Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Burns Harbor Council Town doesn't need new parking ordinance

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A request that the Town Council consider restrictions on parking on grass in private yards was dead on arrival at Wednesday’s council meeting.

The town’s Advisory Plan Commission had asked building commissioner Bill Arney, who received some parking complaints, to present possible ordinance language. A draft would have banned parking in front and side yards unless on an approved surface like asphalt, concrete or gravel.

Associate town attorney Chuck Parkinson said parking was not a zoning matter and recommended the Town Council deal with it.

Councilman Mike Perrine said if the vehicles are not registered/plated or are creating a nuisance, the Police Department has jurisdiction. “We don’t need to put this (parking ordinance) in effect and start harassing people.”

And if the unsightly parking is being done in a subdivision, Perrine added, its covenants likely would address that.

From the audience Jim Constantine said the zoning ordinance is starting to sound like covenants. “This is a town, not a subdivision.”

Council president Jim McGee asked if town officials had the tools to handle parking problems. The consensus was they do.

In a related matter, McGee announced the council is accepting Republican applicants to serve out the remaining term of Plan Commission member Jim Meeks, who has resigned. The council also set a meeting for Jan. 25 to interview final candidates for the position of commission secretary.

Seventeen persons have applied for the post, which includes secretarial duties for the Board of Zoning Appeals and working part-time at the Building Department. Resident Tyler DeMar offered to assist as needed until someone is hired.

The council engaged in a lengthy discussion, then opted anyway to approve the 2010 contract for engineering services at 2009 rates with Hesham Khalil’s Global Land Surveying to be paid on an hourly basis. Councilman Cliff Fleming said to aid in budgeting it may be better to engage an engineer on a fixed retainer basis.

Perrine said with the economy the way it is and development uncertain, he favored an hourly contract now.

After the 2010 census it’s anticipated Burns Harbor’s population will trigger town participation in the labor-intensive federal MS4 stormwater protection program, he noted, so engineering services on a retainer basis would be best at that time.

In other business Wednesday:

•Parkinson reported that Bechstein Construction of Illinois has authorization to proceed with the town-funded $25,000 demolition of the derelict Standard Plaza former truck stop on U.S. 20. Arney said the contractor hopes to start as soon as permits are in hand.

•The council voted 3-0 with Louis Bain absent to accept the infrastructure in Phases 2 and 3 of The Village in Burns Harbor subdivision. Fleming is its developer and recused himself from voting.

•In the annual conflict of interest declarations, Fleming said he is involved in development in town, Perrine said his wife is a paid member of the Park Board, and Clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan said her husband occassionally works for the town and she is treasurer for the Burns Harbor Scholarship Committee.

•Arney, who also serves as fire chief, said that department’s plans to offer basic-life-support ambulance transport for the ill or injured is moving along. Insurance has been addressed and protocol and staffing are being finalized.

•The council voted unanimously to enter into a 2010 contract for fire services with the Burns Harbor Volunteer Fire Department Inc.

•General Maintenance supervisor Randy Skalku said snowplow drivers are having trouble navigating subdivision roads because of vehicles parked on them. Perrine said police can interpret that as a roadblock. Skalku said town employees plow around the vehicles if necessary. Said Perrine, “If I walked out and saw 5 feet (of snow) on each side of my car I’d be unhappy, but I’d be less happy if it was in an impound yard in Portage.”

•Arney reported the Fire Department will receive a $9,000 grant from ArcelorMittal to replace 20-year-old extrication equipment. Town marshal Jerry Price said his department will receive a $5,000 Mittal grant for what he teased will be a nice surprise.

•Park Board president Clark Hamilton said long-time park director Kim Burton has been retained for 2010, and that this spring an aeration fountain will be installed in Harbor Lake. The next family movie night will be Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. at Lakeland Park.

•Jordan said the town has received 99.5 percent of its 2009 property taxes levied enabling it to make the January bond and fire truck lease payments and to meet payroll.

•She also said residents are being asked to loan photos and artifacts from the town’s history for an exhibit about Burns Harbor being contemplated by the Westchester Township Historical Museum.

•Earlier in the evening the town Redevelopment Commission authorized Perrine to research the work and cost involved in developing a comprehensive capital projects list that could be used to apply for future grants. Jordan said she is taking a grant-writing course


Posted 1/15/2010





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