Does Chesterton want to develop as a bedroom community, primarily
residential with supporting commercial/retail but few industrial job
Or would its residents be happier to keep traffic and bustle away from where
they live, even if it costs them more in property taxes to enjoy that
quality of life?
Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission members walked that fine line Wednesday
during a nearly three-hour workshop called to discuss draft revisions to the
town’s 2004 comprehensive plan.
The commission agreed to consider what likely would be a final draft of the
new plan at its Feb. 18 meeting and conduct a public hearing March 18. Final
adoption would be up to the Town Council.
To what degree the public cares about the plan remains to be seen. Last
night one person other than town officials, consultants and a reporter
attended the public meeting.
Significant time was devoted to the proposed land-use map which paints the
town in broad strokes as opposed to the zoning map and zoning ordinance that
specifically govern intended development.
Commented commission member George Stone, “We talk about having balanced
growth in Chesterton, but I noticed there’s a tremendous reduction in land
set aside for business and industrial use. That worries me.”
He and member Jeff Trout suggested, and the commission later concurred,
restoring the possibility of business/industrial uses somewhere between U.S.
20 and Interstate 94 east of Indiana 49, now generally beyond town
The update’s long-range planning area leaves little room for town growth on
the north and west but extends to County Road 900 North on the south and
County Road 350 East on the east; it was noted Chesterton only accepts
voluntary annexations and all newly annexed property comes in as residential
zoning to assure maximum town input and review.
Consultant A.J. Monroe of Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. of Munster, whose
team is spearheading the planning update, said placing business/industrial
uses on a map can’t be done in isolation.
While Trout said the U.S. 20/Interstate 94 triangle bisected by County Road
1400 North and a railroad possibly could house an Ameriplex-type development
like that in Portage along Interstate 94, Monroe said in Chesterton’s case
that land is neighbored by a national park and residential uses in Porter
Commission president Fred Owens said if the land triangle remains a
residential use and someone proposes to build a shingle plant there, the
town would have a hard time justifying a change in its comprehensive plan.
Monroe referred to a map of existing land uses surrounding Chesterton
including considerable industrial land in Burns Harbor and some in Porter.
“The problem is we don’t share the taxes on them,” said Stone.
Residential development typically requires more municipal services yet pays
less property taxes while business/industrial development requires fewer
services and contributes more taxes.
Monroe said since Chesterton is looking long-range, business/industrial
growth could occur on the east side of Indiana 149 if a new interchange is
built at the Indiana Toll Road, and on the west side of Indiana 49 between
County Road 950 North and the Toll Road.
Chesterton currently has a few pockets of industrially zoned and/or
industrially occupied land.
Owens asked if there would be a way to provide for business uses on the east
side of Indiana 49 to serve the developing area along County Road 250 East
and County Road 1050 North. Monroe said with land reserved for a major town
park there as well as a large, vacant Duneland School Corp. tract and
families all around, residential uses make sense.
Monroe said the need is more about improving the transportation plan ---
upgrading 1050N and Burdick Road and extending Dickinson Road --- to improve
carrying capacity east of Indiana 49 and get rural town residents to
developed shopping areas.
He also explained that the future land-use map is layered with wetlands,
woodlands and natural corridors so what may appear to be designated a green
open-space use isn’t necessarily so, especially if the land is already
On another matter Stone, who is on record opposed to gated communities,
asked that a policy statement that encourages “a range of housing types and
neighborhood choices for all ages” be expanded to include “and income
Commission member Sig Niepokoj asked if the Indiana Department of
Transportation would allow landscaping the Indiana 49 median between Indian
Boundary Road and the Toll Road. Monroe said it’s possible but the community
likely would have to take the lead and maintain the median, perhaps similar
to an “adopt-a-highway” program.