From the Mayors Desk

It is a true honor to be able to serve as your mayor. I am also very fortunate and blessed to have a wonderful wife who supported me without hesitation as I pursued this opportunity. I look forward to fulfilling my obligations to the City of Seymour and serving its citizens to the very best of my ability.
By now, I suspect that most of you have recovered from the effects of blizzard Evelyn and are welcoming the arrival of spring. I want to thank Director John Schoen and the entire city crew for their tireless efforts throughout the blizzard. They worked endlessly throughout the three day snow event to keep the main city streets passable despite Evelyn’s determination to thwart their efforts. As was the case for our surrounding communities, clearing over 2 feet of snow from city streets is extremely challenging. Despite those challenges, the city crew persevered and did their very best to stay ahead of Evelyn. Gentlemen, thank you.
As you may already know, there have been a few changes with council and board appointments. I’d like to extend a special welcome to Aldermen Kinney and Hurkman. Alderman Ryan Kinney was elected to represent Wards 3 and 4. Alderman Steve Hurkman was appointed to my vacated seat representing Wards 1 & 2. His appoint was unanimously approved by the council. After many years of service to the City of Seymour, TJ Landwehr has resigned from Plan Commission as he will be moving out of the city this summer. Thank you, TJ, for your countless years of service to the City of Seymour. I have appointed Pudge Schuh to Plan Commission to fill the seat vacated by TJ Landwehr. Mr. Schuh is well respected throughout the community and his extensive development knowledge will serve the Plan Commission extremely well. Pudge will join Mike Keyzers, Pete Krabbe, Pam Zak, Director John Schoen, Alderman Blohm and myself on the Plan Commission.
We also had two vacancies on the Board of Appeals. Ryan Kinney’s seat was vacated upon his election as Alderman for Wards 3 and 4, and Todd Eick requested that his appointment not be renewed as he pursues other interests. Thank you, Todd, for your years of service to the community. I have appointed Cody Vanderheiden and Dale ‘Corky’ Dethardt to fill these two vacancies. Cody and Dale bring utility and construction knowledge to the Board of Appeals which will be of tremendous value when the board is reviewing variance and special exception requests. Cody and Dale will join Cathy Krull, Gary Melchert, and Ed Vandenlangenberg on the Board of Appeals.
The ACN published an article last week that outlined my progressive vision for Seymour. That vision rests on these key priorities: residential development, industrial development, modernization of city infrastructure, creating a common network for key city facilities, and better management of our green space areas (parks). Any investment considered by the council into these priorities will be done in a fiscally responsible and sustainable manner to insure that the return exceeds the upfront costs.
In this week’s article, I will be covering two priorities – residential and industrial development. So, where do we begin? Well, to quote Coach Collar, we need to “plan our work and work our plan”. To get us started, we are transforming the way in which we leverage the expertise of the individuals on our Plan Commission. Historically, Plan Commission has met sporadically and reactively to potential development opportunities, to review variance requests, approve survey maps, or to address other zoning matters. In addition to still supporting these needs, the Plan Commission will also start meeting monthly to reevaluate the Comprehensive Plan that was adopted by the city council in December of 2009. Our Comprehensive Plan was compiled with the assistance of Martenson & Eisele and is intended to serve as a blueprint for the future of Seymour through the year 2030. The plan itself contains a wealth of demographic and housing data, population growth projections, income and employment characteristics, economic development plans, and agricultural resources that surround our city. In addition, the plan contains referential material such as existing and future land use maps, zoning maps, environmental characteristics (e.g., waterways and flood plains), transportation and utility expansion plans, and information regarding the extra-territorial areas surrounding the City of Seymour. Our zoning ordinances and land use categories then act as the guardrails for directing our future growth opportunities as outlined in the Comprehensive Plan.
The Plan Commission will be working through the Comprehensive Plan in great detail and leveraging the guidance it provides to assess which areas of the city represent the best opportunities for future development taking into consideration key drivers such as zoning, land and utility availability, infrastructure needs, and acquisition costs. Our goal is to identify multiple development sites and to stratify those options based on these key drivers. The Plan Commission will then make recommendations to the city council for further review and discussion so they can be acted upon as best determined by the council.
Why would we go through this effort when, alternatively, we could just passively wait to be approached by a developer? Seldom do opportunities just present themselves. Rather, we need to cultivate an environment that is inherently attractive to good development opportunities that we are prepared to capitalize on. This new construction drives increased tax and utility revenues, which is important because our sewer and water utilities are operated as a revenue generating business. Sustainability of this utility business is much easier when we have incremental revenue growth year over year.
I would be remised if I didn’t share with you that these priorities are aggressive. However, I firmly believe that the city is well positioned to accomplish these tasks. You have a phenomenal group of individuals serving on your city council who share these same priorities and vision. They are well informed and work collaboratively for the betterment of the city. In addition, we have very capable and knowledgeable department heads. These individuals bring suggestions, ideas, and relevant information to their respective committees so that decisions can be made effectively and strategically.
I’m excited about the next few years. As a team, we will lay the foundation that enables us to pivot to growth.