A meeting to discuss recommended additions to the county’s stormwater
ordinance and manual in Porter County’s Unified Development Ordinance
followed a similar pattern seen at recent plan commission meetings
introducing a series of amendments to the UDO.
Planners Sylvia Graham and Herb Read prepared a list of concerns they wanted
clarified by those proposing the amendments. A committee was formed last
year to look at what was working in the UDO and many of the same regulations
are included in proposed additions but will apply to smaller subdivisions
and developments, said Plan Commission Executive Director Bob Thompson and
President Nancy Adams.
At the start of the discussion, Graham voiced disapproval of implementing
any changes to the ordinance, contending the current UDO practices are
working. Changing the rules, she said, would muddle the distinction of what
applications are performing properly.
“I have some concerns about the (amendments) on a whole. I’m not sure we
need to have updates to the stormwater ordinance,” said Graham.
Believing that growth in the county is inevitable, Graham was concerned the
changes could have an adverse effect on areas that have drainage hardships
such as the Damon Run watershed.
Thompson said the amendments would actually give the county more flexibility
to make further improvements, such as the ability to perform studies and
adjust the release rate in Damon Run if needed. The plans take into
consideration protecting environmental factors that were brought up in UDO
committee meetings similar to what is already in the UDO, he said. The new
standards would apply mainly to minor subdivisions and smaller developments
left out of the UDO. For larger subdivisions, no changes or additional
regulations will be made.
Just as in the five other sets of amendments suggested by the UDO committee,
the additions aim not to be lenient on development plans, but make planning
less arduous for the developer or homeowner who would normally need to
procure numerous variances from the Board of Zoning Appeals ever since the
current UDO was enacted in 2008. Some stormwater provisions require trees to
be removed from a water basin and retention ponds in front yards but, as has
been demonstrated, may not be best for all developments.
Thompson said the amendments would also give them freedom to use other “good
and acceptable” engineering procedures besides having to create a detailed
computer model of the developing basins that would require a large amount of
input on the developer’s part.
He also said that Porter County Drainage Board President Dave Burrus has
suggested a system to regularly check or investigate developments taking
Plan Commission attorney Scott McClure clarified saying there are no radical
changes being made and that the amendments are very specific, accomplishing
the same outcomes of the existing stormwater ordinance. “This is not in any
way an overhaul of that ordinance or stormwater manual.”
Graham and fellow planner Herb Read appreciated the explanation but both
strongly insisted that somewhere in the ordinance it should be clearly
stated that developments cannot drain stormwater on to their neighbor’s
property without their permission to do so.
“Until we get that clarification, that’s going to be a problem,” said Read.
Thompson and Anthony Kenning of DLZ Indiana showed in the amendments the
different sections that prohibit developers from doing such a thing, setting
the grading and floors at specific elevations.
Read also feared that some of the proposed code requirements relating to
environmental elements are worded so broadly that they would allow any
developer to do what they pleased. Kenning said those sentences could be
stricken and reviewers will be there to see if developers actions are
Other suggestions Read made included a clearer definition in the code on
wetlands and another suggestion the county should not advocate building in a
Graham said she is still hearing complaints from residents living in
subdivisions experiencing flooding woes. Thompson said the new amendments
would give him the ability to enforce UDO standards on future developments
where solutions could be made but cannot touch older developments like
subdivisions that were developed under former codes, some dating back almost
The commission refrained from voting on the amendments as Adams announced at
the start of the discussion the goal that evening was to hear questions from
plan commission members and smooth out the areas that drew concerns. The
case was continued, by unanimous vote, until the next planner meeting in
February. Also tabled is a sixth group of amendments concerning property
“It’s a good start on getting all this cleaned up. It’s not going to happen
overnight. It’s step-by-step,” said Adams.
Some members made plans to gather informally next week to make additional
changes in preparation for the February commission meeting.
In other business, the planners voted 7-0 for secondary plat approval of the
Vendramin Subdivision located along CR 400E in Jackson Twp.
Retained for 2012
The planners voted to keep the same officer appointments from last year.
Adams was voted president for a second year and Richard Maxey will again
take the vice-president seat. Thompson will continue as executive director
in the planners’ staff appointments and McClure was picked as the commission
and BZA attorney.
Planner Tim Cole was reappointed as the planners’ representative on the BZA