Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Vacation public hearing continued after storm clears meeting of the department heads

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Thomas Biedron of 1540 Bunker Drive says that his life may depend on the Chesterton Town Council’s vacation of a utility easement at the side of his property.

But department heads have concerns about losing that easement and in the mad scramble last night during the surprise wind storm, virtually every department head was in the field and not available at the council’s meeting--to Biedron’s consternation--to speak to those concerns.

Members voted 4-0 to continue the public hearing to their next meeting, Monday, July 8.

This is the issue: some years ago Biedron fell in his shower, sustained a spinal cord injury, and is now confined to a wheelchair. His physicians, Biedron said, believe that aqua-therapy is a “medical necessity” and that without it his prognosis for longevity “is not good.”

So Biedron wants to build a 20’ x 12’ aqua-therapy pool onto the side of his home but the structure would not only come within two feet of the property line but would cover an existing utility easement.

Biedron needs two things specifically in order to build the addition: a variance from the sideyard setback ordinance, which only the Board of Zoning Appeals can grant him; and a vacation of the easement, which only the council can grant him.

As Member Jeff Trout indicated, however, at Monday’s meeting, “staff has some concerns” about vacating that easement, which is both a drainage swale between Biedron’s home and his neighbor’s and an access point for municipal crews.

The department heads, though, virtually all of them--Town Engineer Mark O’Dell, Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg, Fire Chief and Acting Building Commissioner Mike Orlich, and Police Chief Dave Cincoski--had previously bolted from the town hall to respond to storm-related emergencies.

“I’m not comfortable making a decision without their input,” Trout said. “I don’t have enough information to make a decision.” Concurring were Members Sharon Darnell, D-4th, and Emerson DeLaney, R-5th.

Biedron and his wife, Jane, were both clearly unhappy with the council, with Biedron speaking about four months of delays already. What he was referring to wasn’t clear.

DeLaney replied that it’s the council’s responsibility to get input from the department heads, to act in the best interests of all residents, and “to follow the letter of the law.”

Tag Day Matter Resolved

In other business, Cincoski reported to the council that he has resolved a three-way conflict among competing organizations for a tag-day fundraiser on Saturday, June 29.

The CHS cheerleading squad will fundraise at the intersections of Broadway and Eighth Street and 1100N and 11th Street from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. A Relay for Life team will take those same intersections from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday.

And a second Relay for Life team will fundraise at Broadway and Eighth Street and Broadway and 15th Street on Saturday, July 6.

Interim Super’s Salary

Meanwhile, members voted 4-0 on final reading to amend the 2013 Salary Ordinance to create a salary for interim utility superintendent, a position right now held by O’Dell, with the resignation of Rob Lovell. That salary: $35,000.

 

Posted 6/25/2013