Burns Harbor got ahead of the Indiana State Building Department in adopting
new laws to address faster-burning, pre-engineered wood trusses, but now the
state has caught up and wants changes to the town’s ordinance.
Bill Arney, Burns Harbor building commissioner and fire chief, brought the
news to the town’s Advisory Plan Commission on Monday.
Arney said Indiana’s law won’t take effect until January 1, 2012 so the
town’s ordinance still would be enforceable until that time, but one problem
already has presented itself.
Burns Harbor requires a metal tag be affixed at the utility meter outside
the home and Arney said he’s purchased $900 worth of tags, however, the
state says their size is too small and they want stickers instead.
The tags notify emergency responders that glued, pre-engineered lumber was
used during construction for the floors and/or ceilings, which under heat
can give way posing a danger to firefighters and others. In December, 2010 a
fire spread quickly through a Burns Harbor home where such trusses had been
Arney said he’s making the case to state officials including the State Fire
Marshal that stickers placed on meters can wear away over time or be
damaged/destroyed in a fire while the metal tags should survive.
Plan Commission and Town Council member Toni Biancardi asked if the town
ordinance could be more stringent than state building code. Hesham Khalil of
town engineer Global Engineering and Land Surveying said yes, but Indiana’s
building and fire offices still would have to approve it.
According to Arney, the state also doesn’t like Burns Harbor’s language
describing the pre-engineered/manufactured lumber, the maximum fine possible
for non-compliance, and the price of the metal tag homeowners or builders
would be required to purchase.
Although the Plan Commission worked with Arney to fashion Burns Harbor’s
fire-tag ordinance originally, associate town attorney Julie Paulson said it
will be up to the Town Council to adopt the needed amendments.
Also Monday, the commission continued two agenda items. One was discussion
of how to regulate digging in public rights-of-way; revised draft language
Regarding the other, Khalil said he is working with the Chesterton/Duneland
Chamber of Commerce on specifications and policies for its planned LED
advertising monument sign at the southwest corner of Indiana 49 and East
Porter Avenue in Chesterton. Burns Harbor wants to update its sign ordinance
to better regulate such signs.
Said commission member Terry Swanson, “I saw one (LED sign) and it was so
bright, I couldn’t believe how bright. It was very annoying and dangerous.”
Commission member Jerry Price, town marshal, said there is a court decision
addressing the effect some LED signs have to distract motorists. Khalil said
the C of C is working to develop comprehensive specifications to assure its
sign is safe.
In other business:
• The commission extended until June, 2013 a $100,000 performance bond for
Corlin’s Landing subdivision. Developer Tom Lightfoot was asked to give the
board an update in 12 months on the Babcock Road project’s status. Thirteen
houses have been built. Also extended to 2013 was a $5,000 guarantee for
• Khalil said his inspection confirms Bob Kerr of Lake Shore Ford will have
to file for an excavation permit after allowing truckloads of dirt to be
dumped in a field east of the dealership; the excavation ordinance also
addresses increases in grade.
• Swanson inquired if there were progress in getting Wells Fargo bank to
remove piles of broken concrete at the former Standard Plaza truck stop the
town paid to have torn down. Arney said cooperation has not been