Russell Milbranth’s argument that if Scott Finner’s neighbor got to do it,
he should get to do it too didn’t get very far with the Chesterton Board of
Nevertheless, the BZA voted 4-1 Thursday granting two variances so Finner
doesn’t have to install curbs, gutters or sidewalks along East Porter Avenue
for a three-lot, 3-acre minor subdivision Finner plans to develop east of
the Sand Creek Country Club entrance and adjacent to the golf course’s No. 2
Millbranth said Finner’s neighbor was granted the same waivers in 2002 so
granting Finner’s request would be consistent.
But the BZA was quick to note conditions aren’t the same today: two years
ago the 360-home Olson Farm was platted but not yet built about 300 yards to
BZA president Kim Goldak said, “A lot has changed and it’s our job to
protect the Town of Chesterton. We need to be visionaries so its people are
not on the hook for sidewalks.”
Member Thomas Browne, the lone no vote, said despite the 2002 approval,
“It’s not my responsibility to do as in the past but to look to the future
down the road.”
Browne asked town manager Bernie Doyle what plans the town has for the East
Porter Avenue area. Doyle said interest has been shown by a couple of
developers in bringing a nursing-home facility to vacant land near the
Porter hospital Chesterton campus on Dickinson Road.
According to BZA member Fred Owens, “It’s a common question --- to sidewalk
or not to sidewalk? Do we build a sidewalk to nowhere, but you hate to
handicap the people at Olson Farm; where do they go?”
Millbranth said there’s no benefit to the community to have sidewalks in an
island in front of three houses only. BZA member Sig Niepokoj said a
developed Olson Farm might be the impetus needed to build sidewalks along
East Porter Avenue some day.
Even if the town did require them, said town engineer Mark O’Dell, the
Indiana Department of Transportation would not allow an at-grade sidewalk
crossing at Indiana 49, a divided limited-access highway.
Owens and Goldak agreed making Finner put in curbs and gutters for his three
lots would disrupt the area’s drainage patterns; O’Dell said each lot would
have to provide its own drainage plan.
No one was in the audience for Finner’s public hearing to comment either for
or against his petition although Millbranth said two neighbors told him they
had no objection.
The path to BZA approval was decidedly easier for Robert and Kelly McKinney,
who with little discussion and no public comment were granted 5-0 permission
to build a 6 foot-tall fence at 1520 Lob Wedge Lane to screen their back
yard from The Brassie golf course and its patrons.
The McKinneys said they need the fence for security and privacy for their
young children. Town code limits fences to 4.5 feet when adjacent to a
That rule prompted Bradley and Christabel Thomas’ petition for a 6 foot-tall
fence at 819 Olde Towne Square adjacent to Sand Creek Drive. A public
hearing on their variance request will take place July 22. Privacy and
safety again were cited as reasons to approve the waiver.
Also set for hearing that night was a request from Gretchen Gallardo through
attorney Richard Anderson; she seeks to reduce the rear-yard setback from
the required 25 feet to approximately 13 feet at 402 Eagle Nest Dr. where
Gallardo wants to construct an enclosed sun porch at the rear of her home.