A local business is suing the Town of Chesterton and its agents—including
Town Council Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th—alleging among other things the
discriminatory enforcement of Town Code.
On Nov. 20, Bross Enterprises Inc.—the owner of the parking lot on South
Calumet Road directly across East Morgan Ave. from Popolano’s—filed a
five-count suit in Porter Superior Court. The initial bone of contention: a
drainage problem in the Bross parking lot which the suit claims was caused
by runoff from an adjacent property, the Hopkins Ace Hardware, owned by Mark
Hopkins who is, in the words of the suit, “known to be a close personal
friend” of DeLaney.
The suit specifically claims the following:
•On March 23, 2012, the Bross parking lot “filled with water during a modest
rain as a result of a business owner, Mark Hopkins, raising the level of his
parking lot which is adjacent” to the Bross property.
•The town subsequently informed Bross Enterprises that changes must be made
to the property “in order to drain and remove the puddled water that
accumulated as a result of the neighboring property’s improvements.”
•The town, however, “refused to allow (Bross Enterprises) to use a recorded
easement” for those changes and instead “mandated a more costly solution.”
•Bross Enterprises made the mandated improvements, which were inspected by
•Then, on Aug. 10, 2012, the town sent a letter to Bross Enterprises to the
effect that runoff from the Bross parking lot “is creating standing water on
adjacent property, thereby creating a nuisance and threatening further
administrative action” if the company did not comply within 10 days.
The suit makes two other claims:
•That “after (Bross Enterprises) complained of the discriminatory
treatment,” “people in town vehicles began to park outside its business for
no apparent reason” and that on one occasion “a person exited one such
vehicle and was recorded by security cameras trying to access (Bross
•That on July 27, 2012, DeLaney “traveled” to a house in Valparaiso occupied
by a Bross family member “and remained outside the fence for about an hour.”
The suit is seeking damages on five separate counts:
•Discriminatory enforcement of town ordinance: “By citing (Bross
Enterprises) for allegedly violating said nuisance ordinance and failing to
cite the adjacent property owner for a more onerous violation,” the suit
•Tortious interference: Bross Enterprises has “suffered damages as a result
of (the town’s) using its ordinances in a discriminatory fashion for the
purpose of interfering with and frustrating (the company’s) business,” the
•Intimidation: These “actions were for the purpose of intimidating (Bross
Enterprises) in order to discourage (the company) from moving forward with
its business plans,” the suit states.
•Negligent supervision: The town has “a duty to supervise its employees” but
“failed to carry out that duty, thereby allowing (the town’s) agents and
employees to park outside (Bross Enterprises’) business for no apparent
reason,” the suit states.
•Failure to train: “As result of (the town’s) failure to properly train the
Building Department employees, (Bross Enterprises) suffered damages in the
form of costly repairs, threats of legal action, and projects were delayed,”
the suit states.
DeLaney told the Chesterton Tribune today that he has no comment on
the suit. “I haven’t actually seen or been served any documentation at this
time,” he said. “I can’t comment on this.”
Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann also declined to comment.