Advisory Plan Commission is taking a skeptical view of PSR LLC’s concept for
a proposed planned unit development south of 1100N and across the street
from Dogwood Park.
PSR appeared before
the commission at its meeting Thursday night for an informal concept review,
the first stage in the PUD process following the Town Council’s annexation
of the 58 acres earlier this summer. At the time, council members made it
clear that the annexation was in no way an endorsement of the proposed PUD
but simply the only way in their power to exercise control over the
meeting, PSR’s attorney, Greg Babcock, told planners that PSR wants to build
37 single-family homes and two commercial buildings of 4,050 square feet
each. The commercial buildings would be located at the far west end of the
property and would be zoned, according to the proposed PUD, B-3, the most
intense commercial zone in the Chesterton Zoning Ordinance. Babcock also
said that there would be five “access points” to the PUD off 1100, three of
them “T-driveways” which would be maintained by the property owners
that, by his own inventory of available rental units in Chesterton, there is
a need for “quality office space in town.” He added that he understands
that, while “the neighbors are concerned” about the prospect of B-3 along
1100N, “we believe there is a market for good upscale office space.”
also provided planners with a list of other possible B-3 uses for the two
commercial buildings, including greenhouse, plant nursery, antique shop,
furniture shop, gift shop, drug store, coin laundry, convenience store,
restaurant, child care center, tanning salon, funeral home, and church.
Planners wasted no
time in expressing their concerns about the concept. “That whole area,
whether you like it or not, is residential,” Jim Kowalski said. “And now you
want to throw commercial into it. You’re going to have to prove to this
board why you actually need the commercial structures, why you need
commercial structures to make a go of it. That’s taking the residential
quality out of the neighborhood.”
Hammar contested Babcock’s suggestion that the town needs more commercial
space, and noted that, under the Chesterton Comprehensive Plan as it stands
now and as it’s being revised, that stretch of 1100N is in no way designated
for commercial uses of any kind. In any case, she said, “there are areas in
town where there is commercial land available for commercial development.”
Planner Fred Owens,
on the other hand, saw no real issue with the construction of two commercial
buildings and compared it favorably to the mixed-use concept implemented
with varying degrees of success at Coffee Creek Center. “The commercial I
don’t think is something alien,” he said. “I think it works.”
“Commercial and residential have to lend itself,” he said. “This area I
don’t think lends itself. Coffee Creek Center is a different animal
entirely. Apples and oranges.”
cocked their collective eye at the five separate road cuts. “Can we get a
fire engine into one of the T-driveways and get it turned around?” she asked
Fire Chief John Jarka.
“I don’t think so,”
Jarka said. The engine would have to be backed out. Or hoses would have to
be laid from the other side of 1100N.
Town Engineer Mark
O’Dell noted that both Police Chief Dave Cincoski and Street Commissioner
John Schnadenberg have strong reservations about the T-driveways. “I think
we have to get outside the box on this,” he said.
particular wanted to know why none of the roadcuts is aligned either with
23rd Street, which dead-ends at the property, or with the 1100N driveway for
“I hate to say it,
but that’s more an engineering question,” Babcock said.
Darnell wasn’t done
yet, though. As she remembered the original concept, the two commercial
buildings were sited in the middle of the development, with the residential
units clustered around them. Why now have they been pushed to the far west
end, abutting the property of unincorporated Liberty Township residents?
“We’re supposed to be stewards of the community and you put commercial
there,” she said. “Those are our neighbors too.”
Marchetti had one other concern: drainage. “Has a study been done to see if
the detention pond would work?” he asked.
that there is a ditch on the property--which neither the town nor the county
has jurisdiction over--that has “caused some problems we have to address.”
But drainage, he added, is “part of the PUD process we have to talk about.”
Planners took no
action on Thursday except to voice their concerns. The next step: PSR must
file a petition for a preliminary hearing.