be standing center stage, fundraising for That State Senate Campaign in 2018.

Summit Springs work session coming soon, by Jerod Clapp (Utica Solidarity Gazette)

NEW ALBANY — Getting some answers on the process and what’s coming forward for the Summit Springs development off State Street is the aim of a city council work session Monday night.

Since the clear cutting of trees behind home on Fawcett Hill Road, which backs up to the proposed development, Aaron Hellems has raised his issues with the city in terms of why those trees were cut down, how it was pushed through by a single city official and looking for assurances that the city will honor laws regarding PUDDs in the future.

He spoke at the last city council meeting on May 19 about the issues. However, he said he’s not heard from anyone involved in the development since.

“Unfortunately, nobody from the city has reached out to discuss this,” Hellems said. “Likewise, the developers haven’t tried to contact us, either. [The city council] said when you come back, you need to know what you want. It’s not so much about me as it is the neighborhood.”

He said part of the issue is how the clear cutting was approved. He said those sorts of decisions require second approval by local governing agencies under the law, but that didn’t happen with those trees. Scott Wood, director of the city plan commission, made that decision in April. He said there was a deadline to meet to cut the trees down before Indiana Bats began roosting in them, which would have delayed the project for about another year.

The heroic Statue of Disdain, coming soon to a hillside near us.

Green Mouse Q and A: How the Summit Springs hilltop clustermuck got to this point.

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