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Feature Stories for Thursday, March 8, 2001

The STAR is distributed every Thursday.  
The Crown Point Network offers a sneak preview of weekly cover stories.

Taxing issue for C.L.

By Sean McNam
Star Staff Writer

CEDAR LAKE - The Town Council passed a resolution last month opposing a possible one percent Lake County income tax.
    The proposed tax was created to help the county in three ways.
    "Through this tax the county will be able to help reduce the welfare costs by the county board and state, it will help with an efficient operation and consolidation of county services and create an equitable assessment of specific areas within the county ," said Town Manager Tim Brown, reading from county paperwork.  

    The main reason for the possible tax mandate was because of the continuing tax problems that Gary, Hammond, East Chicago and Whiting face annually.
    Because of their tax discrepancy compared to the other cities and towns in the county, Cedar Lake's conclusion was there was a disproportionate amount of revenue each of the four aforementioned cities would receive compared to what each would be paying from the tax.
    Approximately 60,000 parcels of land will be affected if this tax is implemented, consequently changing the minimum amount of property tax a homeowner has to pay annually.
    "Based on the changed costs from the county income tax the minimum property tax payment will increase to abut $500 because the payment will be based on the overall average income of the surrounding area," commented Brown.

Public transport considered

By Sean McNab
Star Staff Writer

WINFIELD - The Town Council has approved the possibility of using a federal grant to fund public transportation, despite the reservations of some residents.
    South Lake County Community Services Executive Director Margo Sabato explained that it was a two-part process to secure the availability of public transportation.
    "We need to get state and federal grants that will cash-match what we plan on making through our local fares. It will cost approximately $46,000 to bring transportation into Winfield. I have already gotten some of the funding and am expecting at least 3,200 one-way trips annually from Winfield residents," explained Sabato.
    Sabato has already obtained $24,000 in state and federal funding and needs $12,000 from local sources.
    The town plans on using some of its Community Development Block Grant funding to support the transportation.
    This did not sit well with those in attendance.
    Many residents felt that by using this money for transportation it would be taking away from the town's tax pocket resulting in an overall hesitancy to use the services.
    In defense of SLCCS, Town Council President Joyce Furto commented that it is difficult to find ways in which to spend this type of funding on an annual basis.
    "The money that is allocated to us every year can only be spent under certain criteria and in specific situations. One of the ways we can do this in 2001 is through a possible public transportation service."
    With Sabato expecting a specific amount of one-way trips to cover the overall costs of the bus, Councilman Bill Brown wondered if the town would be liable if the service did not reach its quota.
    "I am responsible to make sure that the we have enough one-way trips annually to cover the costs. If we do not reach our quota that is my problem," said Sabato.
    SLCCS is expecting a large percentage of its trips will come from elderly residents residing in the Chicagoland Christian Village Retirement Home along with the handicapped and elderly within the town and township boundaries.
    Because of this, residents wondered how many of those in need of the service would be able to pay for $7 one-way trip with their limited incomes.
    "We have people that work at LCAR currently using our services. If there are some that cannot by the fee we do make allowances. Ways in which to bill for our services are through personal insurance, vocational rehabilitation and through agencies such as LCAR or Tradewinds," stated Sabato.
    The motion was passed under the stipulation that SLCCS receives enough funding prior to applying for the service.
    In other news, the town's new Water Works Board held its first meeting Monday. At the meeting Rick Anderson was elected president, John Pangere vice-president and Rebecca Melanson secretary.


Council rejects Hawk

By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - The City Council on Monday rejected Hawk Development Corp.'s plan to develop a 100-acre parcel on the north side of 129th Avenue one-quarter mile west of Delaware Street.
    Hawk planned to put 447 residential units on the property, to be known as Forest View. Fifty-three would have been single-family homes on the north end of the development, near the Stillwater subdivision.
    The plan also called for 228 four- to six-unit villas and townhomes, and 160 "carriage" homes, which would have been located on uneven ground in the middle of the development.
    The council's concerns centered on the proposed development's road widths, lack of sidewalks and curbs, and density.
    The main roads in the development would be the city standard 31 feet, Hawk engineer Gary Torrenga said, but many of the roads servicing the residences would be 24 feet wide, without curbs.
    Councilman Paul Bremer, R-1st, objected.
    "I would like to see all the roads in the development be 31 feet wide and with curbing," he said.
    Council members also expressed a desire to have sidewalks throughout the development, especially since Hawk plans to market it to senior citizens, who council members felt would want sidewalks for daily walking.
On the density issue, Councilman William Condron, R-4th, pointed out that the property contained a significant unbuildable area, meaning the density on useable land would be far above the apparent density.
    He also said the proposal did nothing to buffer neighboring developments, including Northwood.
    "It's backed up right against them," Condron said.
Other council members also expressed objections to the density.
    "There's no way I can support 60-foot lots," said Councilman James Wirtz, R-at large, referring to the frontage of some of the proposed lots.
    "This is a pretty jammed up thing," agreed Councilman Michael Conquest, R-at large.
Area residents at Monday's meeting expressed concern about drainage and traffic.
    Torrenga said Hawk would not only take care of stormwater drainage from Forest View, but help alleviate other drainage problems in the area.
    Lake County Public Works Director Bill Henderson said cooperation from Hawk is already making his job of maintaining county ditches easier.
    The residents also worried about construction traffic on 129th Avenue, and residential traffic once the neighborhood is developed.
    Hawk has promised to create a construction road off Delaware Street so heavy equipment won't have to use 129th.
On residential traffic, attorney Tom Perry, representing resident Frederick Fedorchak, pointed out 447 units would mean a significant number of additional cars on 129th.
    The council could have approved the development plan with adjustments, but with sidewalks, curbs, reduction in density, buffers for neighboring subdivisions, "we're going to put so many restrictions in here it's not going to be what you're looking at (now)," said Condron.
    The council rejected the plan unanimously.



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