Economic Development Director gives input
Milan Council discusses future growth

Cindy DiFazio, Staff Writer

The Milan Town Council met in regular session on Monday, March 12. Council Members, Paul Hildebrand and Robert Branigan were present. Matt Huffman was not in attendance. Town Marshal Gary Skaggs, Town Clerk Gladys Moody, and Town Attorney Larry Eaton were also present. Town Manager, John Ingram, was on vacation.

Ripley County Economic Development Director Brad Buening introduced himself to the council. Buening was there with Milan property owner, Covell Mills. He passed out aerial pictures of Milan, noting that only two areas are currently zoned industrial. Mills has property he would like to make available to the town and is asking for support from the council for a rezone. Mills told council members, “I want to be pro-active, not reactive.”

Buening told council members that site selection people employed by industry wanting property in the area look for land that is already zoned industrial and shovel-ready. “They will look at other places if it’s not ready to go. If it’s already zoned general business or industrial, the property becomes more marketable,” Buening explained.

Council President, Paul Hildebrand told Buening and Mills that the council will gladly get behind a rezoning push once they have some idea of what the intended use of the property will be. Buening asked, “What are your projections for growth for Milan?” Hildebrand stated that the council is hesitant to back any building of new businesses only to see them fail. He also expressed doubt that the planning commission would rezone without an idea of what’s going to go in there. Mills stated his opinion that, “Planning will go along with Milan’s wishes because it would be a pro-active move.” Buening rejoined, “If he has support from the town, it gives credibility to his zoning request.” Larry Eaton agreed stating, “It needs to be zoned now.”

Hildebrand asked, “Will it be a Super Wal-Mart? Little streets with storefronts? As a town we’ve been looking at some type of industry.” Mills responded, “They’ll do market studies to see what businesses are feasible.” Mills went on to say that he does not think that heavy industrial would be right for the location, which is close to Ripley Crossing Healthcare facilities. Hildebrand also reminded them, “I have a whole slew of buildings downtown that are unoccupied. We don’t have the population to support a mini-mall.” Council Members Robert Branigan asked, “What if we blanket approve this thing now, and then later when it doesn’t work, future councils are asked, 'Who approved that?’” Buening admitted that it’s kind of the chicken-and-the-egg situation, but cautioned, “Batesville, Osgood, and Versailles are beefing up their property holdings.”

A few property use ideas that were received well were doctor or dentist offices or possibly a drugstore. All agreed that small industry would be a good fit. Both Hildebrand and Branigan stated that while they had no objections to other businesses, “you’ve got to have people to support business.”
Buening and Mills told the council that they would conceptualize ideas and re-present to the Milan group. Buening assured, “You will get what you’re looking for.”

Marshal Skaggs reported the following for the month of February:
• 1 residential burglary
• 2 theft reports
• 2 theft arrests
• 1 OWI
• 1 public intoxication
• 2 traffic arrests
• 15 traffic warnings
• 2 traffic crashes with injury
• 2 traffic crashes with property damage
• 3 dog complaints
• 54 calls for service
• 10 assists to other agencies
• 3 assists to fire and EMS
• 82.5 reserve officer hours.

In other business, Park Board President Doug Price said that the park board had met and set some priorities:
• To get the ball fields in the back ready for baseball/softball season.
• Clean up concrete at the back of the park.
• Meet with the Osgood Beautification Committee.

Roselyn McKittrick asked if street signs could be straightened. She also reported a deep pothole in the concrete on Carr Street.

In new business, a software contract with Keystone and the Rescue 30 emergency services contract was signed.


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