Chesterton Tribune

Village of Burns Harbor seeks to replace single family homes with apartments

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If developer Jim Combs gets his way, upscale rental apartments will be ready for occupancy in May at the Village in Burns Harbor subdivision.

The town’s Advisory Plan Commission voted 5-0 Monday to conduct a public hearing Aug. 1 to amend the Village’s primary plat by swapping nine single-family lots north and south of an extended Boo Road for apartment use.

Representing the Village, Jeff Ban of DVG Inc. said they hope to have paperwork in order Aug. 1 so they can request secondary/final plat approval as well that night if the primary plat is amended as requested.

After the meeting the CEO of L. I. Combs & Sons of Valparaiso, said, “We’d like to get started as soon as possible, hopefully September.” According to the company’s website it has built over 950 apartment units.

Combs said he is working on the Burns Harbor project with Mike Sakich of In Good Company, a partner in The Enclave apartments on Dickinson Road in Chesterton.

Quality apartments promised

Combs said the manor homes planned for the Village will range from an approximately 650 square-foot, one-bedroom unit to a 1,300 square-foot, three-bedroom model. “They’re going to be the top of the line.”

Seventy to 80 apartments in two-story buildings will be the project’s first phase; the revised plat shows a total 24 buildings of up to eight units each as well as a pool and clubhouse.

The apartments would be built in the north and east portions of the Village property, located west of Indiana 149 and north of U.S. 20. As of December, 2010 at least 75 single-family homes had been built in the subdivision characterized by smaller lots, front porches and narrow streets to enhance the 1950’s-era neighborhood feel.

Some of the same questions posed when the Village primary plat last was amended in December arose again Monday including future construction of a relocated Boo Road through the subdivision and eventually connecting to the Harbor Trails subdivision to the west.

Ban was asked why it appears Boo Road on the east side of Village goes through a parking lot for the apartment buildings; Ban said the plan will be changed so Boo Road looks and acts as a road.

Hesham Khalil of town engineer Global Engineering and Land Surveying said he and town building commissioner Bill Arney are reviewing Ban’s plans and hope to have a report soon with more information about Boo Road construction.

On another matter, Arney was thanked for securing the reluctant cooperation of Wells Fargo to remove large piles of broken concrete from the former Standard Plaza truck stop on U.S. 20 following environmental testing there; the bank is responsible for the property.

Commission members Toni Biancardi and Jan Hines were absent.

England appeal gets new life

In a related zoning matter, the legal action has been revived seeking to overturn last year’s split Burns Harbor Board of Zoning Appeals decision allowing C.R. England trucking to build a new 250 semi-truck parking lot with guardhouses south of Tech Drive west of Indiana 149.

Late last month twelve Burns Harbor individuals and businesses asked Porter Superior Court judge Mary Harper to order the BZA to turn over its record of the England petition proceedings for court review.

England attorney Terry Hiestand responded that Jan. 3, 2011 when Harper dismissed the Town of Burns Harbor and its Town Council as co-plaintiffs in the appeal because they lacked legal standing, the remaining 12 should have been dismissed, too.

Thomas Mixdorf of Ice Miller LLP of Indianapolis represents the twelve individuals/businesses still appealing; Mixdorf represented the Town and Town Council as well previously.

Because the town’s law firm of Harris, Welsh & Lukmann represented both the Town Council and the BZA, HWL recused itself from anything to do with the England appeal. Attorney Brian Hurley was hired to advise the BZA.

Last night, HWL attorney Charles Parkinson said even though the Town/Town Council have been dismissed, his firm can’t represent the BZA again because future litigation still might involve the Town/Town Council related to the England appeal.

In his current filing Mixdorf said his clients’ renewed request to produce the BZA record, made almost six months after the Town/Town Council were dismissed, is “merely a reminder of its original timely petition for review of the BZA’s decision.”

The remaining plaintiffs are Herminio and Andrea Soto; Steelworkers Hall Inc.; BH, LLC and Tara BH Village LLC, both tied to the Village in Burns Harbor subdivision; Lake Shore Domestics Inc. and Lake Shore Imports Inc. represented by auto dealer Robert Kerr; Arnell Chevrolet Inc. and related dealerships; Camp Land Inc., JPAD Development and JPAD Properties LLC; and Fast Coffee Services.

Posted 7/12/2011