Chesterton Tribune



Planners continue Tamarack request to swap residential for business uses

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Three neighbors speaking Thursday opposed giving Paul Shinn the option of building four, four-unit townhomes instead of commercial buildings at his Tamarack Plaza development at the northeast corner of Rail Road and County Road 100E.

But Shinn said after 13 years the one existing commercial building there hasnít had the marketing draw heíd hoped and the project needs a jump-start to get it going again.

Amid concerns by some that the townhomes could become rental apartments for landlords, the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission postponed a decision and continued its public hearing to March 20, giving Shinn attorney Greg Babcock time to propose language more in keeping with a condominium development.

Babcock advised that even condo projects whose units are held by individual owners still have the flexibility to rent those units under state law.

Speaking against the multi-family Tamarack residential units were Doug Lowery, Jeff Deuberry and Dorothy Harger. Lowery said single-family homes in the area would see a loss in their investment, and he didnít want 16 families in his back yard.

Deuberry said he thought the original plan was to allow a few residences above commercial businesses, not multi-family to be the primary use; he cited increased traffic and reminded that in 2001 the neighbors had preferred single-family uses for the Shinn parcel.

Debated was how adaptable planned unit developments should be to account for market trends. Neighbor Kim Goldak said she favors Shinnís request to amend his 2001 PUD plan because conditions change and itís important to encourage progress that betters our community.

Commission president George Stone, who opposed the commercial development originally, said if itís taken this long to realize that concept isnít working, will the town wait another 13 years to find out residential didnít either?

Babcock said no one can predict the economy and markets, and itís not unusual to amend a PUD, which the town has done for the Coffee Creek Center and Indian Oak Mall PUDs before, he noted.

Shinn said he and his partners have no intention of starting anything tomorrow, but itís important to market the stalled project as either commercial buildings or townhomes/condos to appeal to wider interest. Babcock said there is adequate parking on site for 16 new townhomes.

Commission member Jeff Trout said Shinn lives very near his commercial site so itís not likely heíd jeopardize his own neighborhood. Vote to continue the petition was unanimous.

Stone hearing in March

Again voting 7-0, the commission set March 20 for a formal public hearing on the proposed 25-lot, single-family subdivision being developed by Bill and Marci Stone on 10.5 acres at the southwest corner of County Roads 1100N and 50W.

The commission conducted a concept review in January and Babcock, the Stonesí attorney, said the couple is excited to get the subdivision going. The site is the former Victory Park recreation field across from Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

Commission member Sig Niepokoj inquired about the proposed 1.6-acre detention pond. He was told it will be about 4 feet deep but have a walkable slope and safety shelf so someone could easily climb out.

Babcock said heís presented the subdivision plans to the Chesterton Park Board (the project is across the street from Dogwood Park East), the town Utility Board is considering an extension of sewer services, and developers will have a letter from the Porter County Drainage Board.

Stone said whatís contained in the subdivision covenants isnít the Plan Commissionís call but he noted they appear to be detailed and restrictive. ďIt seems like it would make it a cute, cookie-cutter development.Ē

Babcock said the Stones want the homes to be somewhat upscale and standards have to be set to maintain that pricing structure. Last month $250,000 to $325,000 homes on approximately 1/4-acre lots were described. The site is in town and no annexation is needed.

Homeowners can remodel

The commission unanimously modified a May 3, 2012 stop-work order for the Villages of Sand Creek to enable existing homes already built there to make improvements.

Bruce Deckard said he lives in Phase 4 and wants to do a remodeling project but his contractor was denied a building permit. Stone said the stop-work order should apply only to unsold lots, but commission attorney Charles Parkinson said thatís not the clear meaning of the 2012 motion.

Commission members said the intent was to resolve issues with the developer only, not inconvenience existing residents, so the orderís intent was clarified.



Posted 2/21/2014