Planners five years ago put a plan together to establish the U.S. 6 overlay
district with the intent to guide new development near Porter Regional
The plan was
approved for recommendation to the County Board of Commissioners unanimously
by the Plan Commission in April 2012, following months of gathering input
from the public and work by a special committee to study the U.S. 6
corridor. However, the County Commissioners never did vote on an ordinance
and the district has yet to be implemented.
It appears that the
overlay district will get another chance as the Plan Commission Wednesday
voted 8-0 to send a favorable recommendation to the Commissioners on a
revised overlay plan for their consideration.
Director of the
County Department of Development Stormwater Management and Development
Robert Thompson said the Commissioners in 2012 had dropped the plan over
concerns they had with the design standards, particularly in the central
area near the Ind. 49 bypass where the hospital is located.
Scott McClure said the current Commissioner Board, consisting of three
members who were not in power in 2012, is making the effort to get the
issues addressed because new properties and development will be coming soon.
They hope adding the U.S. 6 overlay district into the County’s Unified
Development Ordinance (UD) will eliminate confusion for developers and
property owners about what exactly the standards are instead of having to
worry that the rules could change.
“The reason we put
this together is we are anticipating a significant amount of development in
this area. There is a reason why specific rules were made for this area so
it is time to get this back on track,” McClure said.
The corridor will
keep the same four subdistricts as previously discussed. A far West
subdistrict between Portage city boundary to Ind. 49; a West Central
district from Ind. 149 to a quarter mile west of Meridian Rd.; a Central
subdistrict from a quarter mile west of Meridian to Calumet Avenue on the
east of Ind. 49; and an Eastern subdistrict from Calumet Ave. all the way to
the LaPorte County line.
Thompson said new
changes to the ordinance include having the existing gas stations in the
central subdistrict at Meridian Rd. and N. Calumet Ave. be in conforming
use. Gas stations and convenience stores will be allowed within 1,320 feet
of the east and center lines of Meridian Rd. and North Calumet, he said.
district will be held to its own standards and the code will not apply to
other overlay districts like the arterial road overlay and the scenic
roadway overlay within Chapter 3 of the UDO. Thompson said before there was
nothing in the ordinance to prevent applying those codes. The U.S. 6 overlay
will have buffer requirements less than what is required for other overlay
Also, Thompson said
he would like to remove the requirement for a 6/12 roof for any
non-residential development. He said instead of requiring developers to come
in for a variance, he’d rather have the plan commission or development
review committee approve the roof design based on review.
The ordinance still
encourages having pitched roofs, Thompson said. If developers want a flat
roof, they will need to make sure that all mechanical equipment on rooftops
are hidden from plain view, he said.
Most of the
ordinance covers access management. It will apply the same standards posted
by the Indiana Department of Transportation, Thompson said.
Nearly a dozen
Liberty Twp. residents attended the meeting, many of whom are members of the
Woodville Foundation which is a non-profit dedicated to monitoring and
influencing future development of the township.
Resident Tim Cole,
who sat on the plan commission at the time the district was proposed, said
he continues to support the ordinance. He said a large number of residents
supported the overlay in 2012 because “it meant orderly development.”
The overlay should
be in place, he said, considering the area has many features now like the
hospital, the adjacent business park and Sunset Hill Farm County Park and it
could “get messy” with future developments.
interested in Porter County and they are getting interested in U.S. 6,” he
Ed Gutt and Herb
Read who live along U.S. 6 urged that the ordinance maintains its buffer
zone. McClure said the required buffer between commercial and residential
properties is 40 feet, with something in between such as a fence or
Gutt asked that
buffer zones be made compatible with residential properties.
resident Terry Dee said that he hopes the ordinance addresses light
trespassing in consideration of the residential properties
Johnson said her concern is flooding of new homes on CR 900N. She hopes the
new ordinance will address violations to fix issues. She said she was told
before that the County did not have staff or funding available to monitor or
Johnson, Thompson said his department is aware of the drainage issues as it
was one of the top ten projects mentioned in the County’s study of
stormwater runoff. With the creation of the County Stormwater Management
Department and the user fee approved by the County Commissioners, the office
now has an avenue to alleviate drainage woes in the Damon Run Watershed.
voted 8-0 to accept the changes and forward them with a favorable
recommendation to the Commissioners. Absent on Wednesday was planner Luther
will hold a public hearing for the U.S. 6 Overlay ordinance on first reading
at their next meeting -- Tuesday, March 14, at 10 a.m.
At the start of
Wednesday’s meeting, the Commission voted a third time to continue Dr.
Maryann Jones’ request to rezone ten acres on the north side of U.S. 6
between 75 West and Meridian Rd. from a Manufactured Home Park district to
Moderate Intensity Commercial District for a proposed physician’s
Attorney for the
petitioner Todd Leeth said that Jones is not ready to proceed and if the
petition is revived, he will let County planning staff know.