Chesterton Tribune


Bross Enterprises sues Town of Chesterton and Council Member DeLaney

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A local business is suing the Town of Chesterton and its agents—including Town Council Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th—alleging among other things the discriminatory enforcement of Town Code.

On Nov. 20, Bross Enterprises Inc.—the owner of the parking lot on South Calumet Road directly across East Morgan Ave. from Popolano’s—filed a five-count suit in Porter Superior Court. The initial bone of contention: a drainage problem in the Bross parking lot which the suit claims was caused by runoff from an adjacent property, the Hopkins Ace Hardware, owned by Mark Hopkins who is, in the words of the suit, “known to be a close personal friend” of DeLaney.

The suit specifically claims the following:

•On March 23, 2012, the Bross parking lot “filled with water during a modest rain as a result of a business owner, Mark Hopkins, raising the level of his parking lot which is adjacent” to the Bross property.

•The town subsequently informed Bross Enterprises that changes must be made to the property “in order to drain and remove the puddled water that accumulated as a result of the neighboring property’s improvements.”

•The town, however, “refused to allow (Bross Enterprises) to use a recorded easement” for those changes and instead “mandated a more costly solution.”

•Bross Enterprises made the mandated improvements, which were inspected by the town.

•Then, on Aug. 10, 2012, the town sent a letter to Bross Enterprises to the effect that runoff from the Bross parking lot “is creating standing water on adjacent property, thereby creating a nuisance and threatening further administrative action” if the company did not comply within 10 days.

The suit makes two other claims:

•That “after (Bross Enterprises) complained of the discriminatory treatment,” “people in town vehicles began to park outside its business for no apparent reason” and that on one occasion “a person exited one such vehicle and was recorded by security cameras trying to access (Bross Enterprises) premises.”

•That on July 27, 2012, DeLaney “traveled” to a house in Valparaiso occupied by a Bross family member “and remained outside the fence for about an hour.”

The suit is seeking damages on five separate counts:

•Discriminatory enforcement of town ordinance: “By citing (Bross Enterprises) for allegedly violating said nuisance ordinance and failing to cite the adjacent property owner for a more onerous violation,” the suit states.

•Tortious interference: Bross Enterprises has “suffered damages as a result of (the town’s) using its ordinances in a discriminatory fashion for the purpose of interfering with and frustrating (the company’s) business,” the suit states.

•Intimidation: These “actions were for the purpose of intimidating (Bross Enterprises) in order to discourage (the company) from moving forward with its business plans,” the suit states.

•Negligent supervision: The town has “a duty to supervise its employees” but “failed to carry out that duty, thereby allowing (the town’s) agents and employees to park outside (Bross Enterprises’) business for no apparent reason,” the suit states.

•Failure to train: “As result of (the town’s) failure to properly train the Building Department employees, (Bross Enterprises) suffered damages in the form of costly repairs, threats of legal action, and projects were delayed,” the suit states.

DeLaney told the Chesterton Tribune today that he has no comment on the suit. “I haven’t actually seen or been served any documentation at this time,” he said. “I can’t comment on this.”

Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann also declined to comment.



Posted 11/28/2012