Chesterton Tribune

Chesterton BZA approves three variances

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The Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals approved all three petitions before it Thursday. Each had a required public hearing and no one commented.

The newly relocated Subway restaurant at 705 Plaza Dr. in the former Blockbuster building north of Indian Boundary Road won permission to add two wall-mounted signs and one double-sided sign to an existing sign pole at that location. Three development standard variances were required.

Subway attorney Greg Babcock said a Verizon store shares space in the building and additional signs are needed to encourage restaurant patrons to enter at the correct door and motorists to recognize which driveway to use.

Local Subway owner Tim Shideler said some patrons are mistakenly pulling in at the old location on the south side of Indian Boundary. He said he’s invested $180,000 in new equipment and renovations at the Plaza Drive site and has increased his employees from 18 full and part-time to 23.

Commented BZA member Sig Niepokoj, “I think it’ll be a positive for the area.” The variances were approved on a 4-0 vote with member Jim Kowalski absent.

Motorcycle repair OK’d

The board also was unanimous in granting property owned by Andrew Gatewood and Dawn Gatewood a use variance to allow an automotive/motorcycle repair shop in a Residential-2 zone at 1720 Wood St.

The approval was expanded to include business uses allowed in the automotive-service category in the Business-3 zoning district.

Gatewood said the property was B-3 when he bought it but unknown to him about 20 years ago it was rezoned to Residential-2. There are railroads to the north of the site, a business to the east and homes across the street. Gatewood had operated a motorcycle shop there but now wants to rent the building to a tenant for the same use but the zoning didn’t allow it.

Prior to the vote Gatewood said he’d like to talk to town officials about rezoning his property and two adjoining lots to the commercial usage it long has been. Said Niepokoj, “That could be classified as spot zoning that we don’t want to do.” A final decision would be up to the Town Council.

Town engineer Mark O’Dell said staff didn’t have a problem allowing a use variance that permits the B-3 automotive-service uses. BZA members decided to let future owners of Gatewood’s property worry whether that category would restrict them.

The night’s third public hearing was for Tim Whalen and Katie Whalen, who unanimously were granted a development standard variance to reduce a rear-yard setback from 26 feet to 15.6 feet so they can build a screened-in porch at 209 Laurel Creek Dr.

“We see no reason it will adversely affect anything,” said Katie Whalen.

GTE site gets new life?

The BZA preliminarily heard the petition of the Bross family and set a public hearing for May 26 on their request to allow climate-controlled indoor storage at the former GTE building at 315 S. Calumet Rd. on the north side of Hopkins Ace Hardware.

Bross attorney Terry Hiestand said the GTE building has an elevator and a basement that would make it suited to inside storage, even though Chesterton’s zoning code doesn’t address that type of use.

The Business-1 site has ample, fenced parking, Hiestand noted, and the proposed storage wouldn’t impinge on neighboring properties.

Posted 4/29/2011