Chesterton Tribune


Surprise: Burns Harbor learns ADA plan due December 31

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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 compensation.

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 entrance completed.

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.





Posted 10/2/2012