Council to host public forum on business registry

FORTVILLE — Residents and business owners have one more chance to voice their concerns about a proposed business registry.

At a meeting this week, town council members scheduled a public forum for 6 p.m. Dec. 21 at town hall on the topic, which has proved controversial among business owners. Community members are invited to address the council with concerns and questions about the registry.

For weeks, town officials have been trying to establish a business registry they say would include business names, addresses, phone numbers and information about what services the business offers. But the proposal caused a stir when they considered a penalty for businesses that decline to provide that information.

Some information included on the registry would be for public access on the town website; other information would be kept private for town use, such as personal phone numbers of business owners to contact them in case of emergencies, such as water leaks or gas main problems. The registry also could be used to verify zoning on properties and provide information to those interested in locating a business in Fortville, officials said.

The council asked for input from the local business community; so far, feedback has been mixed. Some business owners cited too much government interference in their private matters.

Council member Robert Holland said there was no rush to establish the registry, and while he supports it, he would prefer giving business owners more time to ask questions and express their concerns before the council moves forward.

“I don’t think it’s a bad idea,” Holland said. “I want to make sure it’s done right.”

He suggested forming a committee to further look into the proposal or at least being prepared to schedule several forums to give as many people as possible a chance to discuss it.

Council members Janet Manship and Bill Hiday said they also supported giving folks another chance to speak about the registry before taking action to implement it, but they want to make sure the process isn’t drawn out for too long.

“Well, how many do you want to have?” Manship asked. “Because we’ve had this on the agenda multiple times; we’ve had a few people speak about it.”

Holland said the council should take the time to make sure it gathers input from all parties before making a final decision about how to implement the business registry.

“There doesn’t need to be a rush on it,” Holland said. “I don’t know what the hurry is.”

Council member Tim Hexamer said he walked down Broadway and Main streets to survey how businesses in the area felt about the registry. He said not one person he spoke to was opposed, provided the registry was created on a volunteer basis.

There would be no fee for businesses to register, but officials have discussed an ordinance that would require businesses to register and fine those that didn’t comply.

Renner plans to contact the chamber of commerce and other business organizations to spread the word about the public forum.

Have your say

The Fortville Town Council will hold a public forum on a proposed business registry at 6 p.m. Dec. 21 at town hall, 714 E. Broadway St.

Business and community members are invited to speak in favor or against a proposal to establish a registry that would compile business information for the town’s website and records.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.