Chesterton Tribune

Porter County Plan Commission to hold second meeting changes to development rules

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On Monday, the Porter County Plan Commission will continue its series of meetings reviewing and possibly approving proposed amendments to the county Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).

Having approved changes to the UDO regarding minor subdivisions and LED signage on Nov. 2, the commission will turn its attention to three more proposals including changes to the Planned Unit Development (UDO) ordinance.

Plan Commission Executive Director Bob Thompson said the county has not formed a PUD since the existing UDO was enacted in 2008. The standards were essentially eliminated and this new amendment will help reestablish them.

PUDs are mixed-use properties whose features and regulations are different than adjacent areas and are agreed upon by the developer and county planners.

Enacting the new PUD standards will help lessen the number of requested variances which have been seen for every development that has come before the county since the existing UDO was established.

Another proposal concerns amending the UDOís section on development plans. It suggests that any smaller projects for commercial, institutional, industrial or multi-family will be viewed by a development review committee rather than the 9-member plan commission. Thompson said an amendment was made about 2005 that required these plans to be presented to the plan commission for its approval and the amendment reverts back to having them screened by the committee instead.

Larger projects in those zoned areas will still need to be petitioned to the plan commission for its approval.

The third amendment deals with the UDOís guidelines on property maintenance and determines what would be considered a possible threat for the publicís health and safety such as dilapidated machinery, unkempt areas and swimming pools, and unmanaged vegetation.

The amendment regarding modifications to the countyís stormwater ordinance will be held off until a later date in order to allow planners enough time to look over a draft of the proposal. It is likely the board will meet to discuss it in December, Thompson said.

There are a total of six amendments in all. A committee was formed in February when President and County Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, asked that the UDO be looked at to determine where its troubled areas were. The plan was designed mainly to guide large subdivisions without taking into account small subdivision developments, Adams said.

At an earlier meeting this month, the commission approved 7-2 regulations for minor subdivisions (parcels that include a maximum of four lots). Such developments will be reviewed by the development review committee instead of the plan commission and forgoes a requirement to hold a public hearing. The major subdivision ordinance, for parcels with five or more lots, will remain as it is.

A unanimous vote pushed for an amendment to be made to the ordinances that relate to signage requirements. The county will now allow LED billboards in industrial areas as long as the four regular billboards are removed.

The plan commission will meet in the Commissionerís chambers or Suite 205 of the Porter County Administration Building (155 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso) at 6:30 p.m. Monday.



Posted 11/18/2011