Chesterton-Duneland Chamber of Commerce representatives began Thursday’s
meeting asking to construct a 355 square-foot, $170,000 monument welcome
sign west of Indiana 49.
They ended the meeting increasing that request to 851 square feet if it
becomes necessary when all the double-sided lettering faces are totalled.
Four variances from the town’s sign ordinance would be required.
The Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals set a March 24 public hearing on the
Chamber petition as well as on a separate request to add more signage at the
Dairy Queen Grill & Chill, 552 Indian Boundary Road.
In the Chamber’s case, the main sign would be a 7-foot by 14-foot 11-inch
LED changeable color sign in the middle of a 20 foot-tall stone structure
topped with a 3-foot aluminum arch. Stationary Welcome to Chesterton
lettering would be above the LED display and a smaller Chamber logo sign
would be below it.
The sign structure would be located generally south of the Vietnam memorial
wall on the grounds of the Porter County ambulance station at 600 E. Porter
Ave. The new sign would replace a 25-year-old wooden Chamber welcome sign
that blew down in a December storm.
The property, zoned Residential-2, is owned by the Porter County
Commissioners and attorney Greg Babcock, who brought the Chamber’s petition,
said a license agreement will be entered into with the commissioners since
it appears none was existing for the previous Chamber sign.
Chamber executive director Heather Ennis said an LED sign is the best
opportunity for her group to offer paid advertising space to its 360 members
as well as to non-members and community groups to publicize their
The Chamber had considered having the non-scrolling LED sign face change
every 8 seconds, but BZA members said 10 seconds like an existing LED
billboard south of the Chamber sign was preferred. Ennis said they would
accept such a restriction.
BZA member Thomas Browne asked if Chamber members were polled about using an
LED sign, which isn’t allowed in town without a variance.
Chamber president Jim Anton said LED technology offers more flexibility and
the Chamber Board of Directors is fully behind it; Ennis said directors and
members involved in the project feel the sign is tasteful and they’re
Babcock said the Chamber took care to have the monument structure itself
mirror the style and materials of the signs installed last year by the town
Redevelopment Commission for the South Calumet District gateway renovation.
Town manager Bernie Doyle said department heads feel the Chamber sign will
help Chesterton’s branding effort if some of the details can be worked out.
According to Ennis, “We still want to be the announcement board for the
The previous wooden Chamber sign had 16 medallions on its base representing
area organizations and service clubs. After the meeting Ennis said a way to
help promote these and similar groups on the LED sign is being discussed.
Anton also told the BZA the sign, to be operated from the chamber office,
can be programmed to display instant alerts like weather emergencies if
The representatives were asked if perhaps they could omit the lower Chamber
logo sign and somehow incorporate the Chamber name on the individual LED
Ennis said, “We didn’t want to take away from the advertisers by cluttering
their message. It’s not necessarily about us but since we’re the one making
the investment, we wanted our name.”
BZA member Rodney Corder said it appears trees will obscure the view of the
south side of the new sign if it’s built perpendicular to Indiana 49. The
last thing motorists traveling 50 mph need, he noted, is suddenly to be
distracted by coming upon a color LED sign and not knowing what it is.
Larry Yurko of the Landmark Sign Group said it hasn’t been determined yet
exactly where the Chamber sign will be placed.
Babcock and BZA member Jim Kowalski both said LED sign technology is an
issue the town increasingly will face and the interpretation and
restrictions used now will form the basis for future considerations.
Babcock was asked to consult with building commissioner Dave Novak and
associate commission attorney Julie Paulson regarding preparation of the
Chamber’s petition for the March 24 public hearing. Paulson said it’s up to
Novak to interpret the sign ordinance.
Clarification is needed whether the monument part of a sign is considered
part of the total sign package. Babcock said petitioners shouldn’t be
penalized for wanting to have a pleasing structure instead of just mounting
a sign on two poles.
Babcock this time representing Dairy Queen owners Scott and Michelle
Pendleton presented their request for five variances needed to add two
Orange Julius signs on the building and a smaller one on the menu board.
Dairy Queen recently acquired the Orange Julius franchise and is offering it
to select DQ stores. Scott Pendleton said the sign sizes are dictated by DQ,
but he will investigate whether they can be reduced.
Babcock said the three new signs would require a variance adding 58.45
square feet more in signage. BZA members noted the existing DQ signs already
exceed town code under variances previously granted in 2008 when the
Six months and
Ending consideration of a petition that began in August, 2010 the BZA voted
5-0 Thursday granting a variance to Tom and Jeanette Tugman to construct a
two-car garage at 303 Michigan Ave. A public hearing was opened in December.
The couple had sought a three-car garage and needed permission to allow a
higher percentage of the lot to be covered with structures. Original garages
on the property were damaged in the 2009 tornado.
BZA president Fred Owens told Tom Tugman the 20-foot by 24-foot garage is to
be measured from exterior eave overhang to eave overhang, not interior wall