on mind of town officials
By Kathie Godfrey
LOWELL - Plans for water and sewer lines that will
accommodate the town's growth on east Commercial Avenue were discussed
Monday when the Town Council moved to quickly expedite development put
on hold for more than a year by the state-imposed sewer ban.
Town Council President Robert Hatch, R-3rd,
Councilwoman Karen Brooker, R-2nd, and Building Administrator Bob Balczo
said they had met with Terry Wirtz of Whiteco, Merrillville, who plans
to seek mixed-use zoning to develop an 80-acre parcel of land east of
Burr Street and south of Commercial Avenue with an equal portion of
commercial and residential properties.
Balczo said the proposed Whiteco development will
include townhomes, duplexes and single-family homes as well as three or
four "big lots" fronted with an 11-unit commercial development
on State Road 2, but would not comment on the names of proposed
Brooker suggested a short-term solution to the
problem could get the commercial portion of the project off the ground
and proposed a sanitary sewer line to run east along Commercial Avenue
from Walgreen's to George's
Councilman Larry Just, R-4th, added that water supply was also an issue
and recommended that engineering include water service to the area.
Balczo said any proposal would require the state's approval as well as
the approval of the developer.
The council authorized Commonwealth Engineering,
Indianapolis, and Financial Solutions Group, Bloomington, to proceed
with engineering and financing required to bring adequate sewer and
water service to the proposed development.
In other business, the council granted a conditional
tax abatement to Saco Industries, after charging that the company had
not substantially complied with its promise to hire 60 new employees
According to documents provided by Saco, Hatch said
the company had only hired 21 new employees and added that with an
average annual salary of only $15,700, Saco was not providing the kind
of jobs needed by most local residents.
"I'm not sure more $7 an hour jobs are what the
community needs," he said.
Just asked that the abatement be tabled until Saco attorney Herman
Barber could provide updated information on Saco employees.
But when Barber said the firm's personal property tax
filing deadline was approaching three days hence, the council agreed to
grant the abatement if the company would present updated employee data
at its June 25 meeting.
say bar is being 'naughty'
By Sean McNab
Star Staff Writer
CROWN POINT - After all agenda items were presented
at the Plan Commission meeting on Monday, members sounded off on the
recent developments in the issue of Naughty Grapes, a proposed bar and
restaurant to be located at 513 Main St.
"I went by Naughty Grapes and saw that he has
totally disregarded the stipulations we set before him at the previous
Plan Commission meetings," member Bob Rees said. "He has cut
all of the grass out behind his building and has put a circular driveway
in that we never approved. What is our possible recourse for this?"
As the Naughty Grapes proposal has gone through the
planning process the last few months, commission members have voted to
require bar owner John Desmaretz to construct a right curb cut entering
the premises and a paved asphalt parking lot with enough parking spaces
to accommodate the seating arrangement inside the restaurant.
"He told us when I was onsite three weeks ago
that he would have an asphalt parking lot with curbs," City
Engineer Jeff Ban said. "All that is there now is stoned gravel up
to the property's fence."
City ordinance requires all curbed lots to be at
least two feet from the property line.
Members of the board concurred that if the Naughty
Grapes establishment does not comply with all city requirements, it will
not get a certificate of occupancy and, therefore, will not legally be
able to operate.
"There is no way that anyone can approve a
certificate of occupancy if the owners have not followed city ordinance
regulations" commented commission member Robert Corbin. "He
has been on razor's edge since this was proposed. It seems as if he does
not care about any regulations or restrictions that our city
To make situations even worse for commission members,
Naughty Grapes has been described recently as a jazz club opening July
"I was looking through one of the newspapers and
saw that they were advertising their restaurant as a jazz club that will
open next month," explained commission member Donna Retson.
Recalling previous confusion as to what exactly Naughty Grapes is
promoting as its business, members of the commission commented on their
leniency with the petition over the previous months.
"I really wanted this
petition to go through because the property has been vacated for so many
years," Corbin said. "I think we all have had a lot of
patience with this proposal."
With parking such an intricate issue, members of the
commission have seen as recently as last week vehicles from the
establishment parking in other business parking lots - something
representatives of Naughty Grapes said would never happen.
"I drove by White Hen and saw five or six cars
parked in their parking lot that were working for Naughty Grapes,"
The City Council rejected Desmaretz's original
petition for Naughty Grapes at its May 7 meeting on the grounds of
increased traffic causing street congestion and the unlikely feasibility
that the proposed off-street parking.
Plan Commission Attorney Peter Manous stated that he
would talk to the attorney of Naughty Grapes in hopes of resolving
Rees ended the discussion by saying, "If we let the owners of
Naughty Grapes continue to do whatever they want without any
repercussions we might as well get rid of the Plan Commission altogether
because our city ordinances and regulations will not have any effect on
future petitioners. Realistically, if nothing is done I might as well
just tear out all of my grass in front of my house and make more parking
spaces for it."