Corp. wants to be better stewards of the community’s tax dollars by cutting
its healthcare costs, speakers said Thursday.
Duneland sought and
was granted a use variance from the Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals that
will enable renovating a portion of the Instructional Materials Center at
411 S. 5th St. into a primary/preventive-care wellness center for the
schools. Vote was 5-0.
If the new facility
would have been in place in 2011, Duneland would have saved about $450,000
in health-related costs, assistant superintendent David Pruis told the BZA.
Two conditions were
placed on BZA approval: that up to 2,300 square feet of the 5,700
square-foot building could be devoted to medical needs, and an operating
security system has to be in place at the time an occupancy permit is
The balance of the
IMC building, erected in 1953 by the Lions Club and purchased by the school
in 1968, will be used for Duneland storage.
A use variance is
needed for the project because the site is in a Residential-2 zoning
district. Attorney Greg Babcock representing Duneland said the Lions
building predated Chesterton zoning regulations but it always has been a
good neighbor. During a public hearing Thursday, no one spoke other than
Duneland School Board president Mike Trout in support.
of Indianapolis will manage and operate the new facility. Joe Wright of
Novia said patients can make appointments between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. at their
convenience, but the facility will be open only about 20 hours per week with
some limited Saturday hours.
Pruis said although
Duneland is not a member, it is partnering with the Porter County Insurance
Trust on the project allowing member schools’ eligible employees, retirees
and dependents to use the facility as well as Duneland’s.
Gerometta explained the IMC will get a facelift including a covered canopy
entrance, patient waiting area and receptionist station, exam rooms, limited
laboratory facilities, medical storage/records, staff lounge and a future
area for physical therapy.
At its last meeting
the School Board authorized soliciting bids for the renovations ---
contingent on BZA approval first --- with plans to accept a bid next month.
“We weren’t taking this for granted,” Trout assured the BZA.
the wellness center is free to participants and no cash will be on hand; it
is for primary care, limited laboratory testing, chronic-disease management
and promoting healthy lifestyles only. No emergency patients will be seen.
BZA member Thomas
Browne expressed concern over the proximity of Chesterton Park across the
street from the IMC, saying anything the board can do to assure the safety
of the neighbors and people in the park should be considered.
Member Sig Niepokoj
inquired whether a security alarm system would be in place. Member Jim
Kowalski said it’s in everyone’s best interest to have one. After discussion
the board made it a condition of approval one must be installed.
what medications will be onsite. Wright said there won’t be narcotics, and
commonly prescribed medications in pre-packaged generic form will be
securely stored. Duneland director of support services Greg Lindy told the
board multiple security cameras will be in place, and building entry will be
Will HIV testing
and treatment be done at the site, asked Browne? Wright said it will be up
to the attending physician. All medical waste will be handled securely and
vendors contracted to remove biohazards, he added.
The board noted an
acceptable parking plan has been designed for the health center. That issue
came up during a Jan. 24 preliminary hearing.
Billboard hearing Mar. 28
The BZA conducted a
brief preliminary hearing on the request of Lamar Outdoor Advertising for
four variances that would allow replacing an existing sign approximately 465
feet north of Porter Avenue on the east side of Indiana 49 with a larger,
updated LED version.
Lamar asked last
year to upgrade the billboard but pulled the petition before a decision was
representative Shawn Pettit said Thursday a lighting analysis was done in
the interim to confirm Lamar’s belief the LED sign will not cause glare to
distract drivers. Last year Chesterton police chief Dave Cincoski expressed
reservations on that front.
building commissioner Dave Novak said Cincoski still has the same concerns.
Pettit offered to do additional lighting studies prior to the public
hearing, which was set for Mar. 28. Lamar also has agreed to place several
conditions on approval if the variances are granted.
Hiestand, representing landowner Smith Family trusts where the sign will be
located, gave the BZA copies of studies not presented last year showing the
benefit of LED technology, including for Amber Alerts and emergency
notification to the public.
A second public
hearing was set next month for Craig and Rebecca Rothman, who seek a
variance to legalize a 12-foot by 12-foot garden shed built without a
building permit and within 5 feet of a side lot line at 324 Jefferson Ave.
At the meeting’s
conclusion when all petitioners had left, member Fred Owens and Browne said
they both will be absent Mar. 28. BZA attorney Julie Paulson said that means
all three members present must agree on a vote, or vote to continue any
matter without a decision.
Some boards offer
the petitioner the option to postpone a public hearing if only three board
members will be in attendance.
In other action,
the BZA dismissed the 2012 petition of Johnson Automotive, 301 N. Calumet
Ave., for a sign variance. No one had attended the last two meetings to
explain the request.