Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton planners skeptical of sign request at Indian Oak

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The Chesterton Plan Commission discussed business signage at its meeting Thursday night.

The Commission held two preliminary hearings--one that was set for public hearing next month and one that was continued for next month.

In the hearing that was continued, the debate was acceptable types of signs and locations. Lake County Trust Company c/o attorney Greg Bouwer sought a public hearing for an amendment to the planned unit development (PUD) district ordinance for the Indian Oak shopping center at the southwest corner of Indian Boundary Road and Ind. 49. Bouwer said Lake County Trust Co. is the owner of the Walgreen’s and the strip mall housing a discount cigarette store and McColly’s Realty behind it, as well as the plaza with the Dollar Tree and O’Reilly Auto Parts farther west on Indian Boundary.

Bouwer sought a public hearing to consider a 25-foot tall freestanding sign on Ind. 49 that would advertise the businesses in the strip mall behind the Walgreen’s. Chesterton code allows only one sign on each property, but Bouwer argued that the signs for the Walgreen’s and the shared sign advertising other businesses in that plaza are on “common space” according to the legal description of the property and are not part of Lake County Trust’s property.

Town Engineer Mark O’Dell disagreed with that assertion, saying the legal description of the property is lacking. O’Dell also said the sign is larger than Town code allows, which is a maximum height of 18 feet. Depending on further review, the petition may require a variance to allow more than one sign on a commercial property, as well as a variance allowing the taller sign.

Bouwer says his reasoning for the new signage is that Lake County Trust Co. is bound by a restrictive declaration within the Indian Oak development that doesn’t allow them to advertise for the strip mall on the shared sign. Bouwer also cited the rise in competition from online retailers like Amazon to say that advertising for brick and mortar businesses is crucial now more than ever.

Commission Member James Kowalski said the Town has denied many requests for freestanding signs over the years and is trying to get away from them by asking businesses to choose monument-style signs instead. “In any good community that is going forward, you’re not gonna see these freestanding signs,” he said.

Commission President George Stone, for his part, wondered what good the sign would do on Ind. 49 in the proposed placing, which is past the intersection with Indian Boundary and facing north. Stone pointed out that people would see the sign while driving south but not be able to turn into the businesses advertised.

Member Jeff Trout suggested that Bouwer should clarify how much retail space there is versus the amount of signage and where all the signage is located in a full site plan. Commission Attorney Charles Parkinson suggested Bouwer go a step further and draft an ordinance specifying his client’s needs for the property.

The Commission opted to continue the preliminary hearing next month affording Bouwer time to organize that information.

In the other preliminary hearing, Shinn Building and Developing Corporation c/o attorney Greg Babcock sought a public hearing for a request to rezone property on the west side of South Calumet Road near the intersection with Washington Avenue. Shinn Building and Developing owns two corner parcels there zoned for business use, Babcock said.

Babcock said the company acquired several parcels in that area and had them rezoned from business to residential use in 2011 on two conditions: the parcels facing South Calumet Road remained zoned for business, and the company would seek buyers or tenants looking to develop it. Babcock says the company would like to develop it for residential use to finish the block of residential area now that several years have passed without any serious interest in the business property.

The Commission voted to set the matter for public hearing at the next meeting, August 16.

Other Business

A public hearing where Urschel Laboratories Inc. was going to seek approval for an amendment to the Coffee Creek Center PUD to add sidewalks did not take place because Urschel sent a letter asking for continuance. The Commission voted to continue the hearing in August.



Posted 7/20/2018




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