Chesterton Tribune



Porter Council delays vote on town enforcement board

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During a brief meeting to end the year, the Porter Town Council gave first reading to an ordinance establishing a three-member administrative board that would take charge of enforcing town ordinances where fines can be issued for violations.

Having not enough members present to make a vote, the Council will revisit the matter at its next meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 14.

Council president Elka Nelson and members Dave Woodrich and Rob Pomeroy turned out to the meeting Monday but a vote on the ordinance requires at least four members be present, according to town attorney Gregg Sobkowski.

Establishing the Porter Administrative Body for the Enforcement of Ordinances would give the town the teeth to collect fines more than $250. It would also introduce a due process for residents to appeal the fines if they can make the case that they are not at fault for a violation, Nelson said.

Town Director of Development /Building Commissioner Mike Berry said currently the town does not have the mechanism to collect fines of over $250 or any town representative to enforce the ordinances.

The body would enforce ordinances pertaining to Buildings and Building Regulations (control of soil erosion during construction), Environment (dumping, fire liability, watercourse protection, etc.), Parks and Recreation, Sidewalks and Other Public Places, Traffic and Vehicles (snow removal, parking, bike regulations), and Vegetation.

If a violation is proved, the penalty for a first occurrence shall not exceed $2,500 and not to exceed $7,500 for second and subsequent violations as written in state law, the ordinance says.

Nelson said it is common for municipalities in Indiana to have a body like the one drafted in the proposal.

“It’s basically the same throughout the state towns,” she said.

Having the new board collect fines would also save the town from having to hire an attorney to go after delinquent payments

The members of the ordinance enforcement board would be appointed by the Council and any resident is eligible for consideration.

Seniors get fee waiver for park

In other business the Council, acting in their new role of overseeing the Park Department, approved rental rates for park facilities effective Jan. 1 by resolution.

During the peak seasons, the Community Center will offer rates all day single events at $325 Monday-Thursday and $450 on weekends for all four rooms. The Center’s kitchen and lounge can be rented for $125 Mon.-Thurs. and $175 Sat.-Sun. and the back hall and kitchen for $225 Mon.-Thurs. and $300 Sat.-Sun. Non-profits can rent the center for $50 per meeting.

The Millennium Gazebo can be rented at two hour intervals for $75 Mon.-Sun. and $25 for non-profits. The Park Shelter for a day can be rented at $50 and $25 for non-profits.

Festivals using the full park will need to pay $1,000 for Mon.-Sun. for up to two days.

For the months of January, February, March and November, the town will reduce the rental rates by 50 percent for off-season times for single day events and festivals. Nelson said the goal is to encourage rentals during the slow times. Non-profit rates will remain the same.

The Council also waived the fee for “bona fide” senior events and meetings, meaning the event would need to be exclusively for senior citizens. Nelson said some examples would be yoga classes, card games, knitting, or choral groups. Having a birthday party for grandchildren will not be considered a senior event, she said.

“It makes healthier seniors. It helps them get out and be active,” Nelson said, adding that this is a way to show support for the community.

Parks Director Brian Bugajski will be in charge of scheduling senior events so that groups will not have to request permission from the Council.

The resolution also states that fees could be waived by the Council if requested in person by a representative of the renting organization during a town council meeting.

Look out for snow

In a separate matter, public works director Brenda Brueckheimer advised a substantial amount of snow has been forecast or the area overnight on New Year’s Eve and advised residents to observe the town regulations about snow removal.

Brueckheimer asked that residents and visitors refrain from parking on town roadways so that plow crews can clear the roads and said that cars or trucks parked in the roadway may be removed.

“We are going to be calling on the police to get some assistance and have these vehicles removed,” said Brueckheimer.

Nelson said she has seen more cars parked on the streets with families visiting for the holidays.

Apply now

While wrapping up the meeting, Nelson said applications still being sought for openings on town boards next year.

The Plan Commission has two spots that need filling, one Republican and one Democrat, Nelson said. Other available seats include on the Board of Zoning Appeals, which does not consider political affiliation, a Republican spot on the Police Commission, as well as one for the Stormwater Board. There are also two openings on the Redevelopment Commission.



Posted 12/31/2013