During a special meeting Thursday, the Burns Harbor Board of Zoning Appeals
hired attorney Brian Hurley of Valparaiso to represent the BZA in pending
He will defend the board in an appeal brought by the Burns Harbor Town
Council and others challenging the BZA’s 3-2 Aug. 24 decision allowing a 250
semi-truck parking lot expansion of CR England’s Midwest regional truck
terminal on Tech Drive.
Hurley formerly served as the attorney for both the Porter County Plan
Commission and the county Board of Zoning Appeals. He also successfully
appealed on behalf of C&C Development when earlier this year a Porter
Superior Court overturned the Town of Porter Plan Commission’s 2008 denial
of a C&C replat of a portion of Hunters Glen subdivision.
The firm of Harris, Welsh and Lukmann represents the Town of Burns Harbor
including the council and BZA but has recused itself from participating in
the England appeal.
The Town Council last month hired Ice Miller LLP, one of the most prominent
law firms in the state, for the BZA appeal but on Wednesday the council
declined to state how much Ice Miller is being paid. The council agreed to
appropriate an initial $5,000 for BZA legal fees tied to the appeal.
Thursday, BZA president Terry Swanson said the lawyers he talked to
generally quoted an approximately $200 per hour fee, and that Hurley spent
more time than others discussing the BZA’s situation with him.
BZA member Gordon McCormick said member Amy Zehner, who was absent, had
inquired about hiring Baker & Daniels law firm at a range of $185 to $390
per hour. Also well-known in Indiana, the firm has offices in Indianapolis,
Chicago, Washington D.C., Fort Wayne, South Bend and Beijing.
Swanson stressed the BZA has a Monday deadline to show cause why it
shouldn’t turn over its record of the England petition to Porter Superior
Court Judge Mary Harper for judicial review. BZA secretary Tyler DeMar said
he has the documentation ready if directed to provide it.
Swanson said for the BZA’s part the question appears to be, “Did we follow
procedure or not follow procedure?”
Ice Miller alleges England should have sought a rezoning, not a special
exception. England attorney Terry Hiestand has said no one from the town
advised them to do that and the special exception was heard.
Swanson said the BZA needs legal representation now and if at some point the
board wishes to engage another attorney, it can be considered at that time.
The vote Thursday to hire Hurley was 3-0 with member Bernie Poparad joining
Swanson and McCormick. Member Gene Weibl was absent in addition to Zehner.