Chesterton Tribune



Burns Harbor BZA denies variances for garage

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A Burns Harbor resident will not be allowed to build a stand-alone garage on a lot adjacent to his home in the Trail Creek subdivision.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the Board of Zoning Appeals voted unanimously to reject two variances sought by John Mottinger of 208 Trail Creek Drive.

Mottinger had requested a use variance to build a garage on a lot without a principal structure; and a development standard variance to build a larger garage than permitted by the Zoning Ordinance.

Mottinger told the board that his sole reason for wanting the garage--on a lot which he bought immediately adjacent to his main lot--is to have a place to park both his car and his truck. He said that the 2.5-car garage would have the same brick and siding of his house, that he would plant two trees at the front of the adjacent lot and two on the side, and that he would install a sidewalk on both sides of the corner lot as well.

One person spoke in favor of the petition during the public hearing, Pat Kleighe, the developer of the subdivision. Kleighe said merely that the garage as Mottinger intends to build it “falls within the use restrictions of the development.”

Four neighbors disagreed.

Lisa Kirincic, for one, expressed the fear that visitors to Trail Creek would get the impression “that anybody can build anything they want on the lots.”

“What happens if I want to buy a lot next to me and raise pigs on it?” Kirincic asked.

She also noted that, “when we built our home, we abided by the covenants” and expect everyone else in Trail Creek to do the same.

John Chirch simply read excerpts from the subdivision covenants. A structure on a lot, for instance, must be “occupied,” he cited, then noted that “You don’t live in a garage, you don’t occupy a garage.” And: each lot “shall be platted as a single-family lot.”

Period,” Chirch added.

Brooke Berry, who only just moved into the subdivision, told the board that she’s worried about her property values. “We had no idea this was a possibility when we bought the land,” she said.

And Catherine Cater said that, based on a conversation she had with Mottinger’s wife, she was under the impression that Mottinger intended to store in the garage chemicals and gear for his pool cleaning business.


Questioned by Member Bernie Poparad, Mottinger said that he stores all his business supplies in a unit on Babcock Road, has no intention of moving any of it to the garage, and wants only to park his car and truck in the garage.

Member Terry Swanson, for his part, said that he sees no practical difficulty which would necessitate the variances. “All I see is he’s got a lot of stuff.”

Member Brad Skafish agreed. “If we allow this, we’re stepping in and changing the code” of the subdivision,” he said, and in any case there’s “nothing unique” about Mottinger’s circumstances which would make either the variances necessary.

Members then voted separately to deny each of the requested variances.

Building Commissioner Bill Arney did say that Mottinger has the option of replatting the lots. Should he do so and then slightly reduce the dimensions of the garage, all he would need to break ground is a building permit.

But Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson added that a public hearing would precede any formal replatting.


Posted 8/28/2013