Advisory Plan Commission has approved the primary plat for a double-hotel
project at Coffee Creek Center.
The lone dissenting
vote at Thursday night’s special meeting: planner George Stone’s, on the
ground that the orientation of the two hotels--fronting Ind. 49 and accessed
by an extended Matson Drive from the south and a new street, Ketring Road,
from the north--will lead to traffic congestion in the area of the Culver’s
restaurant and AJ’s Pizza.
The two hotels--a
Fairfield Inn & Suites and a Holiday Express Inn--are being developed by
Amerilodge Group of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. The Fairfield will feature 87
rooms in three stories; the Holiday Inn, 90 rooms in four stories.
attorney, Greg Babcock, told the commission that the site is ideal for the
two hotels, not only because of its proximity to Indiana Toll Road but
because it’s located next door to several restaurants and the Speedway gas
station. “You’re fortunate you have in that setting businesses and amenities
to serve the tourist trade,” he said. “You have the ability to capture
people from outside the town.”
To which Stone
absolutely agreed. “I think this will be a major addition to Chesterton,” he
said. But he immediately added that, inasmuch as Blackwell Street--where
Matson Drive currently dead-ends--is already generally packed with parked
cars on both sides of the roadway, often making it impossible for two
oncoming vehicles to pass each other at the same time. Funneling traffic
into the hotel site via an extended Matson Drive “will certainly increase
suggested, the two hotels should face east, not west, and primary access to
the site should be off Village Point, with guests of the hotels having the
choice of entering and exiting Coffee Creek Center via two main roadways:
Gateway Blvd. or Voyage Blvd. “I’m unconvinced having an entrance on the
west side is imperative to that business,” he said.
for Amerilodge, with all due respect to Stone disagreed. “Facing west is
what they believe is the most appropriate place for a successful business,”
on the commission also disagreed. “Say we flipped the entrance around so
it’s on Village Point,” he said. “You’re going to increase the traffic on
Village Point because everybody will be going in there.” And he added,
“Chesterton needs more economic development for the tax base. We can’t stay
a bedroom community. We can’t keep being the Community of No.”
that extending Matson Drive will help the flow of traffic,” planner Nate
Cobbs said for his part. “I’m very excited to have this project. I’m
thrilled it’s coming to town.”
“As a frequent
traveler, I would appreciate being able to see the hotels off Ind. 49,”
planner Fred Owens remarked.
Town Engineer Mark
O’Dell, commenting on the original design of the planned unit development
ordinance in 1998, indicated that this extreme northwest corner of Coffee
Creek Center--with the Speedway, Culver’s, and AJ’s Pizza accessed by Matson
Drive and Blackwell Street--was conceived as “its own little subdivision,”
with its own traffic pattern intended to keep speeds slow. Village Point,
however, has no middle left-turn lane, and funneling hotel guests onto it
would likely generate congestion, not relieve it.
unpersuaded and cast his vote against the primary plat.
There was a second
issue at Thursday’s meeting, and though it proved not to be a sticking
point, planner Tom Kopko was adamant about it: the landscaping plan for the
east side--the back side--of the two hotels.
So far as Kopko’s
concerned, that plan leaves something to be desired. “If you’re going to put
the butt end of a motel on a main drag like Village Point, it can’t look
like the butt end of a motel,” he said.
Kopko that Amerilodge is working on a landscaping plan which will satisfy
him, while O’Dell noted that approval of the secondary plat, possibly at the
commission’s December meeting, can be made contingent on the appropriateness
of the plan.
At a public hearing
which preceding the vote, no one spoke in opposition to it. One person spoke
in favor of it, attorney Kevin Warren, representing the Lake Erie Land
Company. “We’re here in support of the project,” he said. “This is a good
Babcock told the
Chesterton Tribune after the meeting that ground could break on the
project sometime in the spring.