The president of
the Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals has been granted two variances by the
Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals.
At their meeting
Tuesday night, members Joe Ackerman, Fred Owens, Kim Goldak, and Jim
Kowalski voted unanimously to grant the two variances to President Rich
Riley, who was seeking one to exceed by 8 percent the maximum rear-yard lot
coverage allowed by Town Code for the purpose of building a garage on his
property at 218 Grant Ave.; and another to permit the continued residential
use of that property, which is zoned B-2.
In fact the case
was a routine one. Riley presented his petition from the floor, after
handing the gavel to Vice-president Goldak. The only real sticking point:
the 200 block of Grant Ave., despite its B-2 zoning, has been in continuous
residential use for more than a century, the house on Riley’s property
having been built in 1906. That makes it a legally non-conforming use, which
means that in order to obtain the first variance--the one permitting
additional rear-yard lot coverage--he also needed to obtain the second,
permitting, in essence, the residence to remain a residence.
As Riley put it in
his petition, “This lot is bordered on three sides by residential
single-family houses. The entire north side of Grant Ave. is currently
residential and has been used residentially since 1906. This lot is improved
with a remodeled single-family residence. The actual ‘use’ of this property
will not change, as it has always been a residential use as have the
surrounding properties to the north, east, and west.”
“What is ‘peculiar’
to the subject property is the fact that although the entire north side of
Grant Ave. from Third Street west to Fifth Street is zoned B-2 Business, it
is apparent from the age of the houses that it has always been residential,”
Riley added. “The B-2 Business District zoning regulations impose
restrictions that are not relevant to residential uses and inhibit further
improvements of a residential nature.”
The garage itself
will be a two-car job, and Town Engineer Mark O’Dell told the board that
both its design and its siting on the property are in compliance with Town
Code. “Most, if not all, of the adjacent and neighboring residences have a
garage,” Riley noted.
At a public hearing
which preceded the vote, no one spoke in favor of Riley’s petition and no
one spoke in opposition to it. Meanwhile, in response to queries from Goldak,
Secretary Gail Murawski confirmed that Riley’s paperwork was in order and
Associate Town Attorney Julie Paulson that there were no legal issues with
In other business,
members--with the gavel in Riley’s hand--voted unanimously to grant a
variance to Erik and Erica Weiler permitting them to build a six-foot
privacy fence in their yard at 1055 Birch Trail in the Duneland Trails
Under Town Code,
the maximum height of any fence built along a public right-of-way--as the
Weilers’ fence would be, along C.R. 50E (South Fifth Street)--is four feet.
Erik Weiler told
the board that they want the taller fence for privacy and for the protection
of their children and their children’s friends. “We get a lot of vehicle,
bike, and pedestrian traffic on those sidewalks and roads,” he said.
“We also want to
keep out the wild and stray animals that come out of the woods along C.R.
50E,” Weiler added.
At a public hearing
which preceded the vote, no one spoke in favor of the petition and no one in
opposition to it.
Goldak had one
question only: would it be possible to erect a green vinyl fence, more in
keeping with the trees and vegetation along C.R. 50E?
Weiler said that
subdivision covenants mandate a white vinyl fence only.
Meanwhile, at a
scheduled preliminary hearing earlier in the meeting, no one representing
BenLew Enterprises LLC was in attendance to present its petition for a
variance to allow residential use on the third floor of a building in a B-2
The building in
question is located at 442 N. Calumet Road.
According to the
petition, the building’s third floor is already subdivided into apartments.
Should no one
appear at the BZA’s next meeting, the case will be removed from the board’s
agenda and BenLew Enterprises would need to re-file the petition and pay
another filing fee.