Said Chesterton Town Council member Jim Ton last month, “People in Morgan
Park will be watching what happens on that corner.”
Apparently, they were watching something else Thursday night when the
Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission conducted a public hearing on a rezoning
of the Porter hospital ambulance station property on the edge of Morgan
No one commented either for or against the Porter County Commissioners’
petition to rezone the 2.4-acre parcel at the southwest corner of Porter
Avenue and Indiana 49 from Residential-2 to Business-2. Only a few people
attended the meeting.
On a 4-1 vote with Tom Kopko and Fred Owens absent, the commission
recommended to the Town Council that it finalize the rezoning. The matter
will be on the council’s June 13 agenda.
Although the county is the underlying property owner, attorney Greg Babcock
said the Duneland Chamber of Commerce needs the appropriate business zoning
to obtain financing for its planned $170,000 Chesterton welcome sign and LED
message board recently approved for the south end of the parcel.
The Plan Commission’s recommendation carries commitments from the
commissioners to exclude certain possible future uses including nursing
home, retirement village, greenhouse, all auto-service uses, retail food
sales/fast-food restaurants, and recreational uses. Added last night were
fireworks, alcohol sales and convenience stores.
Commission member Jeff Ton voted no on the petition. During the meeting he
asked what uses still would be allowed on the property, which abuts the
undeveloped eastern edge of Chesterton Cemetery south of Porter Avenue.
Babcock said allowable uses are a bank, business offices, child care,
medical/veterinary clinic, tanning salon, funeral home, church, antique
shop, florist and office supply among others. He noted Horizon Bank is in
Morgan Park across the street from the ambulance station as are a Wendy’s
business office and the Duneland YMCA, all on Roosevelt Street.
After the meeting Jeff Ton said, “I was shocked that there weren’t really
more people (at the public hearing).”
He lives on Roosevelt, said it’s a main entrance to the historic
subdivision, and if the ambulance station becomes a business, “That’s
something I’d look out my window and see. I don’t feel Morgan Park needs to
have any more businesses. I envision a park there.”
Commission member George Stone said there’s added protection for residents
because some of the uses still allowed on the commissioners’ land wouldn’t
be able to be built because the parcel is irregularly shaped and it likely
would be difficult to meet parking and other requirements.
Babcock said he also lives in Morgan Park and with the 1977 opening of the
Indiana 49 bypass, things changed with approximately 30,000 vehicles now
traveling the divided highway daily.
Porter Avenue is described in Chesterton’s comprehensive plan as a collector
street so traffic will happen, he added. The commissioners’ property has one
road cut onto Porter. Babcock also noted the comprehensive plan, updated in
2010, anticipates the ambulance station one day will be business/medical
offices and encourages rezoning for that use.
In addition to the Chamber’s planned sign, which will replace an old wooden
one that blew down in December, a Vietnam Veterans memorial is located south
of the ambulance station on the same parcel.
Commission and council member Emerson DeLaney said if the county property
changes hands, he’d hate to see the veterans’ memorial harmed in any way.
When the rezoning petition is presented to the Town Council June 13, Babcock
was asked to confirm the continued existence of the memorial is provided for
by the commissioners.
DeLaney and commission member Jeff Trout, who also sits on the Town Council,
both said it’s good that future uses on the commissioners’ site will be
restricted. Added Trout, “With the commitments, we’ve done a pretty good job
protecting the (Morgan Park) neighbors so anything that would go in there is
In other business, the commission forwarded a unanimous recommendation to
the Town Council that it rezone from Business-3 to Residential-1 two parcels
at 190 E. Mekeland Lane owned by Lewis and Lisa Graff. The property is north
of U.S. 20 and west of Veden Road. The couple want to build a home.
Lewis Graff said no businesses are left in the area and owners of two others
parcels near him expressed an interest in seeking residential rezoning as
well. No one commented during a public hearing on the petition.