Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Hearing May 19 on rezoning of ambulance garage

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Two rezoning petitions advanced to public hearings May 19, but there was plenty of discussion on each during preliminary hearing before the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission last night.

A final rezoning decision is made by the Town Council after receiving a recommendation from the Plan Commission.

The Porter County Commissioners want to rezone approximately 2.4 acres the county owns at the southwest corner of Indiana 49 and Porter Avenue from Residential-2 to Business-2. Commissioners’ attorney Greg Babcock said the land automatically was designated residential when it was annexed into Chesterton in 1982; a Porter Hospital ambulance station and a Vietnam Veterans memorial is located on the property now.

With Porter currently building a new hospital 3.5 miles away, the ambulances might be moved there and the county property become available for another use, speculated Babcock.

Fronting on Indiana 49, although it does not have direct access to it, and with commercial uses the norm along the bypass, he added, it makes sense for the commissioners to seek comparable zoning.

The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce recently obtained town zoning approval for the property to locate a $170,000 LED welcome sign with changeable messages, a business use in a residential zone.

Babcock said commissioners are willing to exclude certain future uses on the parcel, which lies directly east of vacant land owned by Chesterton Cemetery. The exclusions include nursing home, retirement village, greenhouse, all auto-service uses, retail food sales and service, and recreational uses.

After comments Thursday by commission member George Stone and others aimed at keeping the Indiana 49 intersection free of excessive traffic or inappropriate uses, Babcock agreed to ask commissioners’ president John Evans of Chesterton also to exclude alcohol and fireworks sales.

Although Stone suggested more, members Fred Owens and Emerson DeLaney said town standards regarding parking requirements and road cuts off Porter Avenue as well as the parcel’s irregular shape itself will limit what can be done at the site.

“Yes, the location is very good but the size of it is restrictive. In my opinion we’re reading too much into it,” said DeLaney.

The second rezoning request advancing to public hearing was that of Lewis and Lisa Graff. They own just over 1 acre at 190 E. Mekeland Lane north of U.S. 20 and west of Veden Road; the parcel is zoned Business-3 and the couple seek Residential-1 so they can build a home there.

Lewis Graff said at one time the area around his land was part of the former Crescent Woods Lumber, which closed in the 1970s. Jonynas Banquet Hall also was in the area. Although some B-3 zoning remains, noted Graff, most of the uses are residential and agricultural in adjacent rural Porter County. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore also is nearby.

Stone said rather than spot-zoning the Graffs, he’d prefer to see if other Chesterton property owners in the area wish to rezone to residential as well.

DeLaney, a Town Council member whose district includes the Graff property, said, “This is an area way out there with fingers all over the place.” He suggested having the Graffs proceed but also having the council look at the area’s overall zoning.


Posted 4/22/2011




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