Chesterton Tribune



State upholds local ABC, quashes Pavilion Partners liquor application

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Pavilion Partners LLC won’t be getting its liquor license from the state either.

By unanimous vote this morning, the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ATC) upheld the Porter County Alcohol Beverage Commission’s 3-1 decision on Sept. 10 to reject the LLC’s application for a permit to serve alcohol at Indiana Dunes State Park, at the re-modeled Pavilion on the beach and an affiliated banquet center.

ATC Vice-Chair David Coleman told the Chesterton Tribune that he and his three colleagues considered the matter of Pavilion Partners for around 20 minutes. “We reviewed the evidence previously submitted and concluded that the local board’s decision was not arbitrary or capricious,” he said.

Coleman noted that Pavilion Partners has the option to appeal the ATC’s ruling. Should the LLC’s principal, Chuck Williams, choose to do so, the ATC would assign an administrative law judge to hear the appeal. “Then, depending on the judge’s ruling, it could go to a trial court,” Coleman said.

Coleman added that he’s been a member of the ATC for around nine months and in that time no one, to his knowledge, has appealed an ATC ruling.

“We are very pleased that the state commission upheld the decision of the local board to keep Dunes State Park alcohol free, and hope this signals the beginning of the end for these inappropriate plans,” said Desi Robertson in a statement released by Dunes Action shortly after the ATC’s vote. “The Pavilion is in great need of restoration but alcohol isn’t needed for that to happen. The commission recognized that this is a family beach and that safe, outdoor recreation is what it’s all about.”

Dunes Action noted in its statement that ATC Chair David Cook, in upholding the ABC’s decision, specifically cited “the importance of the local community and neighborhood.”

Dunes Action also noted that Pavilion Partners has 15 days to file an appeal and that the organization is preparing for that possibility.

“If they appeal, we think we will prevail again,” said Norman Hellmers, co-chair of the Dunes Action Alcohol Committee. “Pavilion Partners simply did not make their case, and neither did the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.”

“You would think all the other state parks are swimming in alcohol, the way the DNR has represented it, and we’ve shown that simply isn’t true,” Hellmers also said. “Denying alcohol at this park will not hurt its popularity in any way. It is currently one of the top ten parks in the country, without serving alcohol, and that won’t change.”

The permit sought by Pavilion Partners would have allowed the service of liquor on both of the Pavilion’s floors, on its rooftop, and--during special events--within 100 feet of the building and parking lot.

The ABC originally dead-locked on the issue on June 11, voting 2-2. The LLC’s application then went to the ATC, which on July 21--after receiving not quite 300 emails opposing the application--bounced it back to the ABC with the direction to hold another public hearing, in a larger venue and at a better time, to accommodate a crowd.

The ABC held that hearing on Sept. 10 at the Porter County Expo Center and, after listening to several hours of public comment, one member--Ralph Levi--changed his original Yea vote to a Nay. Also voting against the application, as they had the first time: Rudy Sutton and Edward Fritz. Voting in favor of it, as he had the first time: Indiana Excise Officer Jamie Patrick.


Posted 10/6/2015




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