Chesterton Tribune

Porter County planners deny plat approval for Jackson Township subdivision

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Porter County Plan Commission voted on Wednesday against establishing a primary plat for the proposed Woodland View Subdivision on LaPorte County Line Rd. in Jackson Township. Commission members said they were unwilling to give approval because it was unclear whether the plan was in line with the county’s drainage rules.

Developer Mike Duffy of the Duneland Group presented a petition of Ronald and Susan Stangebye of Niles, Michigan, to the commission that would take the first steps toward developing the 17.9-acre subdivision along CR 950W and County Line Rd., but several neighboring residents heeded warning that building in that area could create major problems regarding stormwater drainage.

“It’s terrible over there,” said Phillip Blackwell whose property adjoins the property in question. Blackwell provided the commission with a video slideshow showing the effects of excessive flooding during last year’s heavy rainfall.

Blackwell told the commission the culvert on County Line Road near the property is caving in and that patches of the road are collapsing. He said the road has sunk three inches in the eleven years he has resided there.

Neighboring resident Charlie Allison said the neighbors have experienced water running through their yards and feels the area residents need to be better informed before building of new homes and septic take place.

“The information is not forthcoming,” said Allison.

Others told similar stories saying the water level has been “up to their knees” and concurred with Allison that more information needs to be given on what exactly the plans are.

The plans had already been granted a stormwater variance from the Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals in 2008, Duffy said, along with two other ordinances to waive a sidewalk that would be built along the road and to exempt site distance requirements for landscape.

Duffy also presented the case to the county plan commission in 2008 originally with an eight-lot subdivision plan which was also denied. The new plan calls for the property to be divided into four lots.

Duffy said a previous landowner had the ditch along the road filled which is why the area has had its flooding problems. Blackwell said before the ditch was filled, it only took six to eight hours after rainfall for the water to finish draining. Neighbor John Kadish said the owner sold the property and left, “leaving everybody else holding the bag.”

“The water has nowhere to go,” said Kadish.

Duffy said LaPorte County Highway Department is agreeing to clear the ditch and restore the tile underneath. He said the developers will not seek final plat approval until the ditch has been corrected.

Commission member Elizabeth Marshall said that she believes the problem is much bigger than what Duffy had reported and that she would be reluctant to support the project until LaPorte gives a timeline for it.

A concern was brought up by commission member Herb Read who suspected the drainage plans do not follow county code and said it was apparent to him that stormwater would run across the neighbors’ property.

Commission President Robert Harper concurred with Read saying the code says water passed through a property has to go through either a regulated drain, a defined waterway, or an easement from the neighboring property.

Harper suggested to commission attorney Scott McClure to look into the matter and see if that is how the code stands or if there is possibly some “wiggle room” considering the BZA had approved of a stormwater variance.

“We need to have it developed right or the county taxpayers will have to pay for it,” said Harper.

Before making a motion, commission member Robert Detert said the plan seems to be “sitting on a promise” from LaPorte County and deemed it to be “premature.” The council voted 7-1 on Detert’s motion to disallow the request with county surveyor Kevin Breitzke having the lone no vote.

In his defense, Duffy reiterated the plan did meet a variance with the BZA. Duffy said the variance was met because DLZ Indiana calculated that the developed rate of runoff on the property was less than the pre-developed rate.

Commission Tables Liberty Township Rezone Petition

A request to rezone a 30.8-acre parcel located at the northwest corner of CR 1050N and CR 125W from Industrial-1 to Agriculture-1 has been voted 8-0 to continue the request at a later date.

John Hannon of Great Lakes Engineering representing property owner Charles Coker of Menomonie, Wisconsin, said he intends to develop the property into three lots slightly more than ten acres each to be developed as hobby farms.

Commission members were concerned once more about the drainage issues near the property which lies directly south of the Wabash Railroad line which separates the property from the adjoining Brassie Golf Course.

Hannon said he agrees that the drainage should be rectified before any building may begin and only wanted to get a recommendation from the commission. He discussed the issue with the Porter County Drainage Board earlier this week and said the existing culvert under the non-operating railroad had collapsed is looking to have it replaced. The new culvert will allow water to flow in the roadside ditch along CR 125W, which will then flow into a public easement on the golf course’s property.

Hannon said the property is zoned industrial because of its location to the railroad and would need to be zoned to agriculture to use the land for desired purposes. The land may be used as working farms or possibly a truck farm for supplying fresh produce to farmer’s markets.

Marshall said there is still the possibility the parcel may be used for industrial purposes and said more information is needed on the plans to control drainage.

After the commission voted to table the case, Hannon was told to submit the plan again when the drainage board is able to make a report.

 

Posted 4/15/2010