A council member urged Hagerstown Town Council to act on items that are repeatedly brought up for discussion without final resolution.

Donnie Benedict said the council has been talking for years about locating a solar array in town and annexing properties on the west side. At the council’s July 10 meeting, he suggested making final decisions and stopping the discussions.

Donnie Benedict

The town had been approached a few years ago to allow a utility company to build a solar array to generate electricity from vacant property. Proposed locations included the town airport and land north of the town-owned cemetery. The town recommended the cemetery property. The proposal was scrapped after neighbors objected.

Saying it has continued as a topic of discussion, Benedict asked what benefits the town would gain from allowing the solar array. Brian Longbons replied that it could reduce some variable costs associated with buying electricity from the town’s wholesale supplier. Surplus power could also be sold to the utility. Benedict asked whether council members would want a solar array built next to their homes.

Longbons said he agreed with Benedict that discussion of a solar project should be “marked off the list (of projects) until a suitable place” is found.

Benedict also said the council should make a decision about annexing an area known as Tidewater. He said some homes there have failing septic systems and should connect to the town sewage treatment system. Property values there are declining because owners cannot get home loans with failed septics.

Council President Becky Diercks and Longbons said residents there should ask for annexation. If at least half request it, the process is much easier than if the town proposes annexation. Benedict said area residents should be informed of that and encouraged to make the request.

There also was some discussion of annexation of a nearby area north of Indiana State Road 38, where a private owner put in a sewage line connected to the town several years ago.

In other business

  • Benedict said he would be working with Gary Schuette, Heart of Hagerstown president, on local plans for the April 8, 2024, solar eclipse. LaMar has been hosting planning meetings.
  • Police Chief Keith Folkner told the council that it needs to act to correct conditions at a deteriorating vacant house. While the police enforce town codes related to property appearances, they do not have jurisdiction over building conditions. Perhaps, he said, a new ordinance is needed, handing that role to the town building commissioner.

    Council members agreed that if the town has no safe building ordinance, it should develop one. If it exists, it should be enforced, they said.
  • Folkner mentioned that people have been illegally dumping trash into a container at the town park. They’ve been caught on video and identified, he said, with photos of them posted on social media.
  • The council voted to allow the Airport Board to buy a used tractor for $14,000. Half will be paid from the airport’s budget and half by the town, to be repaid from next year’s airport budget.

Council’s next regular meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7, at City Hall, 49 E. College St. The public may attend.

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A version of this article appeared in the July 26 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Bob Hansen is a reporter for the Western Wayne News.