Chesterton Tribune

Burns Harbor approves tax abatement for Praxair

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By PAULENE POPARAD

A special Burns Harbor Town Council meeting Friday resulted in Praxair being granted a 50% tax abatement for a term of five years on an estimated $8.6 million in new manufacturing equipment.

Being installed is new technology that's intended to help the 36-year-old local plant, and other Praxair plants in the future, to run more efficiently.

The company specializes in the development and distribution of atmospheric process and speciality gases.

The new equipment being installed in Burns Harbor was described as two pre-purification vessels designed to remove moisture, carbon dioxide and other contaminants from the air to prevent them from freezing out during the air separation and liquefaction process used at the plant.

It supplies oxygen, nitrogen and argon to customers along its proprietary pipeline in Northwest Indiana and to merchant customers by truck throughout the Midwestern United States, according to the company.

A council resolution, adopted on a 3-0 vote with members Toni Biancardi and Louis Bain absent, confirmed the designation of the approximately 25-acre Burns Harbor plant as an economic revitalization area; Praxair has no tax abatements in place at the current time.

The council also determined the current project will increase the plant's long-term assessed valuation, help retain the 13 full-time existing jobs there and also create temporary skilled-trades jobs during the construction period.

According to the company, the original construction of the Burns Harbor facility was completed in the mid-1970s. Since 1980 the company has invested over $75 million in new equipment there.

Responding to a question from Councilman Mike Perrine, Praxair area operations manager Dennis Maxwell said the five-year tax abatement is for the $8.6 million equipment being installed at this time for this project only and not a blanket abatement for any equipment installed over the next five years.

At one point the technical tax discussion turned to a lighter note.

Councilman Cliff Fleming said Praxair's three air separation towers are known by motorists traveling past them on Interstate 94 as the "one-hour towers" because that's approximately how long it takes to reach Chicago from the Burns Harbor landmarks.

Council president Jim McGee asked why only two of the three towers, each approximately 240 feet tall, have lighted Christmas trees atop them for the holiday season.

Maxwell said the third tower doesn't have an elevator so the lights would have to be hauled up by climbers with ropes, however, when equipment is on site for the current modernization the lights that form the Christmas trees could be put up then, he speculated.

Plan Commission tonight

Tonight the Burns Harbor Advisory Plan Commission meets at 7 p.m. at the town hall, 1240 N. Boo Road.

No hearings are planned but the commission will discuss the status of infrastructure improvements at Parkview Estates subdivision on Haglund Road as well as review the temporary sign ordinance. Last month building commissioner Bill Arney suggested the review after questions and complaints arose under the new zoning ordinance.

In April the Plan Commission also suggested the Town Council consider taking action to enforce the zoning regulations concerning outside storage at two specific locations, one already under litigation and the other supposed to be operating under conditions imposed by the town Board of Zoning Appeals.

Friday the council met in closed executive session prior to the Praxair meeting for the purpose of discussing litigation strategy.

 

Posted 5/3/2010