A group of
residents spoke out against a rezoning proposed for a 6,500 sq. ft. wedding
venue and event center at the northeast corner of Ind. 149 and CR 875E in
Liberty Twp. at Wednesday’s Porter County Advisory Plan Commission meeting.
The Commission was
down two members and ended up having to continue the case until next month
after voting 3-4 on a motion to deny, failing to make a majority requiring
Not present at the
meeting were Commission members Laura Blaney and Lyndsay Ploehn.
In other matters,
Director of County’s Development and Stormwater Management Department Robert
Thompson said the rezoning request by Dr. Maryann Jones to change seven
acres on the north side of U.S. 6 between 75 west and Meridian Rd. from a
Manufactured Home Park District to a Moderate Intensity Commercial district
will be continued at the request of the petitioner.
Planners did vote
unanimously 7-0 to extend the renewal of the primary plat for three years
starting in June of The Preserve Subdivision located at the southeast
intersection of CR 1050N and CR 50W in Liberty Twp. as well as a secondary
plat approval for phase one of the subdivision.
Plans for wedding
The location eyed
for the proposed wedding venue and event center, on the boundary of Liberty
and Portage townships, was met with opposition from several neighbors
wishing to see the site remain zoned rural residential.
Making the request
is resident Karen Lange and her company Lilac Ridge, LLC, which was
represented by attorney Todd Leeth.
Leeth started with
a PowerPoint presentation showing many views of the property, which is
bordered by Salt Creek on the north side and surrounded by woods.
The venue is a fit
choice for the property since it is in the Ind. 149 corridor, a major
thoroughfare in the county, Leeth said. “The site is ideal for commercial
drawings and plans show 80 parking places and there would be acceleration
and deceleration lanes at the entrance. The petitioner will return to the
County’s Development Review Committee with final plans for site engineering.
Water is ready to provide water utilities and a septic system is being
planned for sewer, Leeth said.
Environmental Associates will enhance landscaping to the east, Leeth added.
“We want a first
class (business) that we and the County can be proud of as well,” Leeth
Jane Smith was the
first of 12 residents to speak during the public hearing and said she
worries the intersection will produce more accidents with the event center
there. She is concerned about noise pollution and asked why the petitioner
can’t find another location, like the vacant parcel at U.S. 6 and Ind. 149.
“All we have is
just farmland and houses and we would like to keep it that way,” Smith said.
Kathleen Shaw, who
lives immediately east of the property, said her family has “avid astronomy
buffs” and would like to not have the lights from the venue cause problems.
She said she also wanted to know how a septic system would be adequate for
the crowds of people using the center. Neighbor Gerald Klich said he thinks
that type of sewage system is not environmentally sound next to Salt Creek.
including David Griffith, expressed apprehensions about traffic at the Ind.
149 and CR 875N intersection which comes over a hill.
dangerous out there. Very dangerous,” Griffith said.
Gale Reich said
that she “doesn’t want any more fatalities in front of her house” as once a
motorcyclist died in a crash, and Julie Haas said that she has had two drunk
drivers crash through her property in the last year. Haas said traffic
controls like a traffic light should be put there.
Some neighbors like
Diana Cook and Joseph Buttons questioned if the center would be a viable
In rebuttal, Leeth
argued that the intersection has “plenty of sight distance,” up to 970 feet,
and the Porter County Sheriff’s Police told him that no accidents have
occurred there in the past three years. The venue would have police security
at events, he added.
The Indiana State
Board of Health would need to approve the commercial septic system and the
plans will be made by Soil Solutions, Inc., Leeth said.
The septic system
and road traffic were concerns shared by a few Commission members. Planner
Rick Burns said there is a lot of traffic on Ind. 149 and he thinks a
stoplight is needed there. He also said he does not like the prospect of
having a septic tank near the creek and said the County’s Unified
Development Ordinance requires a sanitary sewer on site.
Peters said CR 875N comes up quickly when you drive over the hill on Ind.
149, and as for visibility, “it’s bad there.”
Planner Ken William
concurred those are “justifiable concerns.”
Kevin Breitzke said he will ask the state about putting in a traffic light
but knows there are criteria to be met before they can do that, such as the
number of accidents occurring. The State has also made the argument that a
light can cause more problems at intersections, he said.
President Robert Poparad said he travels Ind. 149 frequently and has seen
accidents near CR 875N. He wondered if the Indiana State Police would have
different records than the County Police.
The Commission can
only make a recommendation on a rezoning and it is not their job to decide
traffic issues, Poparad told the audience. The way the zoning is now on
different sides of the intersection, he said, a neighbor could build a
ten-home subdivision which would potentially have more traffic than a
Voting in favor of
Burn’s Motion to deny the request were Burns, Breitzke and Ken Williams.
Planners Kyle Yelton, Peters, Luther Williams and Poparad voted against
without a majority of votes on either side, the case is automatically
continued to next month.