Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Alcohol expansion in state parks on NRC agenda July 19 in Indianapolis

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The agenda for the July 19 Indiana Natural Resources Commission meeting may be found at http://in.gov/nrc/2354.htm

 

By KEVIN NEVERS

Citizens will have one last chance to voice their feelings about a new law which forces the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (IATC) to issue the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) three-way permits on behalf of its state parks.

At 10 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday, July 19, in the Garrison Ballroom of the Fort Harrison State Park Inn, 6002 N. Post Road in Indianapolis, the DNR will present to the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) its “intention for the service of alcohol on certain state properties,” as the NRC’s meeting agenda puts it.

DNR Director of Communications Phil Bloom emphasized, in an e-mail to the Chesterton Tribune sent after deadline on Monday, that under the proposal the DNR would go to IATC for three-way permits not only for Indiana Dunes State ParkÑwhere Pavilion Partners LLC plans to build a banquet center adjacent to a renovated PavilionÑbut also for the seven state parks which presently have inns on their property: Brown County, Clifty Falls, Fort Harrison, McCormick’s Creek, Pokagon, Spring Mill, and Turkey Run. The DNR is also interested in securing a three-way for the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

“At Brown County, for instance, the proposed footprint is Abe Martin Lodge, a couple of shelter houses, and one other location,” Bloom told the Tribune. “It’s similar at other parks.”

“It’s important to note,” Bloom said, “this was never intended to be an Indiana Dunes State Park-only alcohol bill. Instead, it allows the DNR to better respond to our customers’ interests at a number of state parks where alcohol service can be managed efficiently for weddings, receptions, banquets, and other special events.”

Even with alcohol service at the Pavilion and a banquet center, however, Dunes State Park would “still have the most restrictive conditions of any park in the state,” Bloom added. That is to say, alcohol would continue to be prohibited on the beach, in the campground, and at all other locations in the park.

Alcohol service would only begin at Dunes State Park at such time as Pavilion Partners actually opens the Pavilion for restaurant dining, which means, Bloom noted, that “there will be no change at Indiana Dunes this season.”

The meeting on July 19 is not listed on the NRC’s agenda as a public hearing but rather as an “Information Item” and technically the DNR is not obligated to take comments or remonstration on its alcohol proposal. “Although that’s not required by the new law, it is something the DNR said during a legislative hearing would be done,” Bloom said. “The DNR will consider guidance from the Commission and the public comments when applying to the ATC for the state park alcohol permit.”

The NRC is a 12-member “autonomous board that addresses issues pertaining to the Department of Natural Resources,” according to its website. Its members include six citizens appointed on a bipartisan basis; DNR Director Cameron Clark; Indiana Office of Tourism Development Mark Newman; Patrick Early, chair of the Natural Resources Advisory Council; and Donald Ruch, an appointee of the Indiana Academy of Sciences.

Emergency Rule

One thing which Bloom did not discuss in his e-mail is an “Emergency Rule” posted by the Legislative Services Agency (LSA) on July 7Ñsix days after the new law took effectÑwhich temporarily amends 312 Indiana Administrative Code 8-2-5 so as “to allow the consumption or possession of an alcoholic beverage at Indiana Dunes State Park as authorized by IC 7.1-3-17.8 or IC 14-18-2-3.”

As of deadline today, Bloom had not responded to an inquiry from the Tribune, but it would appear that the Emergency Rule was deemed necessary because 312 IAC 8-2-5 prohibited the possession or consumption of alcohol at every location at Dunes State Park “except on the licensed premises of a pavilion”; because, in other words, it made no provision for alcohol service at a banquet center.

For the record, what the new law technically does is amend IC 7.1-3-17.8, which forces IATC to issue three-way permits to the DNR without public notice or investigation by the local ABC; without regard to quota provisions; without a “determination of reputation and character”; and without “consideration of location,” that is, irrespective of whether there is a need for such services at the location of the permit, whether there is a desire in the neighborhood or community “to receive such services,” and whether such services will have an impact on the community or on other business in the community.”

IC 14-18-2-3, on the other hand, provides for the properties and the conditions under which a lessee or a concessionaire may serve alcohol at DNR properties. It includes “a pavilion located within Indiana Dunes State Park, and within 100 feet of the pavilion and the pavilion parking lot.”

 

Posted 7/12/2016

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

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