Chesterton Tribune



Planners: Is it a retirement village if meals aren't provided?

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John Nekus’ “retirement village” is looking less like a retirement village and more like a typical residential subdivision with an ancillary “community center.”

The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission did vote unanimously at its meeting Thursday to hold a public hearing on Thursday, Nov. 21, on the primary plat of the Duneland Prairie Retirement Village, but at least one planner expressed skepticism about Nekus’ interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance’s definition of that use.

At issue: the 11.28 acres on which Nekus wants to develop the retirement village--behind the Chesterton Post Office, immediately east of Westchester South and south of Richter Street--are zoned B-3. And one of the allowable B-3 uses stipulated by the Zoning Ordinance is retirement village. But the Zoning Ordinance is specific about what a retirement village is: “A business venture for the establishment of a retirement village for senior citizens that will provide for the privacy of the individual residents in private dwelling units but also including such basic services as barber shops, beauty shops, gift shops, pharmacies, and a centralized kitchen and dining area.”

More: “A retirement village must also meet all of the following criteria: (1) have a centralized kitchen and dining area to accommodate all occupants of the facility; (2) have a full-time staff member on site; (3) comply with all ADA requirements; (4) have a maximum of two persons per unit; and (5) at least one occupant of each unit must be 55 years of age.”

Nekus does not intend, however, to build anything like The Symphony, StoryPoint, or Addison Pointe but rather 42 residential units in 21 separate duplexes, which would be sold outright. As his attorney, Greg Babcock, told planners on Thursday, the total number of units is fewer than the 62 which Nekus sought to build as part of a rejected planned unit development earlier this year. And Nekus would not be seeking any variances and all roadways and sidewalks would be built to Town Standards and dedicated to the town.

(On the other hand, the rear-yard setbacks in B-3 are only 10 feet, not the 25 feet required by R-1 and R-2.)

For planners the crux of the matter is the community building, a 2,500-square foot facility which according to a drawing provided by Nekus would feature a “community hall/dining room,” a “kitchenette,” a “convenience store/coffee shop,” a “beauty salon/barber shop,” and an office. Planner George Stone wanted to know what Nekus’ timeline for the community center would be. “When will the community center be built?” he asked. “A key element is that there has to be a community center. When will meals be provided?”

In fact, Babcock said, every unit in every duplex will have a centralized kitchen, just as every R-1, R-2, and R-3 unit in the Town of Chesterton has a centralized kitchen. And it would be the homeowners association which would determine--“at some point”--whether meals would ever actually be provided at the community center. Because, Babcock noted, the Zoning Ordinance “doesn’t say you have to provide regular meals.”

Stone’s observation: “That sounds like nitpicking.”

“What will the kitchen (in the community center) look like?” planner Tom Kopko pressed. “I’ve seen the drawing. My own kitchen at home is bigger than that. I’m not seeing where that kitchen will provide 84 meals three times a day.”

“Our view of the kitchen--” Nekus began to say.

“I know what your view is,” Kopko interrupted him. “What matters is our view.”

Planner Fred Owens, for his part, suggested that community center could easily be enlarged simply by eliminating one of the duplexes on the lot immediately to the north of the site and expanding the facility’s footprint.

Babcock said that his client would consider the suggestion.

There matters stood on Thursday, with planners voting to hold a public hearing on the primary plat at their next meeting.

Villages of Sand Creek

In other business, planners voted unanimously to amend the planned unit development ordinance governing the Villages of Sand Creek, allowing the Villages of Sand Creek Home Owners Association to use $40,000 which for years has been held in escrow to expand a children’s play area located just north of Sawgrass Drive and east of Ballenisle Court.

That money had originally been intended to build walking trails but in June the HOA’s attorney, Clay Patton, told planners that for various reasons the trails were never built and at this point--given the fact that they were meant to be routed behind residents’ homes--the trails would probably irk a lot of folks interested in privacy.

At a public hearing which preceded the vote, no one spoke in favor of the amendment but two spoke in opposition.

“The playground is right behind my home,” Criselda Martinez said. “They’re going to expand toward my home. I feel that’s too close. I feel like there’s no privacy. They’re playing, making noise, I have to close my windows.”

Martinez added that, had she known about the playground’s expansion before she purchased her home, she wouldn’t have bought it.

Andrew Harrell also objected to the expansion and suggested that the escrow funds be used to “support other common areas.”

Patton responded by noting that the area on which the playground will be expanded already belongs to the HOA. “This is all HOA common area,” he said. “We’re not encroaching. This is all HOA property. We’re not violating any setbacks.”

When asked whether the HOA has the right to expand the playground, on its own property, Associate Town Attorney Connor Nolan answered in the affirmative.

Dollar General

Planners also voted unanimously to approve the secondary plat for the Dollar General on the old Lipinski Automotive property, 1600 Broadway. As part of that approval, no building permit will be issued to Dollar General until the construction drawings and stormwater pollution prevention plan have been completed and approved by the Building Department.



Posted 10/18/2019




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