There won’t be barbed wire on top the fence surrounding it, but petitioner
Donald Haines received needed approvals Thursday to locate a building that
will house fiber-optic regeneration equipment north of his automotive
business at 1516 Broadway.
The Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals gave unanimous approval for three
variances after, faced with questions about the barbed wire’s safety and
liability exposure, Haines withdrew his variance request to allow it.
BZA members were told the 12-foot by 24-foot prefabricated concrete building
with steel doors and its contents won’t cause environmental problems,
pollution or microwave activity.
During a public hearing, South 14th Street neighbor Robert Karp asked if the
structure or any antenna would block his television signal. He was told
there will be no towers and no interference should occur; the building
itself will be about 10 feet tall.
BZA member Sig Niepokoj asked about the building’s specifications. Aaron
Bowie, outside plant manager for Great Lakes Comnet of East Lansing, MI, and
who accompanied Haines, said the building also will have a fire-suppression
system and an alarm.
Kenneth Spaulding speaking for Carolyn Kipper, who owns mini-storage
buildings north of the proposed regeneration site, asked that it be moved
farther south away from her property. Haines said his building will be small
with a security fence and he didn’t see how that could be a detriment to
Later, BZA member Jim Kowalski said Kipper received a variance for the
warehouses about 15 to 20 years ago so why would she oppose Haines getting a
variance now. Spaulding said the area --- where commercial uses are behind
buildings that front on 15th Street --- can get very restricted.
By letter, 1501 Broadway property owner Jody Bennett told the BZA that
Haines runs a clean business and there is no objection to the additional use
Town building commissioner Dave Novak recommended, and the BZA required as a
condition of approval, that a gravel alley on the east side of Haines’
property be upgraded to town standards to provide emergency services better
access to the new building should the need arise.
Haines told BZA president Rodney Corder that he would comply with the
One of the variances approved was to allow a building without proper
setbacks and lot size. Associate town attorney Julie Paulson said the exact
distances involved needed to be confirmed although the BZA could approve the
request based on the submitted scale drawing and the distances be supplied
Kacey Polisky of Great Lakes Comnet said the company will provide what’s
Paulson also said the reasons given to support granting the use variance for
a telecommunications facility in Haines’ Residential-2 zoning district
needed to be beefed up; the BZA adopted language that the proposed site has
an irregular lot size, is near railroad tracks and is a somewhat landlocked
parcel making it difficult to develop as a residential use.
Kowalski questioned why property abutting a railroad would be zoned
residential in the first place.
The remaining variance approved will permit a 6 foot-tall fence within 5
feet of a public alley in an R-2 zone.
During a brief discussion regarding the barbed-wire request, which required
an additional variance, Kowalski said, “I have a problem with that barbed
wire fence. I really do.” Paulson said since it would be on private
property, the Town of Chesterton would have no liability.
If the BZA intended to deny the barbed wire, it would have had to adopt
findings explaining why so the matter likely would have been continued until
May had Haines not withdrawn the request.
On Fred Owens’ motion, seconded by Thomas Browne, the board voted 5-0 to
approve the three variances remaining incorporating the conditions
Great Lakes Comnet is adding the regeneration facility to strengthen the
fiber optic signal for Verizon between South Bend and Chicago. Bowie said
the town’s municipal buildings or any building in town can have access to
the services Comnet provides by connecting to the fiber-optic system.
Browne asked if there has been any discussion with town officials to do so;
Bowie said no.