BROWNSBURG — There was no shortage of caucus at this month’s town hall meeting at Eaton Hall, as citizens from both townships and the town of Brownsburg turned out in an attempt to better understand the process of consolidation and the impact it is expected to have.
At debate is whether the town of Brownsburg should consolidate with Lincoln and Brown townships.
One of the oft voiced concerns was the effect on township residents’ “quality of life” as it has been termed, what that means, and how exactly those who live in the townships being consolidated will be effected.
One citizen stood up and voiced some of the commonly echoed concerns.
Brown Township Trustee Troy Wymer gave a synopsis on the potential improvements of consolidation, as well as the risks associated with not doing it.
”The first thing that comes out is more local control of zoning, roads, and those types of things,” Wymer said. “In Brown Township, we were subservient to the county zoning policies that are not the same as Brownsburg’s. I think we all agreed that we were the same community and share the same zip code.
”My house is not in the town of Brownsburg but if my house caught on fire, the town fire department would be there. We’re an overlapping community, but our zoning ordinances and building requirements are different. The county does not come out to seek permission from Brownsburg when they want to build something on the border of unincorporated Brown Township and the border of the town of Brownsburg.”
Wymer went on to talk about the future of the town and the area being the key cog in this idea of consolidation, mostly due to expected, inevitable expansion.
”You can see that it could cause problems in a community that grew rapidly and will grow rapidly again one of these days,” he said. “There are benefits you get with consolidation, like an increase in service. What does that mean when it comes to tax dollars? There’s a balance in there somewhere.”
Wymer noted the fact that as the process moves forward, it means the Brownsburg Police Department will now operate in those township areas. He also drew mention to Brownsburg sidewalk stick pick up service, the potential for plowed streets, and maintenance and repairs to roads in the consolidated areas.
”Regarding the perceived increase in taxes over time, you have to make the decision over time if that’s the right thing you want to do,” he said.
Joy Vrabec is chairperson of the consolidation committee, which consists of nine bipartisan, non-elected officials from Lincoln and Brown townships, as well as the town of Brownsburg.
”One of the things that’s not been mentioned is that consolidation is not annexation,” she explained. “We also were very, very mindful of taxes and services. Residential tax caps that we all enacted with legislature two years ago are 1 percent residential and 3 percent business. This has an impact on the services this deal can render. We are a community on the move. We are growing, and we must control our destiny. If we don’t, someone else will do it for us. Right now in the township, the county tells us what will be approved within the township. The town does not. Right now, if you live in the townships, you’re at the mercy of what the county says is appropriate for you.
”We felt strongly that there has to be a method and mechanism to control commercial development in the community. We all live in the same area, so we felt it was, to a person, our committee felt this was very important.”
Vrabec went on to talk about the documentation that is being worked up to coalesce all groups before being put forth to the community for input. There will be five public input meetings over the next two months where citizens can voice their concerns or put their stamp on the final product, which will go to a vote.
”As far as the town taking our document and finalizing one that we can all agree upon, we feel like the discussion is important,” Vrabec said. “As far as how the community would evolve in time, we spent considerable time in the document defining how future development would occur within the community and how it would evolve from being rural to urban. Finally, our lawyer advised that the law allows you, when you make recommendations as a committee, to use ‘shall’ language as opposed to ‘will’ language. We left it really open to what this committee decides. Today we may be happy as little clams, but who knows? Today doesn’t last forever.”