A pitch was made to
the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission Thursday for a residential and
commercial planned unit development with a potential investment of $35
million at the southeast corner of the Ind. 49 and the Toll Road off North
Calumet Ave. in Liberty Twp.
Reardon, of SEH Inc., along with Derek Tucker, representing the current
property owner Fifth Third Bank, presented the Commission with maps showing
plans for the 44 acre site with seven acres nearest to the roadway dedicated
to commercial and retail purposes, about 30 acres of multi-family
residential housing and 11 acres specifically for stormwater management and
A PUD had been
approved there by the Chesterton Town Council in 2008 for I-80 Partners LLC
after the land was annexed in 2007. The terms of that PUD included a
mixed-use of commercial to the west and unspecified residential to the east,
but to this day the land remains vacant.
The property had
been eyed as a possible location for a Wal-Mart store, but the retail giant
decided it wasn’t interested, Reardon said, as did Target.
It is also too
small to accommodate an industrial building which is why Fifth Third would
like to pursue a mix of retail/office and residential, he said. A fueling
company has expressed interest.
area would be upscale, Reardon said, with two-story buildings and masonry
exterior. There are also plans to put in a trail.
“This is one of the
possible uses for this property. You have an active bank that wants to get
behind it. That’s a good thing,” Reardon said.
One of the factors
that makes this a challenging site is that it borders the North Porter
County Conservation Club and gun range, Reardon said. Still, the property
will be better priced than what was sold for the nearby Porter Regional
Hospital and development will increase the town’s tax base, he said.
president George Stone and other members questioned the use of residential
homes for this site given its proximity to the conservation club.
“I look at this as
who wants to live sandwiched between a gun range and a toll road?” Stone
The gun range is in
unincorporated Liberty Twp., outside of Chesterton’s jurisdiction.
Reardon said the
situation is comparable to residential developments in Burns Harbor with
homes and apartment that are also right on the highway. The concept plan
could be adjusted if the town so desires, he added.
The purpose of him
and Tucker coming to the meeting was to see if a new PUD is even possible,
He added that Fifth
Third intends to move forward carefully and ensure no neighboring property
is impacted negatively.
Planner Jeff Trout
said the proposal is “180 degrees” of the town’s long term plan for the
area. The town in 2012 worked with Porter County Government to extend
sanitary sewer and water utilities past the Toll Road on Ind. 49, Trout said
for the purpose of creating jobs, not for building more homes and apartment
“The market in
Chesterton has turned around since 2008,” said Trout.
Stone said he sees
the plan’s feasibility is “definitely related to the gun range” and said
that Fifth Third “has some convincing to do” if they want to move forward.
DeLaney said he would like for an updated concept plan to address traffic
control on Ind. 49.
Impact fee approved
In other business,
the Commission held public hearings for two ordinances -- one to amend the
number of days and copies required for a petitioner to submit engineering
concept plans and the other to reduce the town’s park impact fee.
saw any comments from the floor.
According to the
changes in the subdivision control ordinance, five copies of drawings and
data are to be submitted by the petitioner, which would need to be filed 20
days prior to a preliminary review or public hearing, instead of the current
17 days. Copies will be made for department heads to review first and any
revisions shall be made 10 days prior to the meeting of the plan commission.
The Commission also
voted unanimously to recommend the Town Council establish a new park impact
fee imposing a fee of $889 for builders on each new residential dwelling
unit, a 24 percent reduction from the current fee of $1,171.
The impact fees
will be used to help cover costs of anticipated deficiencies in Parks and
Prior to the vote,
DeLaney asked attorney Julie Paulson to clarify language regarding the
appeal process that says “the town shall not deny the issuance of a building
permit on the basis that the impact fee has not been paid.”
Paulson said the
appeal process language is required by law to be in the ordinance.
Town Engineer Mark
O’Dell said that appeals on impact fees are very rare and usually the
developer pays the fee once they read the ordinance. If an appeal is denied
and the petitioner has not paid the fee, the town can issue a stop work
order on the development, he said.