Chesterton Tribune

Public to get a chance to weigh in on proposed Burns Harbor public assembly ordinance

Back to Front Page






The Burns Harbor Advisory Plan Commission wants to know what the public thinks about a proposed ordinance regulating public assemblies of 100 people or more where admission is charged or alcohol will be sold.

A public hearing on the assembly ordinance will take place May 2. At that time the cost of a required assembly permit, reflecting staff time to review and process it, will be determined.

Under the proposal an applicant would file at least 45 days before the event with the town Police Department; town department heads would review but the Town Council would make a final decision.

Police and fire protection, crowd control, traffic access, food service and sanitation facilities would be considered.

The ordinance would cover fee-to-enter events like classic car shows and rock concerts, but it would not apply to permanent stadiums, banquet halls, auditoriums, arenas or certain other venues. Liability insurance has to be provided by the sponsor, and one sworn police officer on duty for every 50 persons attending.

Commission member Terry Swanson said while he’s not against the ordinance, it does set out a complicated procedure. The event applicant may have to give notice of the planned assembly to property owners within 300 feet.

The commission began discussing an assembly ordinance months ago after a large fundraiser was planned but not conducted last year; it would have featured admission and liquor sales on private property. The town found the current ordinance did not regulate such an event.

But under the proposed ordinance, said member Jan Hines, “Somebody’s who’s willy nilly will see this and have second thoughts, which is a good thing.”

Also set for public hearing May 2 is an amendment to the excavation ordinance requiring a permit if excavation work is being done within the public right-of-way. The intent is so utility companies and their subcontractors obtain a permit when doing excavation work in town to provide basic information needed.

Commission president Jeff Freeze asked if the change would mean residents who wanted to plant a tree between the sidewalk and street would have to get a permit. Commission attorney Charles Parkinson said yes.

Vote to set the matter for public hearing was 5-1 with Freeze voting no and member Toni Biancardi absent.

The Plan Commission also decided to send to the Town Council a recommended change in the building code, which does not require a public hearing. If adopted, for new construction projects stamped metal tags would have to be placed on NIPSCO meters to notify firefighters if glued, manufactured I-beams were used in the structure.

The beams burn three times faster than conventional lumber posing a hazard to responders. Town fire chief and building commissioner Bill Arney said a new national fire code is being developed to address manufactured beams.

Drainage gets thumbs down

On another matter, after receiving a negative review from Hesham Khalil of town engineer Global Land Surveying and Engineering, the commission voted unanimously to recommend the Town Council reject the request of John Miller to vacate a portion of an easement in Parkwood Estates subdivision.

Miller wanted to decrease the size of the detention pond on Lots 16-21 and instead use a series of storm sewers and manholes so the lots would have larger yards.

Khalil said in heavy rains streets and yards would take longer to drain under Miller’s plan and with Burns Harbor soon coming under the federal MS4 stormwater regulations, it’s better to plan for that now. Miller could engineer a way to accomplish his goal, Khalil added, but it likely would cost more money.

Khalil’s comments were outlined in a letter to the commission. Miller requested a copy of the letter but was not provided with one.

England lot, signal coming

Khalil said a site plan has been submitted for review for a permit for C.R. England to build its 250 semi-truck parking lot and guardhouses west of Indiana 149 south of Tech Drive. England also will use its approximately $100,000 held in escrow since 2007 to install a stop light at that intersection now.

Last summer’s controversial 3-2 town Board of Zoning Appeals decision allowing the parking lot resulted in a legal attempt by the Town Council to overturn it saying the large increase in trucks likely will force the town to redesign and rebuild the Old Porter Road intersection at Indiana 149 north of the England site.

Utah-based England already operates a regional truck terminal off Tech Drive as well as a truck-driving school there.

A Porter Superior Court judge ruled late last year that the town and its Town Council had no standing in the England matter to challenge the decision of its own BZA.

Monday, Arney said he’s going to recommend to the Town Council that Tech Drive, a private road serving the industrial park, be torn out and rebuilt to highway standards at the expense of the property-owners association; Arney later estimated that cost to be about $200,000.

Repairs to the road last year didn’t work, said Arney. A car hit a pothole on it recently and the car was totaled. Commission member Jerry Price, town marshal, said Tech Drive “has gone from a nuisance to purely a danger.”



Posted 4/6/2011