Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Burns Harbor BZA being sued by its own Town Council

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The Burns Harbor Board of Zoning Appeals will meet in closed executive session tonight at 6:30 p.m. to discuss a lawsuit filed last week challenging its Aug. 24 approval allowing an expansion of CR England’s trucking operations.

At 7 p.m. the BZA will convene its regular public monthly meeting at the town hall with business related to finalizing the England petition’s paperwork on the agenda.

Plaintiffs in the appeal are the Burns Harbor Town Council, residents Herminio and Andrea Soto, and 10 town businesses including the Lake Shore and Arnell auto dealerships, Camp Land Inc., a corporation tied to The Village in Burns Harbor subdivision and Fast Coffee Services Inc.

The appeal seeks to have the Aug. 24 approvals reversed and the England petition remanded back to the BZA with instructions that the Utah-based company’s zoning requests be denied.

Named as defendants are the BZA; CR England Inc.; William J. Brant Jr. & Associates, developer of Tech Business Center where England is located; and Robert Poparad and Maria Poparad, who own the property where England won permission to build a 250 semi-truck parking lot and guardhouses west of Indiana 149 south of Tech Drive.

Attorneys from Ice Miller LLP in Indianapolis represent the Town Council and co-plaintiffs. The appeal has been assigned to Porter Superior Court Judge Mary Harper. Associate town attorney Charles Parkinson represented the BZA during its consideration of the England petition but it’s not known if he will represent the BZA for the appeal. Today, Parkinson declined comment on the litigation.

England’s local attorney, Terry Hiestand of Chesterton, said of the lawsuit, “I think it’s contrary to any precedents I’m aware of and we will be responding with a motion to that effect.”

The property England plans to use for the parking expansion is in the Special Use District 6 (light industrial) zoning district and Ice Miller said the Burns Harbor zoning ordinance stipulates site expansion within each Special Use District shall require a rezoning. For that reason the appeal alleges England erred in asking for a special exception for a freight terminal, which the BZA approved on a 3-2 vote with several conditions, to be reviewed tonight, imposed on that approval.

Among the conditions is that England cannot begin operations at the new parking facility until a traffic signal is installed and operational at the Indiana 149/Tech Drive intersection.

Hiestand said the England petition was filed seeking a special exception because Table 12-1 provides for a freight terminal in a SD6 zone with a special exception. No one with the town ever told England its petition was not filed properly, said Hiestand, and “England provided everything the BZA told them to go out and get.”

The Ice Miller appeal also maintains a freight terminal was the incorrect use for the BZA to consider because it is defined in the zoning ordinance as “Terminals with the capability of handling a large variety of goods involving various forms of transportation and providing multimodal shipping capabilities, such as rail to truck or truck to air".

The entirely new Burns Harbor zoning ordinance was drafted, reviewed and adopted in less than six months last year facing a June 30 deadline or risk losing a $100,000 grant that financed the ordinance and a new comprehensive plan. An additional $100,000 in zoning studies also were done by consultant SEH.

In other BZA business, tonight the board will conduct a public hearing for Salvador Velez-Vera, who is seeking a developmental standard variance to erect a 24-foot by 40-foot pole barn for personal storage at 359 Melton Rd. (U.S. 20) in an RC-2 zone.


Posted 9/29/2010




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