- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - An embattled privatization deal for a proposed restaurant, bar and banquet center at Indiana Dunes State Park will get a boost under a bill signed by Gov. Mike Pence.

The measure will allow politically connected developer Chuck Williams of Valparaiso to sell alcohol at the planned development along the Lake Michigan beachfront. It circumvents a local board and the state’s Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, which both denied Williams a permit.

Opponents point to favorable lease terms with the state parks system, which grant Williams control of the site for decades in exchange for $18,000 in yearly rent and 2 percent of sales. Williams’ company says an alcohol permit is necessary to make the project viable.

The governor’s office says Pence signed the bill Thursday, but provided no additional comment.

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