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Feature Stories for June 15, 2000

The STAR is distributed every Thursday.  
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Council mulls new sewer rate
County waits to appoint transit panel

By Andrew Steele 
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - The County Council took several steps Tuesday necessary to bring the Hermits Lake sewer system up to standard. 
    The council gave preliminary approval to a monthly sewer rate of $69.71 for the community, located southwest of the city of Crown Point. Final approval awaits a public hearing, scheduled for 5 p.m. June 27. 
    The monthly rate will fund operation of the neighborhood's wastewater treatment plant and will pay back a $550,000 state loan. 
    That loan, from the Sewer Relief Fund, will be added to a $500,000 Build Indiana Fund grant to repair the sewer system, which had been privately owned. 
    The county's actions are prelude to creating a Hermits Lake Regional Sewer District and turning over operation of the utility to the area's residents. 
    "Ultimately, this county doesn't want to be in the sewer business," County Attorney John Dull said. "The initial decision to go into this was a mistake." 
    Dull said that decision was made by County Commissioners about eight years ago, when they thought the state was going to provide money to rehabilitate the plant. 
    In other business, the council deferred making appointments to the new Regional Transportation Committee until next week. 
    The deferral was made over the objection of several council members including President Will Smith, who said other governmental bodies with the power to appoint members had been given a June 16 deadline. 
    "We are part and parcel of the deadline to other participants," Smith said. 
    The Interfaith Coalition also expressed displeasure, not just with deferral but with the RTC itself. The coalition wants the county to create a Regional Transportation Authority that would have power to create a public transportation system. 
    The coalition says the RTC was created to fool the public into thinking a body with such authority had been created. 
    A speech by coalition leader Rev. Cheryl Rivera led to three council members leaving the council chamber. 
    Rivera labeled Councilman Larry Blanchard (R-Crown Point) the leader of a four-member majority obstructing creation of an RTA on behalf of 'special interests.' 
    "The Larry Blanchard sprawl machine ... is alive and well and controlling four votes on this council," Rivera charged. 
    After Smith asked Rivera not to comment on individual members, Rivera charged Blanchard and other council members of wanting only 'golf courses' and 'gated luxury communities.' 
    That prompted Councilwoman Bernadette Costa (D-Hammond) to leave the room, followed by Blanchard and Councilman Thomas O'Donnell (D-Schererville). 
    The council deferred the appointments until 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Access issues end in petition deferral 
Hawk Development to try again at July 10 meeting

By Sean McNab 
Star Staff Writer

CROWN POINT - Restrictions over residential parking proved to be a deciding factor in the petitioning of 47 townhome units in the Prairie View Subdivision owned by Hawk Development located on Madison Street. 
    Rich Pasztor, an employee of Ability Construction, petitioned to the board the building of two-story townhouses on 1224 to 1274 feet parcels of land. 
    The discrepancy stems from the 20 foot garages attached to the units limiting the width of the adjacent streets to 30 feet. City Engineer Jeff Ban stated, "Because the width of the proposed streets are 30 feet, parking is only allowed on one side of the street. City ordinance states that in order for parking to be allowed on both sides the width must be 36 feet." 
    Plan Commission member Bob Rees voiced concern on the limitation. 
    "This will be putting a high density populace in a small area. Because the city really does not enforce parking restrictions presently within it's limits, this will definitely provide some problems if city emergency vehicles need access." 
    Similarly, members vociferated that they could see future vehicles blocking sidewalks in order to park. 
    Plan President Patt Patterson explained, "With this limited access, cars will likely have to block off some of the sidewalks causing an inconvenience to residential owners. We do not want this subdivision to look like the north side of Chicago where people keep on looking out their front window to find an available parking space to move their car into." 
    Ban offered an alternative to the problem by offering some possible offsite parking. "There are some designated parking spaces on the east side of this subdivision where people can park. Also, a possible parking island could be created adding spaces for vehicles. This situation can be worked out." 
    Ban cited another concern that posed difficulty from an engineering standpoint. "The east end driveways of the subdivision have turning radius" that are less than 18 feet wide and appear to be too narrow. Service trucks would find it almost impossible to turn on these streets without hitting the end unit homes and garages." 
    There were three proposed plans that Pasztor would have used for these townhomes with the prices ranging from $99,000 to $110,000. 
    The Plan Commission unanimously motioned, though, to defer the R-3 zoning site approval plan to the next meeting, July 10, to give city staff and the petitioner time to resolve the aforementioned issues of parking and turning widths.




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