Burns Harbor officials learned Monday they have to survey, evaluate and
inventory all public buildings, services and streets/sidewalks in town for
compliance with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Then they have to develop a preliminary transition plan and budget to make
the necessary upgrades.
All by Dec. 31.
The law has been around for some time, but Burns Harbor officials apparently
didn’t know the “50 employee” threshhold for participation includes
part-time workers, volunteer firefghters and appointed officials who receive
Allen Hammond, NIRPC transit compliance officer, told the town’s Advisory
Plan Commission on Monday, “People ask, ‘How can we do this?’ You can’t
afford not to do this.” Absence of a plan by the deadline can lead to
federal highway funds being withheld.
The commission asked Hammond to attend the Oct. 17 Town Council meeting to
explain the ADA mandate.
One saving grace will be that Burns Harbor only has sidewalks in its five
newer subdivisions. But at least one town building as well as public
attractions at Lakeland Park like stairs to the swimming area could be
problematic. The town hall has handicapped restrooms and an accessible main
Burns Harbor is struggling with a tight budget and is awaiting word from the
state whether it will be allowed to collect more money in 2013. Hammond said
all the necessary upgrades don’t have to be done in one year, and the ADA
transition plan has to be updated every year. “The ADA does not require you
guys go broke making your town accessible to those with disabilities.”
In other business, incorrect or confusing information in the town zoning
ordinance again came into play when Jeff Ban, representing owners of the
Traditions apartment development, requested a reduction in the letter of
credit for Phase 4A and final plat approval for Phase 4B.
Both had been sought last night, but all paperwork wasn’t in hand or
submitted by the required deadline.
Phase 4A is nearing completion of several buildings and units with
encouraging occupancy so construction on additional buildings in Phase 4B is
being sought. Ban was told the commission’s previous limited approval allows
for construction of infrastructure in public rights-of-way so some 4B work
can commence. The next commission meeting is Nov. 5.
Inconsistencies in the adopted, printed and online zoning ordinances were
brought up by commission secretary Tyler DeMar. He said the town website
operating system is too outdated to be upgraded. Commission president and
Town Council member Jeff Freeze said the council is making IT upgrades but
it all takes money and time.
On another matter, building commissioner Bill Arney asked whether Global
Engineering and Surveying, the town’s contracted engineering firm, should
review the structural analyses submitted for requests to modify existing
cellular towers. Shem Khalil of Global said it’s of particular concern when
the tower capacity is at 100 percent.
Said Freeze, “I want to protect the town at all cost but there’s a meter
running.” Member Gene Weibl said any liability would be on the tower
applicant and their engineer, not the town; commission attorney Charles
Parkinson agreed. Khalil said the town could request the applicant
engineer’s proof of insurance.
Discussed was the absence last night of commission member Jan Hines. Town
records show she attended one of nine meetings this year.
According to state law IC 36-7-4-220 (c), an appointed member who misses
three consecutive regular meetings of the Plan Commission may be treated as
if the member had resigned, at the discretion of the appointing authority.
Freeze said the Town Council will be soliciting applications for all
appointed boards and commissions for 2013.