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
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
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
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.
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.