Indiana Dunes private development deal approved by Indiana House committee

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By: Brian Slodysko/Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana House committee approved a bill that could put an embattled privatization deal back on track by allowing a politically connected developer to sell alcohol at proposed restaurants and a bar at Indiana Dunes State Park.

The House Public Policy Committee voted 12-0 Thursday in favor of a bill by Rep. Sean Eberhart, a Shelbyville Republican. The measure would allow the Department of Natural Resources to obtain liquor permits for state parks.

That would allow Valparaiso businessman Chuck Williams of Pavilion Partners to bypass a state agency that denied him a liquor permit.

Williams says alcohol is needed to make his venture profitable, and a permit refusal could void his contract, requiring the state to reimburse him.

Opponents say the park should be free of commercials interests.