Chesterton Tribune



Commercial building facade standards eyed for Burns Harbor

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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, Kutcha said.

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.

The other 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.”

Planner Crystal 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 in.

Planner President 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.”

Town Attorney 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.

Flag signs

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 30 days.

Businesses have 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,” Arney said.

McWilliams said the process could be lengthy because of free speech implications in the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Also continued Monday was a code review of the amendment to allow chickens in residential districts.

Motorcycle shop gets approval.

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 completed.

Curly’s Custom Cycles had been in Chesterton before moving to Hobart, where it is now. The business works to build and restore custom model motorcycles.


Posted 11/15/2016





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