Chesterton Tribune



Growing Kids child care petition advances to June 19 hearing

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Michael Garatoni, president of Growing Kids Learning Centers, told the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission he hopes to open the companyís seventh site early next year here.

Following a preliminary hearing Thursday, the commission set June 19 for a public hearing on the petition.

Growing Kids attorney Todd Leeth said the daycare/learning center wants to develop 3.8 vacant acres at the Chesterton Professional Complex at the southwest corner of County Road 1100N and South 11th Street.

The state-licensed facility would serve infants from typically six weeks old through ages 10 or 11, and be open from approximately 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. to accomodate parentsí day-turn and afternoon shifts.

In addition to private vehicles, smaller buses and possibly school buses would drop-off and pick-up children, said Leeth responding to a question from commission member Jeff Trout.

Commission member Emerson DeLaney asked if sidewalks are included in the plan. Leeth said Growing Kids would install an 8 foot-wide sidewalk across its 1100N frontage as part of the Westchester-Liberty Trail, and a standard 5 foot-wide sidewalk along the 11th Street side.

Commission member Sig Niepokoj inquired whether the retention basin would be fenced. Garatoni said final site engineering isnít completed but if the slope dictates, it will be although the chance of kids being near the basin are very slim because the Growing Kids play area will be fenced.

Commission president George Stone said a consideration is neighborhood children outside the fenced area.

DeLaney asked if the facilityís services include sleeping, food service and a kitchen. Garatoni said cots are provided for naps, and on-site meals and snacks will be served.

Leeth said the Chesterton Professional Complex was approved in 1984 and a document was recorded, but itís unclear from public records the exact uses approved for the site at that time. Growing Kids wants to acquire three parcels (the fourth is a dental clinic) and combine them as an amendment to the original development plan.

Garatoni said he hopes to start construction in Chesterton later this year. Elkhart-based Growing Kids has a learning center at 3400 Campbell St. in Valparaiso.

In other business, the commission voted 5-0 with Tom Kopko and Fred Owens absent to find that the Chesterton Redevelopment Commissionís intent to install fiber-optic infrastructure in the townís three TIF districts conforms to the current comprehensive plan. An order was approved for each district.

Niepokoj asked if the rubble still on site at the former Quonset hut on Broadway will be removed by the owner. Interim building commissioner Mike Orlich said a final notice for clean-up has been ignored and itís now a matter of code enforcement in cooperation with the town attorney.

Commission attorney Chuck Parkinson said he plans to meet with Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg to determine if there are any infrastructure deficiencies tied to development projects for which guarantees expired long ago with likely no ability to recoup repair funds now.


Posted 5/16/2014