A neighbor reinforced his concerns about proposed farming near the Morgan’s
Corner subdivision, but the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission narrowly
gave the request a favorable recommendation Thursday.
The petition of Lake Erie Land for farmer Robert Rhoda advances to the
Chesterton Town Council for final consideration Aug. 11. The council would
need to amend the area’s existing development plan.
The commission conducted a public hearing June 21 on LEL’s request to lease
about 175 acres in its Coffee Creek Center development to Rhoda for crop
farming. Representing Rhoda and LEL, attorney Greg Babcock last night
offered to eliminate about 39 acres that would be closest to Morgan’s Corner
and the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy property.
LEL also committed to have a 75-foot perimeter buffer around any farmed
area, and to adjust the buffer if any of the farmed land is sold for the
commercial/residential development originally planned for Coffee Creek
Babcock noted such development would have to be platted by the Plan
Commission first so members would have the opportunity to review the
The commission’s recommendation carries a maximum 10-year farming approval,
but Babcock said Rhoda and LEL haven’t finalized any lease at this point.
Thursday was the third meeting devoted to LEL’s request. Vote on the
petition was Emerson DeLaney, Jeff Trout, Fred Owens and Sig Niepokoj in
favor and president Jeff Ton opposed; Ton gave no reason why. Members George
Stone and Tom Kopko were absent. DeLaney and Trout are also Town Council
The public comment portion of the public hearing had been closed June 21,
but under audience participation last night neighbor Marc Jones said LEL
needs to be accountable to the representations it made when luring families
to Morgan’s Corner with promises of houses and a conservancy.
Jones added that residents have to comply with standards and so should LEL.
“If we have the ability to exert power over them to hold them to their
promises, we should do that.”
In light of the additional map and information Babcock submitted Thursday,
Owens’ motion prevailed to reopen the public hearing and accept Jones’
comments as well as those by letter from Tom Smith, who said he supports the
farming proposal because Rhoda farms land for Smith and he has no
From the audience, Bill Carlton inquired exactly what acreage was being
excluded so Babcock showed the neighbors on a map. He said excluding the 39
acres will protect nearby wetlands and hopefully preserve the view south
from Morgan’s Corner.
DeLaney said after seeing the new topography map it’s the right thing to
exclude the acreage to keep water away, to separate land uses and to screen
the view of farming operations. And as for the watershed conservancy
property, “They can’t touch it --- no way, shape or form.”
DeLaney called the compromise a very good amicable solution for both LEL and
In other business, town engineer Mark O’Dell said Philippe Builders is
proceeding to obtain modified stormwater control permits. On the
recommendation of the town’s Stormwater Management Board, the Plan
Commission voted to lift Philippe’s previous stop-work order at Coffee Creek