The Burns Harbor Advisory Plan Commission forwarded a zoning amendment to
the Town Council dealing with large public assemblies, but planners decided
an ordinance that would regulate digging in public rights-of-way needs more
If OK’d by the council, the assembly ordinance would regulate any show,
concert or gathering at which 100 or more persons would be charged to
attend/enter the event, or at which alcoholic beverages would be sold.
A permit process is outlined, beginning with application made in writing at
least 45 days prior to the event to the town clerk-treasurer giving specific
information about the proposed activity; also, review by town department
heads would occur, certified notice given to adjoining neighbors and a final
determination made at a public Town Council meeting.
Cost of the permit application would range from $100 for more than 100
attendees but less than 1,000 to multiples of that amount depending on crowd
The provisions of the ordinance would not apply to any indoor or outdoor
assembly at an established and permanent stadium, banquet hall, auditorium,
arena or place of worship.
No one spoke on the ordinance’s merits at a required public hearing Monday.
An additional zoning proposal that would have amended the excavation
ordinance was pulled; language in the town building code may be changed
instead. After staff review this month a revised proposal will be discussed
at the June 6 commission meeting.
Originally the commission wanted to strengthen the excavation ordinance so
commercial/industrial contractors and utility crews digging in town
right-of-way would have to give notice and provide basic details like
contact information. But the intended changes mushroomed potentially into
also requiring homeowners to apply for an excavation permit, which includes
an application fee and hearing before the Plan Commission, if the
right-of-way to be disturbed was on their residential property.
“I’m not waiting 45 days to put in a bush,” said commission president Jeff
Freeze. Others questioned how homeowners would install mailboxes and other
yard amenities, and the cost of obtaining an excavation permit was a
Hesham Khalil of town engineer Global Land Surveying and Engineering said
Burns Harbor now is included on the 811 utility locate program to identify
the placement of town-owned infrastructure including underground wiring for
the street lights in the Village of Burns Harbor subdivision.
Charging a fee to offset the cost of the town’s 811 inspections is being
considered by its Sanitary Board, said Khalil.
Commission member Jerry Price said the town could require everyone who plans
to dig to ask for a utility locate, but existing residential property owners
wouldn’t have to pay. It was noted by others that even well-meaning
homeowners still could damage town infrastructure.
Said commission and council member Toni Biancardi, “We tried to make
everything fit in the excavation ordinance and it doesn’t fit.”
Khalil, commission attorney Charles Parkinson and building commissioner Bill
Arney were asked to consider alternate ways to assure the protections needed
are in place yet not put an undue burden on homeowners.
In a related matter, Lake Shore Ford owner Bob Kerr explained why piles of
dirt have been dumped on land he owns east of the U.S. 20 dealership; last
year dirt was placed with Kerr’s approval on 15 acres he owns west of Pilot
Travel Center, too. Arney had notified Kerr of both violations.
"All I thought was it’s an opportunity to get some free dirt so I jumped on
it,” Kerr told the commission.
Changing the grade east of Lake Shore could impact stormwater flooding at
Old Porter Road, Khalil said, and dumping at the 15-acre site could run
afoul of filling in wetlands. Kerr was instructed to meet with town
officials and return June 6 with a status report or excavation-permit
application that also regulates elevation changes.
Arney said he’s going to get tough over large piles of broken concrete
sitting north of U.S. 20 where the former Standard Plaza truck stop east of
Indiana 149 was torn down by the town last year.
Wells Fargo Bank reimbursed Burns Harbor for its demolition costs as
representative of the Nevada owners, but Arney told the commission a bank
official is stonewalling when it comes to removing the debris after
environmental testing took place at the site months ago.
Biancardi said the town didn’t go to the effort of having the derelict plaza
torn down only to have the site still look bad. Arney said maximum fine for
the lack of action is $2,500 per day.
In other business, commission members discussed the need to update town code
regarding LED signs, the new industry standard. Brightness, colors and
length of time a message is displayed need to be addressed, they said.
Khalil is active in the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce, which won
recent town approval there to put up a new, decorative LED welcome sign in
Chesterton to advertise member businesses and announce local events. He
suggested Burns Harbor wait to see the chamber plans for its sign’s
construction and operation.
In the interim, said Khalil, Burns Harbor could issue a moratorium on LED
signs. No action was taken.