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