Hillsboro City Council president Tom Eichinger, left, and safety and service director Brianne Abbott are pictured during a virtual meeting April 14.
Hillsboro City Council president Tom Eichinger, left, and safety and service director Brianne Abbott are pictured during a virtual meeting April 14.
In their second meeting of the week, Hillsboro City Council members convened over Zoom Wednesday, April 14, where they approved a real estate transfer ordinance and three other items of legislation.

As previously reported, two members of council were absent from the regular monthly meeting Monday, April 12. Council president Tom Eichinger said council would have to hold a special meeting to consider two ordinances and two resolutions on the original Monday night agenda, as there were not enough members to suspend the three-reading rule.

During Wednesday night’s virtual meeting, council voted unanimously to suspend the three-reading rule and to approve and adopt all four items of legislation introduced, beginning with “an ordinance to authorize receipt of gifted real estate, purchase of real estate and transfer of real estate to the Community Improvement Corporation.”

Through that ordinance, the city “gratefully accepts” a “gift of real property” — the parcels formerly housing Highland Enterprise on West Main Street, whose owner asked to remain anonymous.

Highland Enterprise Lumber Company closed in April 2010 after 137 years in operation. In January 2012, the building was destroyed in a fire, which was later determined to be arson.

According to the legislation, the donation to the city includes “Auditor Parcel Nos. 25-26-001-019, 25-26-001-020, and 25-26-001-003, with a fair market value of $5,700, $33,700 and $59,600, respectively.”

“First off, I’d just like to publicly state that this is a very generous donation,” safety and service director Brianne Abbott said. “We’re very grateful for the opportunity.”

In addition, council voted through this ordinance for a $200,000 increase in appropriations to the Economic Development line item “from unencumbered carryover for the purpose of real property purchases.”

The ordinance “authorizes and directs the safety and service director” to purchase Parcel Nos. 25-26-001-001, 25-26-001-002, 25-26-001-029, 25-26-001-028, 25-26-001-027-00, 25-26-001-027.01, 25-26-001-026, 25-26-001-025 and 25-26-001-024 for $200,000. These parcels have a separate owner.

A fourth section of the ordinance stipulates that one of those parcels — 25-26-001-024 — will be subsequently transferred from the CIC to the donor of the Highland Enterprise properties.

Abbott asked council to consider passing the ordinance Wednesday to both “accept the donation” and to ensure that the other parcels are not purchased by another buyer.

“With the purchase of the property, I would hate to lose that property if we wait the three readings, you know, if another offer came to the table or whatever the case may be,” Abbott said. “That would be the reason for acting on it tonight.”

There was no discussion from council prior to suspending the three-reading rule and approving the ordinance, 7-0.

Also approved Wednesday were:

• An ordinance to supplement and correct an ordinance passed in May 2020 regarding zoning on Harry Sauner and Careytown roads, which passed as an emergency. The revised ordinance approved Wednesday includes additional “parcels omitted by clerical error.”

These parcels, 25-10-200-249.01, 25-10-000-249.12, 25-10-000249.18 and 25-60-000-223.00, are now zoned Business C, following passage of the ordinance. They were previously zoned Industrial E.

In May 2020, council heard three readings of the ordinance to amend portions of the zoning code and to amend the zoning map. At that time, the ordinance included parcels at 231, 251, 271, 400, 500, 510, 514, 520, 530, 540, 575, 581, 585, 589, 599, 609, 619 and 704 Harry Sauner Road and 100, 110, 120, 130, 140 and 160 Roberts Lane. A joint public hearing between council and the Hillsboro Planning Commission was held prior to council’s March 2020 meeting.

“When it was initially rezoned, it was just a miss, a clerical error,” Abbott said.

• A resolution to authorize the safety and service director to bid, and accept the lowest and best bid, for a proposed street paving project for North East Street from Collins Avenue to state Route 138.

“It is necessary for this to be suspended for the three-reading rule just due to time constraints for getting it out for bid, accepting the bid and getting the paving complete while the weather is still going to allow us to do so,” Abbott said.

Eichinger said that this portion of North East Street “has not been able to get funding in the last two years,” although another section of the street has already been paved.

“That is correct,” Abbott said. “This particular section has not qualified for funding.”

Council member Greg Maurer asked if the city had “any idea what it’s going to cost.”

“I don’t have a cost estimate on that,” Abbott said. “That’s actually part of the reason we are putting it out for bid. We have some money budgeted for street paving, and we’re very hopeful that we’re able to do it.”

• A resolution to authorize the safety and service director to accept a bid for a 2021 single-axle snow and ice control truck, not to exceed $190,000.

At their March meeting, Abbott told council that they would be considering legislation for equipment for the street department the following month, as “their current trucks are often breaking down.”

“This will be for the replacement of a one-ton, single-axle snow and ice control vehicle,” Abbott said Wednesday. “Our current truck is a 1996, and it’s showing its age.”

Council member Patty Day asked if the city had budgeted for this purchase.

“A vehicle was budgeted for,” Abbott said. “We actually have an older vehicle that we intended to replace, but now that we had the problems with the snow plow this last snow season, this vehicle will actually be the one that will be replaced, so it is in our budget.”

Abbott again cited time constraints for the reason they wanted to suspend the three-reading rule.

“I know it’s April, but by the time we get this ordered and in, we need to be ready for the next season of snow and ice,” she said.