Chesterton Tribune

State wants changes in Burns Harbor ordinance on fast-burning homes

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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 used.

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 wasn’t completed.

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 sewer cleaning.

• 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 forthcoming.


Posted 6/7/2011