When first created
in 2009, the Town of Chesterton’s officially designated riverfront
district--within the boundaries of which a dining establishment may receive
an alcohol license exempt from local quotas--extended 3,000 feet on either
side of Coffee Creek between Woodlawn Ave. and East Porter Ave.
have benefited from the riverfront designation, including Villa Nova
Pizzeria & Bistro, The Octave Grill, Ivy’s Bohemia House, Lemon Tree
Mediterranean Grill., and Gastro 49. Most recently, the new owner of the old
Popolano’s space at 225 S. Calumet Road, Chicago restaurateur and cordon
bleu Dino Cocco, applied to the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (IATC)
for a three-way license under the designation.
And perhaps very
soon, other restaurateurs in the more far-flung areas of Chesterton may be
doing the same thing. Because at its meeting Monday night the Town Council
voted unanimously to adopt a resolution which extends the 6,000-foot swath
of riverfront district south from East Porter Ave. to the Indiana Toll Road.
Members did so with
an eye in particular on Coffee Creek’s meander through Coffee Creek Center.
“I think it’s an excellent idea for economic development in this area,”
noted Member Jim Ton, R-1st. “We’re getting a lot of growth there.”
Applications to the
IATC under the riverfront designation aren’t automatically granted, Town
Attorney Chuck Lukmann added. A municipality’s executive board needs to
endorse it, as the Chesterton Town Council has previously endorsed the
applications of Villa Nova et al. And Town Manager Bernie Doyle “is
making sure we’re talking about quality dining, not roadhouses,” Lukmann
Change of Plan
In other business,
Brian Lewandowski of Benlew Enterprises LLC signaled his willingness to
abandon his petition for a right-of-way agreement with the town--concerning
a platted but unimproved portion of 22nd Street immediately north of
Westchester Ave.--and instead pursue a vacation of that municipal
is seeking to build a pair of duplexes at 2190 Westchester Ave., but
residents would only be able to access the property via the unimproved
right-of-way. Building a road to town specifications would prove
prohibitively expensive, so Lewandowski had instead proposed a right-of-way
agreement, under which Benlew Enterprises would have graveled the
right-of-way to make it passable but the town would have retained actual
ownership of it.
The problem is, the
legal system in recent years has taken a dim view of right-of-way agreements
and even under the most carefully prepared one a town would be exposed to
liability, Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann has concluded. So Member Emerson
DeLaney, R-5th, proposed an alternative solution: the council would be
amenable to vacating the right-of-way, deeding half of it--from the center
line east--to Benlew Enterprises, and the other half--from the center line
west--to the adjacent property owner.
A good solution,
Ton agreed. “You would own half of the street and the town wouldn’t have
liability,” he said.
unanimously to hold a public hearing on the vacation at its Aug. 8 meeting,
in advance of which staff will ensure that the town is contemplating no
future use of that portion of 22nd Street.
voted unanimously to appoint Richard Riley to the open seat on the Board of
Riley is the owner
of Riley’s Railhouse, the railroad-themed bed-and-breakfast at 123 N. Fourth
St. in Downtown Chesterton.
The vacancy on the
BZA was created by the recent resignation of Rodney Corder. Three other
persons applied for the seat, Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Kuziela told
Ton took a moment
at the end of the meeting to suggest to his colleagues that the council
begin setting aside an unspecified portion of the town’s annual CEDIT moneys
to help fund, when the time comes, the establishment of a railroad quiet
zone, in which the engineers of passing trains are freed from the federal
requirement that they sound their horns at all at-grade crossings.
Quiet zones are in
fact expensive undertakings, inasmuch as it can cost $250,000 to retrofit
each crossing with double guard arms and curbed median islands. And the town
will need the buy-in of both Porter County and the Town of Porter, since a
quiet zone extends one-half mile on either side of an at-grade crossing,
Ton indicated that
he understood but suggested that salting away some funds would at least get
the ball rolling. “If you don’t start somewhere, then you stay static, and I
don’t think that responsive,” he said.
Doyle added that it
can take one to two years actually to implement a quiet zone and that all
four at-grade crossings along the Norfolk Southern line--South Calumet Road,
Fourth Street, North Eighth Street, and North Jackson Blvd.--would have to
be retrofitted at the same time.