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