The Burns Harbor Advisory Plan Commission has spoken: no more freight
terminals except in the lone heavy-industrial zoning district at
Now it will be up to the Town Council to decide whether to follow that
recommendation and delete “freight terminal” as a permitted use with a
special exception in three other zoning districts. A use variance still
could be sought.
Two people tied to a lawsuit over the last freight-terminal request that was
denied Aug. 24 remonstrated against the zoning change at Monday’s Plan
Commission public hearing. No one spoke in favor.
A lawsuit was filed last month against the town Board of Zoning Appeals by
the Town Council and 10 local businesses hoping to overturn BZA approval of
a 250 semi-truck parking lot as a “freight terminal” expansion of CR
England’s current operations.
England’s attorney, Terry Hiestand, and developer Jeff Brant, in whose Tech
Business Center England is located, commented Monday.
Plan Commission attorney Chuck Parkinson emphasized that any variances or
special exceptions currently in place would remain legal and not be affected
by the freight-terminal change. He noted the reason for the change,
initiated by the Plan Commission, is to have less-intensive truck use in
Hiestand said the proposed zoning amendment would deny the economic reality
of today while waiting for a rosy vision of Burns Harbor outlined in its new
comprehensive plan. Property owners would be denied the highest and best use
of their land based on plans that may never materialize, he added.
“The Plan Commission and the Town Council need to be mindful of measures
which consign properties to economic limbo on the off chance that current
aspiration rhetoric might bear fruit forty to fifty years from now,” said
Hiestand in a written statement. “Saying you believe in sugar plum fairies
doesn’t mean they exist.”
Brant said truck traffic is part of a viable community providing needed
employment and a solid tax base. “I don’t see any need for passing the
ordinance in front of you now.”
Commission member and town marshal Jerry Price said, “I don’t hear anything
about the safety of people who go up and down those roadways.” And as for
adding parking for 250 more trucks? “We not only have way too many as we
speak; we certainly don’t need any more,” Price continued.
He said Sept. 21 he counted 74 tractor-trailers entering and leaving Tech
Drive at Indiana 149 between 7:35 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. “I believe we have more
than enough,” including those operating for England’s semi-truck driving
school, added Price.
Commission president Jeff Freeze said the steel processing plants located in
Tech Business Center won’t be affected by a future freight-terminal
Commission and BZA member Terry Swanson said, “If this puts us more in line
with the master plan and other parts of the zoning ordinance, I’ll go for
it. Less inconsistency.”
Vote was 5-1 to recommend the freight-terminal change to the Town Council.
Commission and council member Jim McGee was absent; Price voted no but later
said he erred and meant to vote yes.
The Town Council next meets Oct. 13 and could consider the Plan Commission’s