Chesterton Tribune

Holiday Inn likes what it sees in Chesterton, planners told

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By PAULENE POPARAD

Holiday Inn & Suites wants to locate in Chesterton, and 10-year resident Dr. Jamil Ahmed wants to help bring that about.

As owner of the Microtel by Wyndham in Michigan City, he knows the franchiser in large part picks the location. When it comes to Chesterton, Holiday Inn has its eye on Indian Oak Mall.

“Holiday Inn likes that piece of land very much,” said Ahmed after Thursday’s Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission. Members voted 7-0 to continue a preliminary hearing on zoning approvals needed to break ground on the project.

Ahmed’s attorney, Greg Babcock, had asked that the petition be set for public hearing Sept. 15 but town staff has not reviewed the plans and commission attorney Charles Parkinson said an ordinance needed to outline the specifics of what’s being proposed hasn’t been submitted.

Barring further continuances, a public hearing could take place Oct. 20.

Ahmed, who’s petitioning the Plan Commission as Cosmos Hospitality Services LLC, said at this point the delay isn’t significant; the hoped-for construction schedule would see an 80-room Holiday Inn break ground in Spring, 2012 with occupancy late that year or early 2013.

It’s estimated 25 to 50 people would be employed at the three-story, 37,000 square-foot hotel with indoor pool. It would join a Super 8, Best Western, Econolodge and Indian Oak Inn and Spa at the Indiana 49/Indian Boundary Road intersection just south of Interstate 94.

It’s the traffic generated by those roads that makes Indian Oak Mall at the southwest quadrant of Indiana 49 and Indian Boundary so attractive, said Babcock. The Holiday Inn would be south of Walgreen’s near Lake Palomara with access to it; some land already has been cleared for the 3-acre project.

Babcock said in a 24-hour period the eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 94 generate over 90,000 cars and trucks. The number drops to 30,300 for the northbound and southbound lanes of Indiana 49.

The attorney noted that in 1977 when the late Wayne Chubb platted Indian Oak Mall as Chesterton’s first planned unit development, unlike today there was no written ordinance. In 2007 a PUD drawing No. 5 was entered with easements and lots line to reflect development of the property to that point.

For the Holiday Inn, Babcock said he will submit a PUD amendment in ordinance form that seeks to vacate various easements as well as secure variances for requested signage.

Parkinson advised that the Town Council, not the commission, vacates easements so that request should be made there.

Commission member George Stone said the proposed 69 foot-tall monopole advertising sign seems excessive. “I don’t see why Holiday Inn has to be towering above the others.” Member Emerson DeLaney said depending on the elevation of Indiana 49, 69 feet may be reasonable to promote traffic safety.

Stone also questioned allowing a hotel sign off-site near Walgreen’s. Town engineer Mark O’Dell noted directional signs likely will be needed, too.

DeLaney asked that staff review the planned extension of a private Indian Oak Mall road to access the Holiday Inn site. “I don’t see big aerial fire trucks and engines going down that road making a turn on that radius you have there.” He also asked that new language specifically preserve access to land south of the Holiday Inn so parcels aren’t landlocked.

Parkinson said the petitioner and commission are working backwards to clean up the original Indian Oak PUD.

Commission president Sig Niepokoj said it would be pushing things to get eveything done for a public hearing Sept. 15. O’Dell noted drainage plans haven’t been submitted.

In other business, the commission asked that needed maintenance at Coffee Creek Center be taken off future agendas.

Parkinson said the Coffee Creek PUD ordinance became an ordinance of the town and the Town Council enforces ordinances; the council is working to correct problems at the stalled 640-acre development on the east side of Indiana 49 north of the Indiana Toll Road.

 

Posted 8/19/2011