NEW PALESTINE — A business owner and his associate already involved in a dispute with the town’s board of zoning appeals surrounding another business venture are now facing backlash over parking near their popular restaurant.
Ron Adams, owner of the building that houses Round the Corner Grill, 19 S. Bittner Road; and Scott LeBeau, who owns and operates the restaurant and is purchasing the building from Adams, were the topic of discussion at a recent town council meeting.
According to nearby neighbors, Round the Corner Grill attracts a steady crowd most nights and an even larger crowd on weekends and for special events. With limited parking, some customers have taken to leaving their vehicles along nearby South Elm Street directly east, behind the restaurant.
The increase of cars along the narrow side street, which intersects with U.S. 52, is creating a jam for drivers who want to use the street to gain access to their homes or to cut through to other streets, a neighbor told the council.
Eric Kropp, 125 E Main St., New Palestine, expressed concern about people illegally parking on South Elm Street, blocking his way.
Kropp told the council he lives behind the business and felt the owner was “pushing his boundaries.” He said he has called the police at least three times because the congestion blocks the path to his home.
“They are parking right on the road,” Kropp said.
Adams referred to the street as an “alley,” saying it’s too small to be a normal two-way street, but said he had no problem with officials writing tickets against people who park there illegally.
But he also said he thought the complaint was silly.
“They complain about everything,” Adams said. “I have no control over who parks on that street. For all I know, maybe it’s him.”
Council members asked town manager Jim Robinson to locate the right-of-way on the narrow street and mark it properly, painting new lines to indicate there should be no parking.
“It will cut down on the police calls,” Kropp said. “We don’t like to do those things, but it affects my ability to get in and out of my property.”
Council member Bill Neimier agreed and said side streets in the town, which are much narrower than normal county roads, are no place for cars to be parked.
“The roadway needs to be open for all public use,” Neimier said. “The line is there for a reason, and if you are over it, it creates a safety concern.”
While Adams currently owns building that houses the restaurant, LeBeau is purchasing the structure from Adams. LeBeau hopes to have the building paid for within the next six months. He wishes town officials and community members who live nearby would back off.
LeBeau feels the parking issue is just the latest problem surrounding Adams and the town. Adams is fighting with the BZA, which has rejected his use of another building, at 121 E. Main St., near Round the Corner Grill, as a banquet hall.
“At this point, they’re going to complain about everything we do,” LeBeau said. “The cars they complained about were sticking out maybe three inches, so I don’t know what they want me to do.”
Calling the complaints “borderline harassment,” LeBeau said he just wants everyone to get along and doesn’t want arguments about parking at the popular community hangout.
“I’m fine with town officials marking the road and making it clear there is to be no more parking there,” LeBeau said. “But, the people who live behind the restaurant park in my lot all the time and drive through it all the time, but I don’t complain about it or never say a word.”
Adams filed a lawsuit against the BZA last fall after it denied a zoning change for the banquet hall to continue operations. Adams and his wife, Tamey Adams, accused the board of violating state law in its vote against the proposal.
They also accused one member of a conflict of interest.
The lawsuit says a BZA member who has a relative living near the proposed venue site should have abstained from the vote.
The petition, filed in November in Hancock County Circuit Court, states the decision by the board was arbitrary, capricious and constituted an abuse of discretion.
The lawsuit states BZA member Chester Mosley should have been a “disqualiﬁed member” because his daughter and son-in-law, Kropp, live next door to the property and were the original complainants as well as the main opponents to comment at the BZA meeting.
The lawsuit also noted that the BZA violated the state’s Open Door Law when it held a secret vote to turn down the zoning variance.