Several Liberty Twp. residents are not welcoming the proposed medical campus
and senior living community proposed for U.S. 6. At Wednesday night’s Porter
County Plan Commission meeting several spoke out against the plan.
About 35 neighbors seated themselves in the commissioners’ chambers at the
county administration building as developers brought their request to rezone
four sections of the 106-acre parcel located immediately west of the new
Porter hospital on the northwest corner of U.S. 6 and Ind. 49 in Liberty
This was the first time the medical campus plans have gone before the county
planners. Plan Commission President Robert Harper, who also serves on the
Porter County Board of Commissioners, at the beginning of the meeting said
he anticipates the case being heard several more times before the planners
About ninety-six acres is owned by St. Andrews LLC, the petitioner, while
ten more acres scattered throughout the property are owned by three
residents who are joining in the rezoning.
Serving as legal counsel for St. Andrews is attorney Todd Leeth of Hoeppner
Wagner & Evans who is also representing the site’s planners, the Lannert
Group and Great Lakes Development.
Leeth and landscape architect Christopher Lannert highlighted plans for the
development in a slide presentation. The 47 acres in the parcel’s center is
designated for medical office buildings that would be utilized by hospital
physicians and is proposed to be zoned as an Office and Technology District
(OT). “It pairs extremely well with the hospital site which is zoned
Institutional,” said Leeth.
The 27-acre section north of the offices is planned for assisted living
facilities which would be rezoned to Multi-family Residential (R4).
The northern boundary would transition to the neighboring St. Andrews
subdivision that fronts CR 900N. Nearly 19 acres in the northernmost pocket
is planned to include several lifestyle housing units for senior residents
in the form of single family homes, duplexes, and possibly four-unit
multiplexes. The units may be multi-storied.
The site’s southern boundary, which drew the most comments during the
meeting, is petitioned to be rezoned as a High Intensity Commercial District
(CH). The 13.5 acres, which is split by a separate property not owned by St.
Andrews, is being proposed by the petitioners to include health-related
business such as a drug store and also restaurants for the convenience of
hospital workers and visitors.
The land, which is now a soybean field, is currently zoned as Single-family
Residential (R1), as are the properties surrounding it.
Lannert said the reason for the different rezoning requests was to provide a
smooth transition between the hospital and the neighboring properties. He
and Leeth felt this would be a better way to use the land since it seems
inevitable with the new hospital that more businesses will take root along
the U.S. 6 corridor.
Plans for the site’s entrance show a two-way boulevard style roadway off
U.S. 6 that would hook around the property divided by berm. The roadway
includes outlets that can access the St. Andrew subdivision in the north.
Another roadway would connect to the hospital property and help the hospital
meet the requirement for a second entryway.
Lannert said the design criteria are to provide a mixed-use campus to aid
the hospital’s vision and provide lifestyle housing for seniors.
Purchasers of the properties will be supplied maintenance such as having
their lawns mowed and snow shoveled.
Lannert said according to the topographical elevation the difference between
the highest and lowest spots across the parcel is about 100 feet. Twenty
acres of the property is allocated for open space for stormwater and
Parking lots will be surfaced with porous pavement which Lannert said would
be able to absorb the water. Instead of having water wash down into a pipe
or be rerouted, bioswales will align with the parking lots to capture the
water where it can be absorbed and evaporated to benefit the plant life that
filters the runoff.
The county’s stormwater regulations require sites to capture water that
comes on their parcel.
Lannert said wetlands will be delineated and the landowners do not wish to
carry water from one end of the property to the other.
Leeth said they will be going to the board of zoning appeals for a variance
for relief from the guideline to capture all the water because it would be
“virtually impossible” seeing there is a creek that streams through the
Leave It the Way
Almost all comments from the public heard by the plan commission were
critical of the petition to rezone, most being from residents of the Tanner
Trace subdivision which is only separated by a narrow buffer on the west
side of the St. Andrews property.
Tanner Trace resident Jim Colosino set the stage for an hour long procession
of comments by expressing his opposition. He said he was “confused” by the
fact the plan commission was even holding such a hearing when the county’s
Unified Development Ordinance “does not permit” R4, OT or CH zonings to be
adjacent to an R1 district.
