Chesterton Tribune


Burns Harbor council tackles consultant fees, zoning fine, makes appointments

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The Burns Harbor Town Council took under advisement three proposals for 2013 engineering services Wednesday and asked the Advisory Plan Commission to review the town’s policy that charges applicants for the consultant fees their projects require.

Sometimes the legal, engineering or financial fees are minimal and easy to estimate yet sometimes, like for the ArcelorMittal tax-abatement extension request, they are significant and difficult to predict, said town attorney Bob Welsh.

In other business, the council asked Welsh to confer with building commissioner Bill Arney about starting condemnation proceedings over an abandoned bank-owned home at 1252 Westport Rd. that Arney described as very unsafe and a danger to the public.

Welsh also was asked to meet with Arney and town marshal Michael Heckman about taking action to recover fines against Scott’s Way that were authorized under a previous ruling upheld last month by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

December, 2011 Porter Superior Court Judge David Chidester entered an injunction and restraining order barring William Scott d/b/a Scott’s Way from continued operation of a truck terminal and dispatch operation. Doing so subjects Scott to a $1,000 per-day fine.

Town officials said they believe they can document such operations have continued at 277 Melton Rd. Said Welsh of the potential fine, “Whatever it might be, it could be salty.”

Liaisons named, members chosen

The council elected officers last month and last night made appointments.

President Jim McGee, long-time liaison to the Police Department, handed that duty off to councilman Jeff Freeze. Members Gene Weibl will be liaison to the Street and Building Departments, Greg Miller to the Park Department and Mike Perrine to the Fire Department. Freeze also was named the town’s representative to NIRPC.

Weibl, McGee and Freeze were reappointed to the Advisory Plan Commission, where long-time member Terry Swanson also was reappointed as well as to the Board of Zoning Appeals. The unexpired Plan Commission term of Jan Hines, a Republican who resigned, will be filled by Nicholas Minich, an Independent who will serve through 2014. Jennifer Barnes was reappointed to the Park Board.

During public comment resident Gayle Van Loon chastized council members for originally setting a December deadline for citizen applications, then in her opinion extending it until January to get a Plan Commission candidate more to their liking who lives in The Village subdivision.

Only two residents applied for the seat. Miller and Weibl said it’s their ethical and legal responsibility to choose the person they believe will work in the best interests of the town and respect the law.

Consultant reimbursement policy

Regarding the engineering proposals, three were submitted at the meeting: from Weaver Boos with local offices in Griffith and South Bend; DLZ with a local office in Burns Harbor; and Nies Engineering of Hammond. Global Engineering and Surveying of Michigan City is the current town engineer.

John Talbot of Weaver Boos and Mike Jabo of DLZ each described the services their respective companies would provide. Freeze and Miller were asked to review the proposals and consult with Global before making a recommendation at the Feb. 13 council meeting.

Prior to the presentations the council spent nearly 20 minutes discussing the best way to assure that billable fees for work performed by the town’s consultants are fully paid by petitioners and developers whose projects necessitate review. The matter was referred to the Plan Commission for further study.

Also during the council meeting:

• As fire chief, Arney said the department’s new advanced-life-support ambulance put in service two months ago made its first resuscitation of a full cardiac arrest Wednesday. “We had a save today.” He also reported that last year firefighters responded to 333 calls, 32 of them in December when 22 hours 6 minutes were spent at emergency scenes.

• A 2013 contract for fire services provided by the incorporated Fire Department was approved by the council.

• Michael Heckman reported December saw 201 police incidents, eight crash reports (six property damage, two personal injury), and 10 arrests of which six were misdemeanors and four felonies. Tickets numbered 36, warnings/verbal warnings 73, assists 85 and reports taken 29. Squad cars traveled 6,333 miles.

• For 2012, police handled 6,257 incidents; 68 crash reports resulting in no fatalities but 54 of them property damage and 14 personal injuries. Of 168 arrests, 126 were misdemeanors and 42 felonies. Tickets numbered 1,103; warnings/verbal warnings 2,339; and assists 1,012. Squads traveled 94,518 miles.

• The council set Jan. 14 at 6 p.m. for a closed executive session to interview candiates for a deputy marshal vacancy.

• Street superintendent Randy Skalku said the lack of snow has enabled his department to tackle other projects. He advised residents may leave out used Christmas trees for pick-up.

• Perrine and Arney said a bath towel was pulled from lift station pumps and the lines will be inspected and manholes checked; installation of locking manholes is being investigated.

• Park Board president Marcus Rogala said his board meets the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Lakeland Park, and that the successful Dec. 21 Christmas daycamp had approximately 40 children attending. The board also has a large pile of sand and slag it would like to have removed from the park.

• Clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan said the state approved Burns Harbor’s 2013 budget at $2.98 million which means the municipal tax rate climbed by over 3 cents to 35.88 cents per each $100 of assessed valuation.

• Annual conflict-of-interest disclosures were made. Jordan said her husband Kurt sometimes does IT work for the town, Freeze said his wife Tracy is on the BZA, and Perrine said his wife Leann is on the Park Board.



Posted 1/10/2013