Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton and Valpo look to settle sewer service territory dispute

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The Town of Chesterton and the City of Valparaiso, along with their respective sanitary sewer utilities, are looking to settle a territorial dispute prompted last year by the Valparaiso City Utilities’ acquisition of the Damon Run Conservancy District’s sanitary infrastructure and by the Valparaiso City Council’s concomitant declaration of an exclusive sewer “territory” extending 10 miles beyond the city’s corporate limits.

Portions of that territory, however--in unincorporated Liberty Township--encroach on a four-mile territory declared by the Chesterton Town Council six years ago, in 2014, in which the Chesterton Utility is already providing sanitary sewer service, and has been for some time, to a pair of important customers: the Fox Chase Farms subdivision and the Whispering Sands Mobile Home Park.

In October, the Town of Chesterton formally challenged Valparaiso’s 10-mile territory in filings before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. According to that filing, “Chesterton has a substantial interest in this legal proceeding because the City of Valparaiso proposes to establish an exclusive sewer territory covering areas that overlap areas to which Chesterton may lawfully provide sewer service. The outcome of this legal proceeding will have a direct and material impact on Chesterton’s ability to render sewer service outside of the town’s municipal corporate limits and in areas for which its has master-planned sewer service.”

But under a “joint stipulation and settlement agreement” approved unanimously at a special joint meeting on Thursday by both the Chesterton Town Council and Utility Service Board, the territory dispute may soon be resolved amicably.

That agreement demarcates precisely where the Chesterton Utility and Valparaiso City Utilities shall enjoy exclusive rights to provide sanitary sewer service:

--Valparaiso City Utilities will continue to serve all customers previously served by the Damon Run Conservancy District--with the single exception of the Liberty Intermediate and Elementary schools, which will be served by the Cheserton Utility--including Porter Regional Hospital, Sunset Hill Farm County Park, and Timberland East and West. Valparaiso City Utilities will also have sole rights south of U.S. Highway 6, with the single exception of those portions of the Porter County Recapture Area which extend past U.S. 6.

--The Chesterton Utility will continue to serve Fox Chase Farms and the Whispering Sands Mobile Home Park and will have exclusive rights inside the whole of the Porter County Recapture Area, bordered roughly by the Indiana Toll Road to the north, North Calumet Ave. to the east, and a portion of unincorporated Liberty Township south of U.S. 6 and east of Ind. 49.

The Valparaiso City Council and Valparaiso City Utilities have already formally approved the agreement, which still needs to be okayed by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The IURC is set to meet on March 17.

Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson took a moment at the end of Thursday’s special joint meeting to say that Town Council Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th, was instrumental in the negotiation of the settlement agreement with representatives of the two Valparaiso parties. “Sharon did an excellent job working on this,” he said.

Darnell previously served--many years ago--on the Utility Service Board, then was the Town Council’s liaison to the Utility during her previous terms on the council.

“I’m gratified and I think it’s outstanding that we’re on the right path with Valparaiso,” Service Board President Larry Brandt added. “I mean, we’re the two biggest communities on this side of Porter County. We need to be able to get along.”

Parkinson did tell the Chesterton Tribune after the meeting that the settlement agreement would have no bearing, one way or the other, on the possibility, feasibility, or desirability of annexation of unicorporated property, by either Chesterton or Valparaiso.



Posted 3/2/2020






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