The Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday approved a request to
renovate an old farmhouse and build another on an adjoining parcel near the
corner of CR 150W and CR 1050N in Liberty Township.
A and J Development which owns two five-acre parcels at 155 W CR 1050N
petitioned the board to allow Single-family residential on each of the
five-acre parcels that are zoned Light Industrial (LI). Residential
dwellings are not permitted uses in an LI district according to the Unified
Development Ordinance, which is why a variance is required.
John Klumpe of Valparaiso, president of A and J Development, and attorney
William Ferngren said the property is well suited for residential
developments. The land is flat and other residential homes surround the
area, they said.
Klumpe said he intends to sell the homes and the lots once construction is
Each parcel will have a well and septic system to avoid the expense of
hooking up to municipal utility connections. Ferngren said the developers
are working with the Porter County Health Department to adequately address
what will need to be done to implement a new septic system.
The eastern parcel contains a vacant century-old farmhouse that Klumpe said
he will rehabilitate along with other improvements around the property such
as removing debris and fixing up the outbuildings to preserve the rural
aspects. The property is located immediately south of the Brassie Golf
“It’s going to look really slick,” Klumpe said.
Agreeing were all board members, who voted unanimously 5-0 in favor of the
“I think it will be a beautiful house once it’s finished,” said BZA member
Rick Burns who said clean up should be made a condition of the variance.
The public hearing portion saw one neighbor who expressed concerns over the
septic system. Raymond Adams who lives to the east of the development said
while he is not against the petition as he agrees the property will be
improved but advised of issues with the septic in the old house that had
caused a “stink” for the neighborhood.
Ferngren said there is a septic plan the developers will proceed with once
the variances are in place.
BZA members cautioned Klumpe that being in an LI district, businesses may
build in the future.
The reason for the zoning has to do with a railroad right-of-way that
existed years ago, according to BZA member Marvin Brickner. The county set
up an industrial district with the potential that manufacturers could use
the railroads to transport their goods to the Port of Indiana.
Fellow BZA member Tim Cole said the property was formerly owned by the St.
Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. He remembers people were “twiddling
their thumbs” 40 years ago waiting for industries to build factories but
nothing ever came about.
The zoning has never been changed even though the railroad right-of-way no
Klumpe said he believes the zoning can be seen as plus for the potential
buyer since they would have the ability to run a small business with the
“The way I see it that would be optimal” he said.