Colosino went on to say he chose to live in the subdivision because of its
rural backdrop and believes the rezoning does not benefit any of the
landowners in Tanner Trace. He said the land should remain as farmland to
muffle the sounds and lights coming from the new hospital.
“I was here first! Leave it the way it is,” he said. “Who does the UDO
protect, the developer or the landowners?”
Liberty Twp. resident Gerald Hébert said the R4 rezoning violates the
provisions laid out by the UDO. He also said the county illegally zoned the
parcel for the hospital and warned what would happen if zoning violations by
the plan commission continue.
“You will destroy our Liberty Township community,” he said.
Similar comments were made by other Tanner Trace residents, saying that the
UDO says the rezoning would be a violation. Some said they chose the
location to get away from the “hustle and bustle” of cities. Others raised
safety concerns about the proposed entrance ways.
There were also concerns regarding drainage. Liberty Twp. resident J.F.
Schrader, who often speaks on drainage issues, said the nearby Damon Run is
one of the county’s biggest problem areas for drainage and at times floods
about 20 inches onto Meridian Rd.
Porter County Drainage Board member and Liberty Twp. resident Edwin Gutt
said he would like to hear what the plans are for drainage and if the
developers were willing to pay for the costs if flooding occurs.
Gutt also said the development around U.S. 6 is going to take off and, “like
dominos,” the plan commission will hear case after case of rezoning from
people wanting to set up businesses in the U.S. 6 corridor.
Not everyone who spoke was opposed to the rezoning but said they needed to
be guaranteed the developer will keep their promises such as using the R4
portion strictly for assisted living facilities and that the service
commercial district will not include strip malls.
Others stressed the plan commission should stand up for the well-being of
“We’re just people. We need you to help us,” said a Tanner Trace resident.
Alan Hewitt, president of the Liberty Twp. Landowners Associa-tion, said the
county’s ordinances for what is allowed in the zoning districts are stated
“It’s your duty to enforce the UDO,” he told the plan commission.
Plan Commission attorney Scott McClure told the Chesterton Tribune
after the meeting the rezonings would not be considered illegal. The UDO
gives recommendations of what zonings would be appropriate to adjoin a
specified district, he said.
Leeth told the county planners the developers will comply with all sides of
the law and will uphold the county UDO. Each rezoning request has been
carefully planned and Leeth stood firm in his claim that the development
will transition the hospital use well with the surrounding residencies.
Leeth said that Lannert is well-suited to design the bioswale system and
that surface water will be protected before it becomes groundwater.
He said that the CH and OT Districts would eliminate the pressure of placing
an office building or restaurant further from the hospital.
The plans for the roadway winding through the property have not been set in
stone, Leeth said, as it would need to meet the approval of the Indiana
Department of Transportation. “This is only the first stop,” Leeth said.
Leeth told the county planners the project will not be in violation of the
state’s agreement with the nearby privatized toll road. A concern was
addressed at a presentation last month that the toll road lease would
prohibit the expansion of U.S. 6, but Leeth said the policy is only in
regards to new highways that would compete with toll road.
Scheduled for Aug. 25
County planners said they would need to balance the issues as they move
Commission member Kris Parker said her peers face “very intense pressure”
and hopes the planning will continue to be a public process. She said the
commission must realize more people are moving to the area and that progress
will take place. “I think the reality is this will not stay as a cornfield
for the next 20 years,” she said.
Commission member Tim Cole says he faces the challenge of defending both the
county and the interests of Liberty Twp. where he is a resident. He said if
he ends up voting in favor of the rezoning, he will rely on the promises of
the developer and hopes the property is not neglected due to poor planning
Harper lastly commented he would like to see a larger buffer space between
the U.S. 6 roadway and the business that will go into the proposed
The plan commission board agreed with Harper’s earlier comments that more
discussion is needed before the board takes a vote.
The commission unanimously approved holding a public work session that will
take place on Aug. 25 at the Porter County Administration Building.