As Burn Harbor
focuses on a revitalization plan, the Town’s Plan Commission on Monday began
discussing a new set of standards for commercial business construction in
its downtown area.
Town Engineer Scott
Kutcha of Global Engineering gave a PowerPoint presentation of what he has
worked on with Commission members Toni Biancardi and Bernie Poparad over the
last few months on coming up with core standards.
Kutcha named nine
guidelines the group came up with that stem from a community development
plan developed by SEH Inc. years ago for the downtown area.
The first guideline
would require commercial buildings to have 50 percent glass, or glazing, on
the front facade, facing the public street. This is so transparency will be
increased with glass windows and doors, Kutcha said. If the building has a
second facade facing a public street, on the side of the building, it will
be required to have 35 percent glass.
All other sides,
according to the guidelines, will be required to have 20 percent glass.
Buildings will be allowed to have 15 percent of its rear side to have no
glazing to allow a service door or anything else the business would like,
In the second
guideline, businesses can have up to 40 feet of a certain style. They would
need to change the look after that. This is to create “interesting buildings
for a walkable community,” Kutcha said.
“You don’t want to
have a 120-foot long blank wall,” he said.
guidelines Kutcha presented would require buildings to have a facade top, a
roof design with cornice lines, well-marked entrances, dictate building
orientation, require high quality roof materials and design continuity on
the building’s sides.
Parking would not
be allowed in the first tier in front of the building. The second tier would
have limited parking, Kutcha said, and cars will be allowed to park past
that on the side of the building.
Kutcha showed on
PowerPoint two buildings to give the planners visual examples. One was a
rectangular commercial building and another was a pharmacy type building
whose entrance is on the corner of the building. The pharmacy example showed
windows in the top tier to create the 50 percent glass.
The lights would
then be visible from the street, Kutcha said. “It makes you feel like you
are in a community that has its lights on.”
Westphal inquired if there would be security issues with the amount of
transparency required. Kutcha said with the windows on the top tier,
businesses could have no glazing beneath, so people would not be able to see
Eric Hull asked Kutcha if other communities have similar guidelines. Kutcha
said Valparaiso has “more in-depth” design guidelines. Businesses could
petition for variances if their plans don’t fit the guidelines, he added.
Poparad said the
goal of the guidelines is to change the look of businesses, as right now
Burns Harbor looks like a “pole barn city.”
Christine McWilliams will review what is proposed and the plan commission
will hold a public hearing at a future meeting. Changes can be made for
buildings in the different downtown districts.
Biancardi said the
guidelines will not apply to existing buildings but there would be grants
available from the Redevelopment Commission for business looking to adapt to
the new standards.
In other business,
Building Superintendent Bill Arney said he is continuing to address the
pennants or feather flag signs that businesses are using. Currently there is
nothing in the Town code that pertains to those kinds of signs, although
there is a temporary signage permit allowing them to be in place for up to
been cooperative in removing them if they are asked to, Arney said. He would
like to see something in the code that would be friendly to business.
“We’re going to
have to sit down and figure out what we want to do with pennant flag signs,”
McWilliams said the
process could be lengthy because of free speech implications in the first
amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Monday was a code review of the amendment to allow chickens in residential
In another matter,
the Plan Commission voted unanimously on final site plan review for Curly’s
Custom Cycles which will be moving to town sometime next spring at 328
Melton Rd., west of the Ind. 149 intersection.
Owner Lance “Curly”
Waugaman said the business has responded to the request of straightening the
driveway and reconfiguring the detention basin for drainage. He said he will
also agree to meet the landscaping requirements once construction in
Cycles had been in Chesterton before moving to Hobart, where it is now. The
business works to build and restore custom model motorcycles.