There will be no pawn shop in Chesterton.
At its meeting Tuesday night the Board of Zoning Appeals voted 5-0 to deny
the petition of Complete Control Systems Inc. for a use variance which would
have permitted the operation of a pawn shop at 100 Brown Ave., the former
site of Childress Industrial Controls.
The site is zoned I-1. The Zoning Ordinance makes no provision for a pawn
shop and a use variance would have been needed to open one.
There was no discussion but Member Jim Kowalski read the findings of fact on
which the denial was based.
Among other things, those findings determined that a pawn shop would be
injurious to the public safety and welfare of the community partially
because the petitioner—Cheryl Bonin was acting as agent for Complete Control
Systems—did not offer evidence indicating that a pawn shop would not
be injurious. But a pawn shop would also be injurious, Kowalski stated,
because it would generate more traffic in the neighborhood than other
permitted industrial uses.
In addition, Bonin did not produce evidence that the use and value of
surrounding property would not be adversely affected, Kowalski stated, while
on the contrary the board found that it would be so adversely affected by
the generation of traffic far in excess of that generated by other permitted
Furthermore, Kowalski stated, Bonin failed to show a need for the variance
arising from some peculiar condition of the property or that a strict
interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance would prove a hardship in the use of
that property for permitted industrial uses. Indeed, Kowalski stated, there
are some 40 other permitted industrial uses which could allow “a reasonable
economic return to the owner.”
If there is any hardship in inducing a potential tenant to lease space at
the building, Kowalski added, it’s a “self-created one” because the owner of
the property has not properly maintained it.
Finally, Kowalski stated, approval of the variance would be at odds with the
specific economic-development goals articulated by the Chesterton
Comprehensive Plan, inasmuch as it not only would be an inharmonious use in
the neighborhood but would reduce the town’s inventory of industrially zoned
Neighbors had remonstrated vociferously against the petition at a public
hearing in November.
In other business, the board voted 5-0 to schedule a public hearing at its
next meeting, Jan. 28, on the petition of Chesterton First United Methodist
Church for a variance which would permit the installation of four signs on
the church with a total surface area of 31.5 square feet.
Under the Zoning Ordinance, attorney Greg Babcock noted, representing the
church, there is no total allowable number of signs but there is a total
allowable surface area of 45 square feet, the whole of which is currently in
Three of the signs would be installed on the north entrance of the church,
one on the west entrance.
Babcock told the board that a survey of new members has indicated that a
need exists at the church to direct visitors more plainly to areas within
the church. “Where do you go when you hit the back door?” as he put it.
The church does host public events, Babcock noted.
Members also voted 5-0 to schedule a public hearing at their next meeting on
the petition of Southfield Brick LLC—the owner of Curly Masonry at 1631
Pioneer Trail—for a use variance which would permit the manufacture of dry
cast stone in a B-3 zone.
Southfield Brick has purchased Accucast industries—currently operating on
Grant Ave. near the Street Department in an I-1 zone—and is interested in
moving the manufacture into the southernmost of its two buildings at 1631
Babcock, also representing Southfield Brick, said that the building in
question is currently underutilized and would be “an excellent location” for
Babcock noted that the dry cast stone is an all-natural product, all
manufacturing activities would be inside the building, there would be
neither noise nor odor, and that there is ample space on site for the
loading and unloading of trucks so as not to interfere with traffic on
It’s also a wholesale, not a retail, operation, Babcock said, which sells to
outlets in Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky.
In response to a query from Member Sig Niepokoj, Frank Paganis of Southfield
Brick said that there is “very little” dust involved in the operation and
that dust collectors are used prior to the addition of water. It’s a natural
curing process with no kilns or other heat sources used, he added, and all
work is done by hand.
Kowalski did ask about the cause of the fire which destroyed the Accucast
Industries facility on Grant Ave. a couple of years ago. The cause of the
fire was undetermined, Paganis replied, but a full investigation by the
Indiana Fire Marshal cleared the company of any “wrongdoing.”
Kowalski did take a moment at the end of the meeting to bid his colleagues
on the board farewell, after many years of service. “I contemplated this
decision for two years,” he said. “I told myself that a good reason to step
down is that it’s good for change. It’s hard for a community to move forward
when some of use who’ve been here forever stay around. It keeps people from
stepping up. New people have to step forward and have the opportunity to
serve. It’s time for someone else to take up this chair.”
“We’ve appreciated your help, your wealth of knowledge, and your mentoring,”
Member Kim Goldak said.
Meanwhile, Member Brandon Kroft also said farewell. “It’s been a pleasure
serving with you. I had a great time serving on this board. I have no
regrets and hope I can find a way to contribute in the future.”