Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Medical campus and multi unit housing proposed for US 6

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Planners for the future medical campus near the new Porter hospital drew back the curtain revealing the details of the site in Liberty Twp. to about 20 neighboring residents and a few members of the Porter County Plan Commission during an informal presentation on Thursday at the Evelyn Bay Coffee Company in Valparaiso.

The new medical campus and park will be developed on a 106-acre parcel by St. Andrew LLC and will be located immediately west of the 104-acre parcel that is currently being developed by Porter Hospital on the northwest corner of the Ind. 49 and U.S. 6 intersection. Hospital developers began clearing the land for construction on Thursday.

Pat Kleihege of Great Lakes Development said the presentation was to educate neighboring residents while receiving their input before the plans to rezone the property go before the Porter County Plan Commission on July 14.

Kleihege, along with associate Chris Lannert of the Illinois-based Lannert Group, said the group will petition to divide the 106-acres into four separate zonings.

As the plans go from North to South, the northernmost 27.2 acres are petitioned to be rezoned to Multiple-family Residential (R4), 18.8 acres expect to be zoned Two-family Residential (R3), 47 acres are planned to be used for Office and Technology (OT), and the 13.5 acres touching the U.S. 6 boundary are petitioned to be rezoned as Commercial (CH). The parcel and the surrounding properties are currently zoned as Rural Residential (RR).

On the 106 acres, ten acres include three existing homes not owned by the developers. Kleihege said he has been in talks with those property owners and said they will be joining the petition to rezone.

A medical office complex will sit near the center of the development that will be of use to many physicians who work at the new hospital.

The acreage zoned R4 will feature some form of age-restrictive housing for senior citizens ages 55 or older and will allow for the inclusion of assisted living facilities or nursing home, Lannert said.

Lannert showed audience members various styles of housing that could be built in the R3 and R4 areas to accommodate a variety of buyer preferences. The houses could be single-family sized houses, duplexes, four-plexes and carriage houses. These residences can be built into a cluster of six or eight units on the same square block.

Maintenance will be provided to those living in the senior lifestyle housing, such as mowing the lawn in the summer and shoveling snow in the winter, Lannert said.

The homes will transition the property from the medical campuses to the surrounding residential areas to the north such as the Timberland subdivision on CR 900N. The roads will all be connected allowing the site to be accessed from the surrounding subdivisions, except for the Tanner Trace subdivision to the west.

The area zoned for mixed-use medical buildings will link its road with the hospital, giving the hospital its needed second point of entry, Lannert said.

“It becomes a very valuable marketing tool and a way to complement the hospital site,” he said.

Lannert said the main entranceway will be off U.S. 6 on the west border of the development where the elevation is at its highest, providing the best visibility. The area surrounding the entranceway will be service commercial and convenience commercial and may possibly feature gift shops, restaurants or coffee shops that will appeal to hospital visitors.

The entranceway will be crescent-shaped divided by a median and will serpentine through the property.

Site Elevation Prompts

Drainage Concerns

Lannert said the shape of the roadways will help with capturing the potential runoff. The site will use bio swales to collect stormwater rather than put the water into inlets or drains, “mirroring” the guidelines ruled by the county’s Unified Development Ordinance.

“It’s better to capture drainage where it is going than to reroute it,” said Lannert.

Lannert said a master association will be responsible for “big picture” drainage and will be diversified to smaller individual associations.

Kleighe said Indiana American Water will be the site’s water provider, same as the hospital. He also said they are waiting to see who the hospital will pick as their sewer utility provider, either Chesterton Utility or Damon Run, before making any commitment.

The drainage will need to be guided as the difference in elevation from north and south is approximately 100 feet, which Lannert admitted is no small figure. “That’s almost a ten-story building.”

Plan Commission member Herb Read, one of the two members who voted against hospital plan approval last month, said he warned hospital officials about the “massive” difference in elevation and felt his questions were dodged as to what the hospital’s plans are for maintaining the site.

Read told the planners it will probably end up that they would need to take care of the hospital’s runoff as well as their own. Runoff is going to build because of horizontal surfaces, he said.

Read warned the audience that if someone were to decide to build on the stubs near the northern part of the hospital property, “everyone here better start investing in rubber boats.”

Lannert said the developers are respecting the county’s drainage ordinances and will be using best management practices.

Potential Traffic Woes

Alarm Neighbors

While no member of the audience spoke against the development, two Tanner Trace residents felt the west entranceway was a little too close to comfort.

“There are times now where traffic is backed up all the way to Highway 49,” one resident said.

“We’re never going to get in and out of our subdivisions!” another one said.

Kleihege said the hospital is looking into methods of traffic control such as acceleration/deceleration lanes. Already in the plans is a traffic light at the hospital’s entrance on U.S. 6 and perhaps a second somewhere on the adjoining properties.

Residents said they anticipate a challenging intersection and felt it would be better if U.S. 6 could be widened, but the situation is complicated due to the close proximity of toll road. The new purchasers of the toll road could object to widening nearby highways.

Plan Commission member Tim Cole said it is up to the state legislators to make the necessary changes and agreements to widen U.S. 6. The Indiana Department of Transportation has seemingly dropped the intention to widen the highway since the Major Moves initiative was instated by the governor, he said, and told audience members they need to speak to their local representatives.

“It needs to be widened now,” said Cole.

More Information Available Soon

Kleihege and Lannert said it is indeterminable when the development will break ground or what portion of the property will be developed first.

Lannert said the development will be built in phases.

Kleihege plans to launch a website that will keep residents up-to-date with the progress. The address for the web portal is www.portermedicalcampus.com

 but currently is under construction.

 

 

Posted 6/25/2010

 

 

 

 

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