Tuesday evening’s special meeting of the Porter County Plan Commission Board
has the potential to radically change the county’s development ordinances.
The special meeting was called to review and discuss proposed changes to the
Unified Development Ordinances (UDO) that are being recommended by a special
committee. The UDO review committee, which is made up of commissioner Nancy
Adams, two plan commission board members and local developers and business
owners, has been studying the current UDO over the past months and is
presenting a new 61-page document publically at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Board members were just presented with the lengthy and complex document late
last week and it’s unclear if a vote to recommend the changes to the
commissioners will be held Tuesday or at a future plan commission meeting.
A major proposed change would be a minor subdivision ordinance, which has
been rejected by county officials in the past, and would allow a parcel to
be split in four sections without adhering to the subdivision-creation
guidelines. There would also be no limit on how many times an owner could
subdivide in this way or a limit on time between such requests.
In addition to that ordinance a committee is being proposed to hear such
requests, so minor subdivision requests could be approved without knowledge
of the entire board or a public hearing.
Another major change would be to the planned unit development (PUD)
ordinance. A PUD allows for the mixture of zoning areas and the proposal
would greatly lessen the restrictions on developers.
Plan commissioner board member Herb Read said he was “livid” about this
proposal because it would give developers little resistance to do things
such as build commercial properties on zoned park land.
“The revised PUD would allow them in any zoning, including parks,” Read
said. “It doesn’t come out and say the restrictions on park land are going
to be removed, but it just makes it possible that someone could put a PUD on
it. Then it basically makes any other restrictions moot. (Developers) can do
whatever they want that is permitted in a PUD.”
Some of the other changes in the proposed document include reductions in
landscaping and open space requirements, changes to the storm water
standards, changes to signage limitations and an amendment to the property
Read said he believes some of the proposed changes are good and some he
disagrees with, but his major concern is that the new document will be
pushed forward Tuesday without allowing time for the board to give it proper
review. Read said some of the proposed changes have come up before but had
been opposed by officials including former commissioner president Bob
“I haven’t even read all of the 61 pages and I have found things that I
think are to the determinant of those of us who want to preserve the
environment and existing residential areas,” Read said. “The whole concept
(of the proposed changes) is to make things easier and cheaper for