Butchers withdraw complaint about boat ramp in Lagro

By Joseph Slacian

Glenn and Sheila Butcher, who have spearheaded the group Concerned Citizens and Landowners United’s efforts against Wabash River Trail’s proposed 33-mile bike trail, are dropping their complaint about a boat ramp in Lagro.

The Butchers, in a letter to The Paper of Wabash County on Monday afternoon, wrote, “We will be releasing the DNR Hearing on the boat ramp in Lagro, since it is complete and has beautified Lagro, and we plan on using it in the future.”

They said the ramp and associated projects – public restrooms and a new pavilion in downtown Lagro “have improved the appearance of Lagro,” Indiana.”

The ramp, located just east of State Road 524 in downtown Lagro, was put by WRT with work starting in December 2016. The work began without WRT having received proper permits from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The DNR, earlier this year, approved after-the-fact permits. That prompted the initial complaint from the Butchers and the group.

“We feel Wabash County Commissioners and WRT are now aware of projects that pertain to flood plain areas will need plans submitted to the building commission prior to construction, and that proper permits need to be acquired before work begins from IDEM, DNR, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” the Butchers wrote. “Property owners permission needs to be asked for and a signed lease agreement (obtained) when working in flood plain area.”

In addition, they said, rights of way from Duke Energy and INDOT need to approved before work begins, not after the fact.

“We want to protect the Wabash River and make sure drainage issues are addressed to protect agriculture land,” the couple wrote. “The DNR addressed the erosion problems at the boat ramp and made sure the right vegetation was applied.”

While the Butchers have dropped the complaint about the boat ramp, they are keeping in place a complaint about a proposed pedestrian bridge over Lagro Creek.

“We will be keeping the DNR hearing for the bridge crossing at Lagro Creek in hopes to preserve the historical Kerr Lock No. 14 tow path, steps where the Wabash Erie Canal workers entered in and off the canal boats to use tow path to walk with mules to pull canal boats through the locks,” they wrote. “Lagro was Miami Indian land, part of Act of Congress 1824 for Canal Land, 1826 Miami Treaty, from canal to rails Indiana Service Corp deed rail land back to land owners in 1941-1942 Lagro is full of rich history.”

A DNR hearing on the matter scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 8, was postponed for the third time.

Mark Frantz, attorney for Wabash River Trail, withheld comment on the matter Monday, noting that nothing has been filed yet with the DNR to withdraw the complaint.

The Butchers reiterated that they are not against development in Lagro, nor are they against those who enjoy riding bicycles.

“We are not anti-bike, anti-economics, nor anti-Lagro development we just want the proper process followed to protect private property owner, public safety and security, environmental impact, and historical (preservation),” they wrote. “We asked Wabash River Trail to sign an agreement that they would agree to do these things into the future but they are unwilling to do that, so as concerned citizens and landowners we will continue to watch, listen and act if needed to assure the right organizations are notified to make sure Wabash County, Indiana, state and federal laws are adhered to.”

Frantz did respond to the allegation that WRT officials declined to sign the agreement.

"The Butchers offered a proposal to settle the appeal of the DNR's boat launch permit that would have required the Wabash River Trail to act in a way that could be construed as a violation of the Internal Revenue Code, which would put the Wabash River Trail's tax exempt status at risk,” he said. “While we could not agree to such a proposal, the Wabash River Trail will follow the proper process set forth by law for the application and issuance of all required permits."

Posted on 2017 Nov 14