When the current development standards for Porter County were approved in
late 2007, the idea was for the document to be revisited every year for
After more than three years of operating under that Unified Development
Ordinance (UDO), a committee was formed this February to analyze how it was
One of the main findings of the committee after nine months of meetings
found was that the UDO worked well for large developments, but created some
unnecessarily complicated situations for individual property owners and
small developments, according to county commissioner Nancy Adams.
The committee, which was comprised of Adams, members of the plan commission
board, members of the board of zoning appeals, county planner Bob Thompson
along with a local lawyer, developer and architect, will present a modified
document to the plan commission board and the public at 6:30 tonight at a
meeting in the Porter County Administration Building.
In all, there are expected to be six proposed amendments to the current UDO,
five of which will be presented tonight. Amendments to the codes in the
categories of Subdivision Control, Development Plan, Planned Unit
Development, Signage and Property Maintenance will be on the agenda. Changes
to the Storm Water code will be discussed at a later date.
The major proposed changes will be the reinstatement of two standards that
had been cut out in the agreement enacted on Jan. 1, 2008, a minor
subdivision clause and planned unit developments.
The proposed minor subdivision ordinance will be to allow property owners a
one-time division of their property into a maximum of four lots only if that
property had not been previously subdivided under the old minor subdivision
Any additional subdividing would force the owner or developer to abide by
the large development guidelines.
Adams said the changes were important because the current UDO guidelines
were forcing property owners to hire lawyers and get expensive
computer-modeled drainage studies to build houses on their property or make
“The UDO is really for large subdivisions,” Adams said. “They didn’t take
into account small subdivision, single-home ownership or commercial. It’s
great for large subdivisions but not for the other things. Each area needs
to be addressed separately; that’s why we formed the committee.”
The planned unit development (PUD) is another guideline the county had in
the past but which hasn’t been used since 2008. There are at least five PUDs
in Porter County from the old agreements and Thompson said they should have
a place if done correctly. A PUD is a mixed-zoning development that has
different standards than normal abutting zoning areas
Bringing back the PUD standards is another way the committee is attempting
to lessen the number of variances and make the developing process less
complex. Adams said there have been more than 89 variances granted in the
last two years and Thompson said there hasn’t been a single development
since 2008 that hasn’t needed at least one variance from the BZA to move
forward. The top two requested variances had to do with landscaping and
storm water maintenance.
“The UDO is just not working the way it is supposed to be working,” Adams
said. “A lot of people have trouble just reading it. We wanted to make it
less complicated, easier to understand and make things easier to accomplish.
When you have that many variances coming to the BZA it puts them in a tough
situation too because you want to help someone out. If we can make the UDO
more accurate people won’t need all those variances and they can just adhere