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'It's Chaos!': Dispute Over Sidewalk To Nowhere Keeps Chesterton Couple Out Of Their Brand New Home For Months

CHICAGO (CBS) -- New cabinets, new paint, a whole new house; a Northwest Indiana couple was all ready to transition to their brand new creation, but a city rule stopped the move-in before it could start.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory takes us inside the headache of where the sidewalk ends.

The town of Chesterton, Indiana is growing. Sara and John Deal wanted in. They hired Steiner Homes to build a new house from scratch on 30-plus acres.

"It's the house that I always wanted," Sara said.

"The appliances are in. The internet's in," she added. "One-hundred percent finished."

Unfortunately, also 100% empty since October. The town won't sign off on an occupancy permit.

"Everything we need to move in is there, except apparently for a sidewalk out front," Sara said.

The missing walkway wasn't exactly an oversight. Steiner Homes asked the town to waive its sidewalk requirement, but Chesterton said no.

Steiner Homes owner said he couldn't think of any other towns that have granted them such a waiver, but he said he thought this situation would be different, because this area is protected wetlands.

Plus, the path wouldn't connect to anything.

"I just honestly didn't believe we would be asked to put sidewalks in that kind of lead nowhere," he said.

The one he had to pour on the north side of the property also just ends.

"It really is a small island of sidewalk," John Deal said.

But town officials are adamant. No deal for the Deals until Steiner Homes at least guarantees it'll construct the full sidewalk by signing a letter of credit.

The builder hasn't done that in months.

"It's chaos!" Sara said of life with three kids under age 4; first in their camper, and now in an apartment.

They sold their other home, not thinking their complications with concrete and Steiner Homes would drag on.

"I just don't think there's much of a sense of urgency on their end," John said.

Until now. Cameras rolling, the builder made a promise.

"We're moving ahead; doing the letter of credit so they can move in," Steiner said.

Steiner also promised to cover the cost of the sidewalks, which could be thousands of dollars more than usual because of the wetlands. Sidewalk installation was included in his initial contract with the Deals.

The Deals said Steiner personally called and apologized to them after our interview. He even told the couple he will build them a deck at no cost for all their troubles.

David Cincoski, town manager of Chesterton said the sidewalk waiver was denied because "the Town wanted to ensure that sidewalks would be placed in the area."
He clarified four conditions must be met by Steiner Homes before the Deals can move in:
  1. Install the first 300 feet of sidewalk;
  2. Proof provided to the building commissioner that all required permits for wetland mitigation have been filed;
  3. A letter of credit for 20% of the engineer's estimate to complete the sidewalk;
  4. A 40-foot right of way dedication to the Town.
As of 5pm Thursday, Cincoski said only the first step was done.

CBS 2 wondered about requirements in towns nearby: Portage, Hobart, and St. John all mandate sidewalks for new construction as well.

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