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.
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
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.
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.”
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.