Chesterton Tribune



Planners hear pitch for a Dollar General on the old Lipinski Automotive property

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The old Lipinski Automotive property at 1300 Broadway--which for more than a year the Chesterton Town Council has hoped to acquire for a possible expansion of the landlocked municipal complex at 1490 Broadway--could be the home of a new Dollar General instead.

At its meeting Thursday night, the Advisory Plan Commission heard a pitch from Michael Young of the engineering firm Falk PLI under which the property, about an acre and a half in size, would be subdivided and one of the parcels sold to Dollar General, while Tom Lipinski would retain ownership of the other parcel.

That concept, however, would require a planned unit development ordinance permitting a B-2 use--the Dollar General--in an I-1 zone. Other variances would likely be necessary as well, Town Engineer Mark O’Dell said, specifically regarding setbacks but possibly others too.

One planner did express skepticism about the concept. Tom Kopko, who in the past has objected to the down-zone of commercial property to residential, similarly dislikes the idea of down-zoning industrial to commercial. “We have even less industrial than commercial in town,” he noted.

Two planners, in contrast, thought the concept a pretty good one. “It would be hard to put anything industrial on that property at this time,” Jim Kowalski suggested.

“It’s sat there for my 20 odd years in town,” George Stone added. “It’s just been a run-down garage and a vacant lot full of weeds and junk cars. It would be a plus for the town.”

“I agree,” Kowalski said.

Planners took no action on Thursday. The next step would be a preliminary hearing on the proposed PUD, which Lipinski has not yet requested.

Villages of Sand Creek

In a second concept review, members heard a proposal from the Homeowners Association of the Villages of Sand Creek to use a sum of money estimated at $40,000--and for years held in escrow for the construction of sidewalks in the development--to expand a children’s play area located just north of Sawgrass Drive and east of Ballenisle Court.

Attorney Clay Patton, representing the HOA’s board of directors, told the commission that for various reasons the planned sidewalks were never built and at this point--given the fact that they were meant to be routed behind residents’ homes--would probably irk a lot of folks interested in their privacy.

So the HOA conducted a survey of Villages of Sand Creek residents to determine an alternative use of the escrow funds. The top preference was the erection of a wall and signage at the west entrance to the subdivision but that idea was ultimately rejected as infeasibly costly.

The second preference: an expanded play area.

Members had two concerns. The first: whether the HOA actually is legally entitled to use those funds for any reason.

Both Patton and Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson are of the opinion that the HOA is in fact legally entitled, as the owner of all the common areas in the Villages of Sand Creek.

Planners’ second concern: whether the majority of Villages of Sand Creek residents actually do want to see an expanded children’s area, inasmuch as only 40 percent of them bothered to return the survey.

“I have no problem with the concept but whether it’s a consensus view,” Stone said. “We don’t want to be the arbitrator between one half of your people and the other half.”

President Sharon Darnell couldn’t have agreed more. “I don’t want to get stuck in a room a couple of months from now with a bunch of people screaming at us,” she said.

The commission took no action on Thursday, although Parkinson did say that he and Patton would attempt to determine the extent of the HOA board’s authority to make decisions on behalf of all residents of the Villages of Sand Creek.



Posted 6/21/2019




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