The Town of
Chesterton and the City of Valparaiso, along with their respective sanitary
sewer utilities, are looking to settle a territorial dispute prompted last
year by the Valparaiso City Utilities’ acquisition of the Damon Run
Conservancy District’s sanitary infrastructure and by the Valparaiso City
Council’s concomitant declaration of an exclusive sewer “territory”
extending 10 miles beyond the city’s corporate limits.
Portions of that
territory, however--in unincorporated Liberty Township--encroach on a
four-mile territory declared by the Chesterton Town Council six years ago,
in 2014, in which the Chesterton Utility is already providing sanitary sewer
service, and has been for some time, to a pair of important customers: the
Fox Chase Farms subdivision and the Whispering Sands Mobile Home Park.
In October, the
Town of Chesterton formally challenged Valparaiso’s 10-mile territory in
filings before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. According to that
filing, “Chesterton has a substantial interest in this legal proceeding
because the City of Valparaiso proposes to establish an exclusive sewer
territory covering areas that overlap areas to which Chesterton may lawfully
provide sewer service. The outcome of this legal proceeding will have a
direct and material impact on Chesterton’s ability to render sewer service
outside of the town’s municipal corporate limits and in areas for which its
has master-planned sewer service.”
But under a “joint
stipulation and settlement agreement” approved unanimously at a special
joint meeting on Thursday by both the Chesterton Town Council and Utility
Service Board, the territory dispute may soon be resolved amicably.
demarcates precisely where the Chesterton Utility and Valparaiso City
Utilities shall enjoy exclusive rights to provide sanitary sewer service:
Utilities will continue to serve all customers previously served by the
Damon Run Conservancy District--with the single exception of the Liberty
Intermediate and Elementary schools, which will be served by the Cheserton
Utility--including Porter Regional Hospital, Sunset Hill Farm County Park,
and Timberland East and West. Valparaiso City Utilities will also have sole
rights south of U.S. Highway 6, with the single exception of those portions
of the Porter County Recapture Area which extend past U.S. 6.
Utility will continue to serve Fox Chase Farms and the Whispering Sands
Mobile Home Park and will have exclusive rights inside the whole of the
Porter County Recapture Area, bordered roughly by the Indiana Toll Road to
the north, North Calumet Ave. to the east, and a portion of unincorporated
Liberty Township south of U.S. 6 and east of Ind. 49.
The Valparaiso City
Council and Valparaiso City Utilities have already formally approved the
agreement, which still needs to be okayed by the Indiana Utility Regulatory
Commission. The IURC is set to meet on March 17.
Attorney Chuck Parkinson took a moment at the end of Thursday’s special
joint meeting to say that Town Council Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th, was
instrumental in the negotiation of the settlement agreement with
representatives of the two Valparaiso parties. “Sharon did an excellent job
working on this,” he said.
served--many years ago--on the Utility Service Board, then was the Town
Council’s liaison to the Utility during her previous terms on the council.
“I’m gratified and
I think it’s outstanding that we’re on the right path with Valparaiso,”
Service Board President Larry Brandt added. “I mean, we’re the two biggest
communities on this side of Porter County. We need to be able to get along.”
Parkinson did tell
the Chesterton Tribune after the meeting that the settlement
agreement would have no bearing, one way or the other, on the possibility,
feasibility, or desirability of annexation of unicorporated property, by
either Chesterton or Valparaiso.