Chesterton Tribune


2 feet that much difference? Yes, says Chesterton BZA

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“It sounds pretty petty, both sides arguing over 2 feet,” observed Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals member Sig Niepokoj with the board apparently deadlocked 2-2.

Town code limits the height of a freestanding sign to 18 feet, but First Care Consulting LLC, a medical service business, has relocated to 1595 S. Calumet Rd. and sought a variance so its sign can be 20 feet tall.

Attorney Greg Babcock, representing the petitioner, said the grade west of Indiana 49 where the sign would be placed is about 4 feet below the highway so the effective height of the sign would be 14 feet, a disadvantage with several other freestanding signs and an LED billboard in that area.

BZA member Jim Kowalski, who usually defends the 18-foot limit, strongly agreed with Babcock. “What he’s asking for is right and fair.” But Niepokoj noted the petitioner also was asking for a second variance for the two-sided sign to have a gross surface area of 196 square feet; 90 square feet is allowed.

BZA president Rodney Corder said, “Anywhere else in town I’d have extreme difficulty with another pole sign.”

Some South Calumet businesses were built before Indiana 49, and recently the town relocated South Calumet Road away from them, he said. Corder felt 20 feet was a good compromise because if the goal was to have the sign be visible at 18 feet, Babcock could have asked for 22 feet.

BZA member Fred Owens said the sign would have an advantage because it’s internally illuminated as well as larger. “I don’t think we want to be known as ‘Go to Chesterton because they’ll give you what you want’.”

Babcock proposed a height of 19 feet, emphasizing that the sign was for an on-site business rather than for off-site advertising. First Care Consulting chief operating officer Kris Zakutansky conferred with Babcock; he then said against his judgment the variance request was being withdrawn and the sign would be installed at 18 feet.

With member Tom Browne absent, all but Kowalski voted yes; he voted no but the motion passed approving the remaining requests. A condition was placed on approval that an existing pole sign on the front/west side of the building be removed.

No one spoke during a public hearing on the First Care Consulting requests. One person, Joe Juarez, did speak in support of a monument sign for Duneland Community Church, which wants to purchase the former Pioneer Lumber retail building north of WiseWay.

The petition was approved 4-0 allowing a two-sided, internally illuminated sign with a gross surface area of 120 square feet; town code allows 60 square feet. The sign will be west of the building visible from Indiana 49.

Four conditions were placed on the approval including that a Pioneer sign painted on the west side of the building be removed, and that the town’s Advisory Plan Commission approve a replat of the Pioneer subdivision.

Babcock, who represented the church, said he surveyed 12 other churches in town and all but one had a freestanding sign. Duneland Community Church pastor Greg Arthur said his congregation has met in two other buildings before finding the new site that will best serve their needs. The congregation plans to renovate the building and landscape the grounds.

It won’t be a traditional church with a steeple, however. “Our people know we’re there but nobody else does,” said Arthur, which is why the sign is needed.

The meeting opened with a preliminary hearing for Joseph and Debra Maxin, 502 Windridge Dr., seeking to place a semi-inground swimming pool three feet from their house instead of the required minimum of 10 feet. The petition was set for public hearing Nov. 20 instead of Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day.



Posted 10/26/2012