Chesterton Tribune



BZA public hearing on O'Connor gun range June 27; no billboard decision

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Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals members said they need a lot more information for a June 27 public hearing on a proposed air-gun instructional range at O’Connor Martial Arts, 534 Broadway.

James O’Connor and Brian Keating made the request during a preliminary hearing Thursday. A use variance is needed.

O’Connor said the building’s attic would be renovated for the gun range, and it wouldn’t share space with martial-arts classes. Keating said the range would educate about safe use of firearms, offer air-gun competitions and be a plinking range where participants can shoot at pop cans, bottles and Zombie posters.

BZA member Sig Niepokoj asked whether an age limit would be imposed. Keating said he hadn’t intended one but with parental guidance and instructor supervision, children older than age 5 likely could participate.

Member Jim Kowalski said the petitioners need to be very explicit what types of guns would be used, and exactly what would be done at the range. “The board will be very, very tough about what goes on there.”

Member Fred Owens said it’s good to have indoor activities, but the men need to submit proposed range guidelines like hours of operations, details about supervision and whether parental consent would be required.

A main contention in the petition O’Connor submitted is that a gun range would be ancillary to his primary business use. BZA attorney Julie Paulson said that’s technically not the case; she also suggested he strengthen his written arguments why a use variance should be granted.

“The more information we have about what you want, we can come up with a better decision,” said Niepokoj.

Vote to set the public hearing was 4-0 with president Rodney Corder absent. Two other petitions also unanimously advanced to public hearing after preliminary hearings last night.

Thomas and Jane Biedron of 1540 Bunker Drive are seeking a setback variance to allow construction of an addition on the north side of their home that will be 2 feet from the property line. Thomas Biedron said he is a paraplegic and was medically prescribed an aqua-therapy pool for badly needed aerobic and rehabilitative exercise.

The new pool room also would encroach on a utility easement. Biedron said he’s filed paperwork to be on the June 10 Town Council agenda seeking permission to do so.

He noted because of his home’s roof line and the location of outside storm drains, the north side is the only logical place to build the proposed addition.

A revised agenda and a 4-0 vote to waive the 17-day filing rule enabled Agni Hospitality Inc. a preliminary hearing on its request for three variances needed to install a new sign on an existing pole at the former Super 8 motel on Council Drive east of Indiana 49. The public hearing will take place June 27.

Attorney Terry Hiestand said Neil Patel is redeveloping the Super 8 site as a Quality Inn. Patel had obtained a building permit to erect the latter sign and it was delivered to the site, but town building officials stopped work and declared the permit invalid, according to Hiestand.

Acting building commissioner Mike Orlich later said that during a review of the issued permit, the need for variances became evident; they deal with the height of the sign, increasing the sign display size and having the sign within 200 feet of another freestanding sign.

The night’s final action was voting 4-0 to continue the public hearing for Lamar Outdoor Advertising, which seeks four variances needed to replace an existing billboard east of Indiana 49 and north of Porter Avenue with a slightly larger, 12-foot taller structure that would include LED digital technology.

Shawn Pettit of Lamar said a delay is needed to do traffic studies regarding his last month’s offer to have only the northbound Indiana 49 sign face be LED; the southbound face closer to the Indian Boundary Road intersection would not move.

The board agreed that because new evidence will be presented June 27, public comment on that information will be accepted. The comment portion of the hearing previously was closed.

This is Lamar’s second request for continuance. A scheduled public hearing was postponed in March because only three BZA members would be present and the vote would have to be unanimous. The public hearing took place April 25.





Posted 5/24/2013