Board considers making Haw Creek a regulated drain

A new drainage board representing Bartholomew and Shelby counties will determine whether Haw Creek becomes a regulated drain.

The new Bartholomew-Shelby Joint Drainage Board will meet for the first time at 7 p.m. Monday in the County Council Chambers at the County Governmental Offices Building.

In addition to electing officers and appointing an attorney, the board will review a proposal from the Citizens for Haw Creek to put the creek under regulation.

In August, the citizens group announced a petition drive seeking a public hearing on regulating the creek’s watershed. The section of the watershed is about six miles long starting near East County Road 400N and running southwest until the creek reaches the East Fork White River.

The change would mean the drainage board could limit development and regulate bridges and dams in populated areas in the Haw Creek watershed. The group contends the 2008 Columbus flood, which caused nearly $500 million in damages, added sediment, trees and debris to the creek, causing it to flood more frequently. The citizens group contends the bridges over the creek are undersized and inadequate.

Bartholomew County Commissioner Carl Lienhoop will be on the new board along with Jeff Schroer representing Bartholomew County. The board also will have Kevin Nigh and Donald Parker from Shelby County, both of whom are Shelby County commissioners and drainage board members. A fifth representative from Jackson County will be named to the board at the joint meeting.

Lienhoop said he wasn’t sure if any discussion will take place about the petition at the meeting.

Before the creek can be put under a drainage board’s jurisdiction, the group needs about $10,000 to pay for postage of mailed notifications for a public hearing, said John Boldt, who is part of the Citizens for Haw Creek group. He said the group still has to raise nearly $7,000.

“We don’t have any money at this point in time other than a few hundred dollars,” he said. “The petition is still active. They’ll be waiting for us to raise the money.”

The first meeting for the new board may be just organizational and discussing what the group is thinking about doing, Lienhoop said.

“I was kind of under the impression that we weren’t going to meet until the petition was a go and they have raised enough money,” he added.

Lienhoop said he anticipates that once the petitioners have raised enough money to mail out the public hearing notifications, a meeting will be held at a venue larger than the county is familiar with using to handle the public turnout.

“I’m not sure if Memorial Gym would be big enough,” he joked.

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WHAT: Bartholomew-Shelby County Joint Drainage Board meeting

WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday

WHERE: Bartholomew County Government Office Building Council Chambers, 440 Third St., Columbus