Chesterton Tribune

Stale town code Web page causes headaches for Burns Harbor

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The Burns Harbor Advisory Plan Commission decided Monday that having a version of the town code online that hasn’t been updated is causing more problems than it’s worth.

Members agreed to pull the link from the town website until conflicting versions of the ordinances are resolved.

President Jeff Freeze, one of three Town Council members on the commission, said of the online code, “It’ll be back there very quickly.”

Building Commissioner Bill Arney said the discrepancies are causing problems for him and his staff; a builder of apartments going up in town believes one certificate of occupancy is all that’s needed, said Arney, even though each living unit needs to be inspected individually and an inspector paid to do that.

Arney said he has packets prepared for contractors/developers with updated ordinances and those getting a packet sign that they’ve received them, but they’re apparently not reading them and relying on the website instead.

“I’m just looking for a way to all stay on the same page,” said Arney.

“If it’s not what Bill’s going by, we need to pull (the web page) down,” said Freeze. “I want to see the current code up there and that’s it.”

Plan Commission secretary Tyler DeMar said he plans to present the Town Council April 11 with a proposal to get and keep the website version of the town code accurate. Freeze said a solution could be a disclaimer that the web version is for reference only and not intended to be a complete document.

Arney also noted the town code doesn’t appear to require a fee for signs under $1,000 in four zoning districts. The commission recommended a building permit-fee addition of $75 or 10 percent of the cost of the sign, whichever is larger, in the Residential/Commercial 2, Downtown, Business Park and Special Districts.

On another matter, after months of discussion going back to 2011 the commission voted 6-0 with Jan Hines absent to allow developer John Miller to fill in approximately 74 feet of a drainage ditch with a culvert to increase the usable rear yard of a home on Lake Park Avenue at the east cul-de-sac in the Parkwood Estates subdivision.

Hesham Khalil of town engineer Global Engineering and Surveying said the plans submitted by and discussed with Miller’s engineer are now satisfactory. Commission attorney Charles Parkinson said there’s not a formal process for what Miller’s asking but it seems to be related to construction details of the plat approval so this could be considered a variance to them.

The motion was to allow Miller to modify his existing construction details to conform with the drawing as submitted and approved.

Commission member Bernie Poparad asked if there is a way for the town to recoup the legal, engineering and related fees its incurred reviewing Miller’s request. Parkinson said yes, and Miller agreed to pay upon invoice. The motion was amended to include the payment requirement.

In other business, the commission discussed the long back-up of vehicles on U.S. 12 when trains block the crossing into steelmaker ArcelorMittal’s east gate. Khalil said the town could contact the Indiana Department of Transportation seeking an additional lane there to permit U.S. 12 through-traffic to move.

It was noted the east gate itself is in the Town of Porter and a joint effort was suggested to lobby for intersection improvements. A regional transportation committee also is studying the matter.



Posted 4/2/2012