Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Alliance PUD advances; Chesterton planners hear Liberty neighbors' objections

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By PAULENE POPARAD

It’s anticipated the proposed 80-acre Alliance Business Center at Indiana 49 and County Road 950N in Chesterton will be an economic stimulus and jobs creator for the town.

But at what cost to them, neighboring Liberty Township residents asked Thursday.

Several peppered the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission with questions about Alliance’s plans for the western 56 acres that would allow Industrial-1 and Industrial-2 uses as well as medical-related research facilities, testing laboratories and a distribution center with related trailer storage.

The remaining 24 eastern acres are tentatively reserved for Business-3 and Residential-3 uses with possibly 20 living units above retail if the market drives the project in that direction, said Alliance spokesman Terry Larson.

While adjacent township residents wanted answers, Larson and Plan Commission president George Stone said it’s too early for specifics because much is not known. What was under public hearing Thursday was Alliance’s planned-unit-development ordinance that laid out in broad terms only what would be done with the property.

No one from the public spoke in outright favor of the project. Stone noted the I-1 and I-2 zoning classification doesn’t permit heavy industry or smokestacks.

The PUD advanced to the Chesterton Town Council Oct. 28 for final action. The commission’s favorable recommendation came on a 6-0 vote with Jeff Trout, a member of both the commission and council, absent.

Once the council OKs the PUD, it would move back to the commission for platting, at which time a final design plan with detailed information would be submitted and reviewed before the commission makes a final decision on the Alliance property, also known as the Pope Farm.

Two main areas of concern voiced Thursday were traffic and drainage.

Trey Judy lives across from the site and said 950N is a tar and cinder road unsuitable for thousands of vehicles per day, especially semi-trucks. Larson later said there might be a thousand vehicles at full build-out but not thousands; he also said Porter County is responsible for 950N so Alliance would work with the county and Chesterton to build whatever road improvements are necessary if the final PUD is approved.

“We got the point. The road is a potential problem,” said Stone.

Early on Chesterton officials expressed concern about the 950N intersection at Indiana 49, which does not have a traffic signal. Larson said his group will work with the Indiana Department of Transportation, which has sole jurisdiction over the state road.

Allan Hewitt owns property west of the Pope Farm and said the Alliance project won’t be compatible with the long-time farming operation he conducts on his land, or with his need to safely access 950N with farming equipment. He asked the commission to deny the PUD.

Lyle Munn, who with his wife Mary Klein own property including a pond south and east of the Alliance parcels, voiced concern how development will affect drainage on and onto their land.

Commission member Tom Kopko, who serves on the Chesterton Stormwater Management Board, assured the audience the overall platted development as well as individual businesses that build there will have to submit detailed plans showing how their stormwater will be collected and discharged.

Said Klein, “We understand you’ll make your property good. We just don’t want to make ours bad.”

Larson said Alliance will develop a comprehensive stormwater plan and it’s not their intent to impinge on neighbors and make things worse for them.

Commission attorney Charles Parkinson said what’s before the board now is basically a rezoning of the Alliance site to a PUD. At the primary plat stage stormwater compliance and traffic will be addressed, and the commission can request a traffic study be submitted at that time.

Liberty resident Edna Chapman asked commission members, “Would you like living across the street from light industrial?” She expressed concern that her and her neighbors’ property values will drop because of Alliance. Larson said the project will bring growth and jobs to Chesterton.

Commission and Town Council member Emerson DeLaney said he lives across from industrial land, and if Alliance’s final concept is like other developments the group has done it will be very first class. No matter what Chesterton does, he added, the Liberty neighbors still will be in Porter County paying lower taxes.

“Nothing will be hidden from you,” he told the audience, referring to future plat discussions.

DeLaney explained the PUD lists as expressly prohibited uses on any of the Alliance property all sexually oriented businesses, an airport, off-track betting facility or bingo parlor, bulk fertilizer storage and a motor freight terminal.

The PUD also lists other additional uses allowed in the industrial portion of the development as job training, vocational education and other schools; indoor sports, health and fitness facilities; and communications towers as accessory structures to a permitted use (not towers for lease to other companies for wireless or microwave transmission).

In other business, the commission again delayed discussion regarding an update of its sign ordinance for business zones. The next meeting is Nov. 21.

 

 

Posted 10/18/2013