Chesterton Tribune



BZA questions if gun shop security was what they were led to believe

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Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals staff are researching whether assertions made by a BZA petitioner are enforceable if they’re not made specific conditions tied to the petition’s approval.

At issue are statements made Dec. 26 by Ken Price of Jackson Township, who was granted BZA approval that night to open Disappear Gear at 1050 Broadway Suite 2 for the sale of camouflage gear, firearms and ammunition.

In the early morning hours of June 12 a small arsenal of weapons was stolen from the business with total loss and damages set at $12,000. A week later police announced two arrests had been made in the case and that most of the firearms stolen -- eight semi-automatic pistols and five carbine rifles --- had been recovered.

Questions arose Thursday at the conclusion of the BZA meeting over how much security Disappear Gear had in place at the time of the burglary.

Price told the BZA in December that the guns would be kept in a vault area in a secured office, and he spoke of alarms, cameras, glass-break protection, motion sensors and steel doors.

When the suspects in the burglary were interviewed, they told officers and ATF agents that they broke a front window at the gun shop, retreated to see if there was a police response, then proceded to enter the business.

In December, Price and his attorney, Greg Babcock, pointed to a statement from Chesterton police chief Dave Cincoski saying Disappear Gear will have more security than two previous Chesterton stores where guns were sold, and because Price’s store will be less than three blocks from the police station, response time would be fast in the event of a problem.

Last night, BZA members voiced their displeasure with the apparent lack of adequate security at the business at the time of the burglary, contrary to what they feel they had been led to believe, calling the burglary an egregious event that put the community at risk.

BZA attorney Julie Paulson said she’s checking the documentation related to the board’s approval and she’ll advise members if action can be taken. Member Jim Kowalski said it’s his understanding a person can be brought in for a hearing to determine if the petitioner is in compliance.

BZA president Rodney Corder said in the future the board will have to put assertions made by petitioners in a binding form, likely enumerated conditions tied to approval, although Kowalski said monitoring whether compliance is taking place could be difficult.

Member Sig Niepokoj said, “We take people’s word for it and assume it will be done. It would seem in this case, that wasn’t the case.”

Because Disappear Gear is located in The Factory retail/professional center, the two variances Price received for his business were legally granted to B&B Developers Inc. as The Factory’s owner.



Posted 6/27/2014