Chesterton Tribune


Duneland seeks to turn 5th Street Materials Center building into wellness clinic for school staff

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Duneland School Corp. wants to use its former Instructional Materials Center to house a health and wellness center for Duneland employees, their dependents, retirees and other covered health-plan participants.

Because the proposed primary/preventive-care center at 411 S. 5th St., is in a Residential-2 zoning district, the petition requires a use variance.

Meeting Thursday, Chestertonís Board of Zoning Appeals set a public hearing on the request for Feb. 28. An additional variance for the required number of parking spaces also may be added.

Novia CareClinics of Indianapolis will manage and operate the new facility. Joe Wright, the companyís implementation manager, said although participants can make appointments between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. for their convenience, the clinic will be open only about 20 hours per week. Limited Saturday hours may occur some weeks.

The IMC site could be used by qualified participants from other school corporations that participate in the Porter County Insurance Trust, said Duneland assistant superintendent David Pruis. Novia CareClinics operates other locations for the group but none in this area.

Duneland was represented by attorney Greg Babcock. He said the school district wants to keep costs down by using a building itís owned since 1969, and that itís not advisable for a sick patient to go into an occupied school interacting with students.

Responding to questions from BZA members, the Duneland representatives said medications used will be under secure storage, but no controlled substances will be on-site. Laboratory tests will be offered as well as basic medical care, chronic disease management and wellness initiatives, but no diagnostic imaging or emergency treatment would be available.

Babcock said initially 1,720 square feet of the 5,100 square-foot building will be remodeled for clinic use, however, the zoning request is for 2,200 square feet in case physical therapy is added at a later date.

In other business, the petition of Craig and Rebecca Rothman was continued at his request as another preliminary hearing next month. The Rothmans seek a variance to legalize a 12-foot by 12-foot garden shed erected without a building permit at 324 Jefferson Ave. The shed is less than 5 feet from a side lot line in violation of town code.

"Iím at the mercy of you,Ē Craig Rothman told the BZA. Said member Fred Owens, ďThe shed is nice but itís close --- right there.Ē Rothman said the neighbor hasnít complained.

Owens noted that the Rothmans have a garage, pool, pool cabana and shed in addition to the house. BZA attorney Julie Paulson said there is no restriction on the number of accessory buildings; whether the structures exceed the percentage of lot coverage allowed will be determined and another variance added if necessary.

The nightís third petition --- for Johnsonís Automotive at 301 N. Calumet Rd. --- was continued for a second month. Late last year the business filed to allow a freestanding sign within 200 feet of an existing sign.

The December continuance was at the petitionerís request, but as of last night no one had heard from him and no additional paperwork was filed. Paulson said if the BZA dismisses a petition for not pursuing it, the applicant has to wait six months before reapplying.

During 2013 reorganization the BZA retained last yearís officers: Rodney Corder as president, Thomas Browne as vice-president and Gail Murawski as secretary. Member Jim Kowalski was absent.

Owens, who also sits on the townís Advisory Plan Commission, reported on that boardís progress in drafting updates to the Chesterton sign ordinance. Browne asked what the policy is for temporary signs in yards. Paulson said itís a grey area but up to the Building Department to enforce.

Town engineer Mark OíDell said temporary signs are allowed for a limited period of time to announce or advertise educational, charitable, philanthropic, civic or religious events, but those categories are not better defined.

Browne took no position on the matter, but said it can be a poor reflection on any community with signs all over it.

Posted 1/25/2013