Open records decision regarding tower cites conflicting evidence

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By Shannon Brock

Conflicting information submitted to the Attorney General regarding a Spencer County open records appeal resulted in an open records decision that is hardly a decision at all.
In the decision, released April 30, Assistant Attorney General Amye L. Bensenhaver states that “the conflicting evidentiary record in this appeal precludes conclusive resolution of this question.”
The question was submitted by Spencer Countian Lawrence Trageser who believes the state’s Open Records Act was violated when he was declined access to “any record or document reflecting the counties [sic] petition for a building permit relating to the tower construction at Fairgrounds Rd.,” the decision says.
Responding to Trageser’s request, Judge-Executive Bill Karrer said that “[a] permit for the referenced tower is not a legal requirement, therefore, no permit exists.”
To back up his request, Trageser submitted a “computer version” of the unsigned application for a building permit for the tower, a signed application for a building permit for the utility building at the tower site, and a letter from Planning and Zoning Administrator Julie Sweazy addressed to fiscal court and Karrer “requesting the return of information submitted to her office on November 14, 2012, ‘pertaining to a radio tower and a utility building to be located at 843 Fairgrounds Road’ that was ‘retrieved’ by Judge Karrer,” according to a footnote in the decision.
Karrer “asserted that documentation submitted by Mr. Trageser to support Mr. Trageser’s claim that a permit application exists or existed was fraudlent,” the decision says.
Trageser claims at least three county officials, including Sweazy, confirmed the existence of the documentation, the decision says.
“Under these circumstances, we can do little more than admonish the party advancing the spurious claim, yet we have no basis to determine who between the parties is worthy of admonishment,” the decision reads.
If what Trageser alleges is correct, then the “appeal presents serious issues of statutory noncompliance that may be appropriate for review by prosecutorial authorities,” the decision says.
If Trageser falsified documents, as Karrer alleges, “this appeal presents equally serious issues of abuse of an administrative process justifying the judge-executive’s denial of Mr. Trageser’s request,” the decision says.
Describing the relations between Trageser and some Spencer County officials as “strained,” the “fundamental dispute cannot be settled in an open records appeal.”
“Given the gaping factual disparity between Mr. Trageser’s letter of appeal and Judge Karrer’s response, we cannot resolve the issue presented in favor or against either party,” the decision reads.
The decision does note that no error is assigned to Sweazy or the Planning and Zoning Commission, since Karrer took the responsibility of responding to Trageser’s request.

Tower anchors undergo remediation work
Reading a letter “floating around” from Whitaker 2 Architects in Shelbyville, during Monday night’s Fiscal Court meeting, Karrer addressed a professional opinion that the concrete used in the construction of the county’s radio tower should have been reinforced and that “without reinforcing steel the concrete’s resistance to tensile and shearing forces is compromised and could result in future problems.”
The letter was signed by R. Scott Whitaker, an architect who issued a professional opinion at the request of local building inspector Steve Clark.
Karrer also read part of a lengthy report from Qk4, an engineering company from Louisville.
That report was commissioned by Antennas Unlimited, the company that installed the county’s antenna.
While the report did not say the tower was installed incorrectly, it did say that without digging up the anchors poured for the tower — which was not recommended — it was nearly impossible to know if an appropriate type or amount of concrete was used.
Because of this, the report recommended additional concrete be added to three anchorage points at the tower to make sure the amount was sufficient.
This work was completed Monday by Antennas Unlimited with oversight from Qk4, Karrer said.
The Qk4 study, as well as the additional work, was completed at the expense of Antennas Unlimited and not at the expense of the the county, Karrer said.
For more information on this topic, see next week’s edition of The Spencer Magnet.