Chesterton Tribune

Lyp resigns as Porter Town attorney

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By PAULENE POPARAD

Porter town attorney Patrick Lyp has resigned in an email sent to Town Council members the morning after last week’s meeting; he indicated he chose email so all council members received the same information at the same time.

Lyp, who has served as town attorney for seven and a half years, will remain through the end of June to provide assistance during the transition. He said the overall demands of his law practice and a desire to spend more time with his family led to his decision.

Lyp told the Chesterton Tribune, “There is nothing nefarious. No one asked me to leave or raised any problems/concerns. For me, it is a decision I needed to make. That said, I continue to be engaged in all aspects of the Town’s legal needs until an orderly transition can be made.”

In his email to the council, Lyp told members, “I will not leave until you are comfortable with a replacement, however, I think the sooner the process begins, the better it is for the Town.”

Lyp said he spoke in March to council president Trevin Fowler and member Jon Granat about the possibility of resigning, but Lyp’s May 11 announcement was unexpected to some.

“I was not aware Patrick was going to resign; I can’t speak for the others,” said council vice-president Michele Bollinger. “I hold Patrick in very high regard. He’s done a good job for the town and I’m sorry to see hm go.”

According to councilman Dave Babcock, “It was out of the blue as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know about the others.”

Lyp said he was asked to remain through the end of the year but the job of Porter town attorney has become too demanding for one lawyer. He advised the Town Council and all other town boards, commissions and staff.

“Since the last meeting of 2010, it has become apparent to me that the dynamics of government in Porter have changed and your legal needs have substantially increased to the point where one person can no longer provide all the legal services your Town requires,” Lyp told the council.

It was at the Dec. 28, 2010 council meeting where a tie-breaking vote elected Babcock to lead the council this year; his presidency was taken away on a 3-2 vote Jan. 11 in favor of Fowler. Dec. 28 a divided council also named one of its members to the town Board of Zoning Appeals contrary to state law, a move later that night Lyp said would be rescinded and was.

Lyp is an attorney/partner with Blachly, Tabor, Bozik and Hartman LLC of Valparaiso and represents several other municipal, business and civil clients.

Bollinger said considering applications from other lawyers with BTBH isn’t out of the question. Babcock said he wants to open the hiring process by advertising for professional legal services, but the Town Council has to decide the scope of services needed.

In Chesterton, three attorneys from the firm of Harris, Welsh & Lukmann share legal representation there; in Burns Harbor, two HWL attorneys represent that town.

Bollinger said hiring more than one attorney for Porter is an option, and Babcock said it’s the way he’d like to proceed. The council’s next meeting is May 24.

According to Fowler, “The Town is moving forward expeditiously to secure competent and dedicated legal counsel, exploring all options and candidates as a high priority. During the interim, Mr. Lyp has assured the council he will continue representing our interests until a suitable town attorney is identified and under contract. We are grateful for that.”

Bollinger said she’d like to honor Lyp’s wishes to turn over Porter’s legal responsibilities by June 30, however, “It’s an important decision. I don’t want to rush it. We’ve been fortunate to have retained the same (contract consultants) since we took office so we’ve not had to deal with this.”

Fowler thanked Lyp for his service to the town. Lyp said, “Between the Town Council, Plan Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, Redevelopment Commission and town staff, I have had the privilege to work with many wonderful people.”

The resignation comes as Porter is in the midst of several large projects including the $30 million Gateway to the Indiana Dunes initiative funded with a $19 million regional grant, and the 32-acre Brickyard residential/senior-living development for which a special meeting will take place Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the town hall.

 

Posted 5/16/2011