Chesterton Tribune



Planners oppose rezoning for wedding venue 8-0

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The Porter County Plan Commission Wednesday reopened the public hearing for a rezoning to allow a wedding venue at the northeast corner of Ind. 149 and CR 875N in Liberty Township and voted 8-0 against the request.

The case was continued at the December meeting after the commission failed to reach a 5-vote majority with three voting to reject out of seven members present.

Lilac Ridge, LLC, represented by attorney Todd Leeth presented the plans in December showing a 6,500 sq. ft. hall to be used as a wedding venue or an event center with up to 80 parking spaces on a 11-acre parcel abutting Ind. 149. The request was to change the zoning from Rural Residential to Moderate Intensity Commercial.

One of the most discussed topics was the plan for a mounded commercial septic system. Leeth said it would otherwise cost the petitioner $183,000 to extended sanitary sewer lines according to engineering plans made by The Duneland Group.

Leeth reiterated his points Wednesday that even though the parcel shares its boundaries with agriculture and residential properties, Ind. 149 is a state road with over 10,000 cars traveling per day.

“This is a commercial corridor,” Leeth said. He also stated that the parcel “is isolated” from surrounding properties by natural features that sets it apart.

Neighbors packed the meeting room with about twice the turnout from December.

Many of them wore green T-shirts saying no to the rezone and listed the type of uses that are allowable in a Moderate Commercial Intensity zone under the County’s Unified Development Ordinance.

The public hearing was closed in December but attorney Brian Hurley requested the hearing be reopened at the request of his client, Kathleen Shaw, who resides east of the parcel.

Planner and County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke made a motion to reopen the hearing which was approved by all his peers. A unanimous agreement is required to do so, said County Planning Director Robert Thompson.

Hurley argued the points of putting a commercial use venue in a rural area. He asked what was the point of putting conditions on the rezone if it shouldn’t be there in the first place.

“This is the kind of parcel where you drive up and see nothing but residential and agriculture uses,” he said. “If you’re putting on all these conditions, maybe you should not rezone the property to begin with.”

Commission President Robert Poparad invited others to speak but only if they had new information. In December, many of the comments consisted mainly of traffic concerns and general safety. There were references to that Wednesday but many neighbors this time voiced remonstrations over noise from events that would be held at the venue.

“I will be calling the Sheriff any time I hear noise,” said David Griffith.

Michelle Nix who lives in Harvest Acres north of the Lilac Ridge property said she can see headlights from Ind. 49 and doesn’t want any more traffic. Her neighbors in Harvest Acres value what they have like the walking trail, she said

“It’s a great community. We have children,” Nix said.

Accident records

Nix’s husband said many of the local traffic accidents occur near the Salt Creek crossing bridge which is why the Sheriff’s Departments may not have records of accidents at the CR 875N and Ind. 149 intersection.

Leeth had mentioned at the December meeting that there were no records by the Sheriff’s Police of accidents in the last three years at the intersection. However, Thompson said one of his staff checked into it and initially the Sheriff’s Department did not find any records. However, some were found after a second check, Thompson said, although none were fatal from that time period.

Neighbors Catherine Johnson and Griffith recalled times when there were deaths caused by traffic accidents. “I’ve seen bodies on the ground,” Griffith said.

Breitzke said he has spoken to the Indiana Department of Transportation and found they are looking into putting in left turn lanes as Ind. 149 slopes down past the Salt Creek crossing.

Many speakers thanked the Commission for allowing them to speak even when they expected they wouldn’t get to. Audience member Diana Cook thanked those who voted against the request last time and warned the rest of the planners that the residents are Porter County voters.

“This could make or break someone getting into office,” Cook said.


Following the closing of the public hearing, no one on the Commission sought further discussion.

Planner Rick Burns made the motion to deny the recommendation. The vote was counted 8-0.

Thompson said a recommendation to deny will be sent to the County Commissioners prior to their Feb. 21 meeting.

Doctor’s office rezone tabled

Tabled again to February was Dr. Maryann M. Jones’ request to rezone seven 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 physicians office/medical clinic.



Posted 1/26/2017




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