Building Department is preparing to take aim at scofflaw home builders.
At the Town
Council’s meeting Monday night, Interim Building Commissioner Mark O’Dell
sought members’ approval to consult with Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann about
two issues in particular.
The first: builders
who, in lieu of actually completing sodding and other work at a home site by
the May 1 deadline, simply renew on behalf of their clients the dirt-cheap
temporary occupancy permit issued in the winter. Cost of renewal: $25.
“We’ve got a couple of builders on their fifth extension,” O’Dell said.
The second issue:
builders who are gaming the system by adding two or three or more inches to
the approved first-floor elevation of new homes. There’s not much the
Building Department can do about it after the job is done, O’Dell said.
“Everybody wants to be higher than the previous guy.”
There’s a solution
to both issues, O’Dell told the council: simply eat into a builder’s profit
If instead of $25,
it costs $250 or $500 to renew a temporary occupancy permit--or if instead
of no fine at all, a builder can get tagged with a $250 or $500 penalty for
not building to code--then “we’re going to get some action,” O’Dell said.
Members voted 5-0
to authorize O’Dell to consult with Lukmann. “It’s too bad people don’t
follow the parameters given,” said Member Jim Ton, R-1st. “We’ll have to get
that on their radar with some heavy leverage.”
Glass Enclosure at
In other business,
members voted 5-0 to approve an expenditure of around $2,700 to install a
glass enclosure at both counters in the public area of the municipal complex
at 15th Street.
That vote was
contingent on a review of the conflict of interest disclosure form which
Member Jeff Trout, R-2nd, has filed, as the work will be done by Trout’s
firm, Trout Glass & Mirror.
O’Dell told the
council that working in the facility this winter proved a bone-chilling
proposition for the employees behind the counters--in service of the Parks
and Recreation Department, the Building Department, and the
Utility--inasmuch as the bitterly cold air rushed into the public area every
time the front doors were opened.
The glass will also
serve as a bit of a barrier between the employees and the sometimes angry
members of the public who have business with the Town of Chesterton, O’Dell
voted unanimously to vacate the platted easements on three parcels at the
southwest corner of the intersection of 1100N and 11th Street, the proposed
new home of Growing Kids Learning Center, a child-care facility.
Management Corporation (GKMC) had requested the vacation because those three
parcels were originally platted in 1984 as a planned unit development which
does not meet the company’s building needs. So GKMC wants to start from
scratch and treat the three parcels as a single 3.8-acre parcel,
necessitating the vacation of the current easements.
At a public hearing
which preceded the vote, no one spoke in favor of the vacation and no one
spoke in opposition to it.
Then, later in the
meeting, members voted once more, again unanimously, to approve a new PUD
ordinance endorsed earlier this month by the Advisory Plan Commission. Among
other variances, the PUD permits GKMC a monument sign eight feet above
grade, two feet higher than allowed under Town Code; a six-foot fence around
the playground area, 1.5 feet higher than allowed; and total signage of 170
square feet, 25 more square feet than allowed.
Members also voted
5-0 to appoint two Town of Chesterton representatives to the Northwest
Indiana Shared Ethics Advisory Commission: a citizen rep, Pat Carlisle; and
a municipal rep, Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Kuziela.
The town is nowhere
near completing Phase II of the Westchester-Liberty Trail--chiefly because
it’s nowhere near starting actual work on it--but O’Dell is already
beginning to think about how to fund Phase III, the final stretch of the
sidewalk along 1100N from Fifth Street to 100E and then to Rail Road.
O’Dell announced on Monday, the Indiana Department of Transportation has
rejected the town’s application for a $1 million grant for Phase III.
currently underway on Phase II, the middle stretch along 1100N from the
Rosehill Estates subdivision to Fifth Street. The town has received two
grants for the work: one from the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning
Commission for $405,834; the other from the Lake Michigan Coastal Program
estimated the total cost of Phase II at $862,500.
Bruce Mathias reminded folks that Saturday night, June 28, is Chesterton
Cruise Night in the Downtown.
Broadway will be
closed between South Calumet Road and Third Street for the hot rods and
vintage rides to be displayed in all their glory.