Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton takes legal interest in Valpo's Damon Run deal

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The Town of Chesterton has taken official interest in Valparaiso City Utilities’ move to acquire the infrastructure of the Damon Run Conservancy District.

At their meeting Monday night, members voted unanimously to retain the services of the legal firm Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP in what that firm refers to as a “sewer territory dispute” in a contract acceptance letter to Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson.

Later in the meeting, Member Jim Ton, R-1st, read a prepared statement in which he unequivocally expresses the view that Valparaiso City Utilities (VCU) and the City of Valparaiso itself appear to be interested in Lebensraum.

The text of that statement in full:

“Oct. 22, 2019, the Chesterton Tribune published Mr. Ron Stone’s view of the proposed purchase of Damon Run sanitary service by Valparaiso City Utilities (VCU). I concur with Ron’s analysis. This ‘deal’ is not in the best interests of the public in general and, in particular, the people who currently use Damon Run service.

“This ‘deal’ is seriously flawed:

“Damon Run property owners have paid more for their utility services than others in the area due to an annual debt service shortfall identified by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).

“It is disingenuous for the ‘deal’ supporters to state that Chesterton Utility or the Town of Chesterton demonstrated no interest in the purchase of Damon Run.

“The ‘deal’ is a clear attempt by VCU and the city to enlarge its ‘sphere of influence’ northward regardless of the local residents’ desires or best interests.

“Transparency is and has been absent in this rush to make a ‘deal.’

“Sanitary service must be provided by the best provider that is identified by the facts. We ask that the IURC identify those facts and do so promptly.”

After the meeting Associate Town Attorney Connor Nolan told the Chesterton Tribune that in 2014 the Town of Chesterton adopted an exclusive sewer territorial ordinance which stipulates that within a radius of four miles outside the town’s corporate limits it has sole rights to provide sanitary sewer service. The City of Valparaiso, however, adopted its own territorial ordinance this fall which stipulates the same, within a radius of 10 miles outside of its corporate limits, thereby encroaching on the Town of Chesterton’s territory.

Specifically, Nolan said, Bingham Greenebaum Doll will be reviewing a pair of legal strategies to determine the most appropriate: either to intervene in this case before the IURC; or else to file an independent petition before the IURC to enforce its territorial ordinance.

RR Quiet Zone

In other business, members voted unanimously to pay two claims as part of the railroad quiet zone project, both submitted by railroads: a $5,400 claim by Norfolk Southern; and a $6,000 claim by CSX.

Those are to pay the administrative fees incurred by the railroads as they work with the town’s quiet zone consultant, CTC Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas.

Town Manager Bernie Doyle noted that CTC reps will travel to Chesterton on Nov. 7 for their first face-to-face meeting with officials.

2020 Budget

Meanwhile, members voted unanimously to approve on second reading the 2020 advertised budget.

That budget provides for 2-percent raises for all full-time municipal employees. Moneys were freed for those raises by lowering the town’s annual allocation for healthcare insurance claims: from $1.6 million this year to $1.4 million next year. That allocation currently has a balance of $387,000, Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Kuziela told the Chesterton Tribune.

Redevelopment Commission

Earlier in the evening, at the monthly meeting of the Redevelopment Commission, members voted unanimously to approve--pending legal review--a contract with Landmark Sign Group in the amount of $3,600, to install a sign reading “Downtown Chesterton” on the monument supporting Lamar’s new LED sign at the intersection of North Calumet Road and Indian Boundary Road.

Doyle also reported to the commission that the office of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, is currently investigating the delay in the Amtrak permitting needed to complete the fiber optic network connection to Yost Elementary School in Porter. “They’re on it,” Doyle said.



Posted 10/29/2019




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