Chesterton Tribune



Planners split 4-1 on Easton Park; Kopko seeks more green space

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A lower density for Easton Park -- formerly known as Sand Creek Farms -- on CR 250E and the eastern terminus of East Porter Ave., garnered a favorable vote from the Chesterton Plan Commission on Thursday by 4-1.

The public hearing on an amendment to the governing planned unit development ordinance for Easton Park was continued from last month in order for attorney Todd Leeth and one of the property owners, Eric Gastevich of Olson Farms LLC, to submit the rest of the necessary documentation.

Easton Parks sits on a 132-acre site and the amendment sought is to lower the density from 362 residential lots to 346 with 22 acres total of open space throughout the development.

The open space was the biggest point of contention for the planners as commission member Thomas Kopko said he would prefer there be more space for residents and their children to recreate.

“There’s very little space to do anything there,” said Kopko. “That is bothersome.”

“Unless they wanted to play in the drainage ditch,” joked planner Fred Owens.

But Leeth and Gastevich pointed out that in the PUD they have agreed to donate 20 acres of property that Gastevich owns directly south on CR 1050N for the Town of Chesterton to use as a park. An adjacent parcel is owned by the Duneland School Corporation which had indicated a willingness to help develop the park.

Whether the Town decides to annex the property is “in the hands of the Town,” not Olson Farms, they said.

But Town Engineer Mark O’Dell argued “the ball can’t be in the (Town’s) court” because there is no contiguity between the 1050E property and the Town’s incorporated limits, making it not possible to annex. He didn’t think it was right of the Town to forcefully acquire property in order to make the annexation.

Leeth said that Easton Park will agree to pay the Town’s park impact fees to support existing parks in Chesterton. The open space in Easton Park is intended to be for passive use and yards would be of good side, he said.

Planner Jeff Trout said he likes the way the plan has gone forward and commended the petitioners on what they presented. “I think it’s a good plan long term,” he said.

The vote went 4-1 with Kopko opposing and President George Stone expressing some hesitation before saying yes.

The original PUD for Sand Creek Farms had been approved in 2008 but currently remains vacant.

Conservancy Point plat approved

Voting the same way as they did on an amendment to the PUD, a 4-1 majority approved a recommendation for primary plat approval of the project dubbed Conservancy Point at Coffee Creek Center featuring upscale apartment units.

A few audience members who had addressed the Council when the PUD amendment was presented for public hearing in August were in attendance. Stone said the plat review is “only looking at the technical aspects” as the character of the property is decided in the PUD.

The property is located on 15.84 acres with Rail Road to the north, Kelle Drive to the west, Sidewalk Road to the east and Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy to the south. There are 170 residential units in 23 different buildings planned, with a density of 9.39 units per acre.

Attorney Greg Babcock said there will be no public improvements inside the development and maintenance will be taken care of by private residents.

Lake Erie Land attorney Kevin Warren said LEL “highly supports” the project and the presence of green space resulting from it.

Resident Jim Nelson asked if there was going to be an onsite manager in cases of emergencies. Babcock replied there would in fact be a “full-time” onsite manager.

Developer Jeff Ban of In Good Company (ICG) addressed Nelson’s concerns regarding drainage saying they’ll make sure there is adequate drainage away from the residences. The development has a grading plan.

O’Dell said storm water will flow onto internal roadways and be routed to stormwater basins.

The lone “no” vote was from Kopko who again gave as a reason, “Too much gray, not enough green.”

11th Street Rezone

It’s never been used as a residential property but it’s been zoned as such for a long time.

The Plan Commission however voted unanimously to make the recommendation to the Town Council to rezone two lots currently R-3 residential to B-2 business.

Vic Gerhardt, whose wife Laura Gerhardt is the petitioner in the case, has remodeled the building on the lots located adjacent to Val’s Pizza.

The property started off as a dentist’s office in the late 1950’s, Babcock said, and has also housed a physician’s and a veterinarian’s office and “there is no proof that’s ever been a residence.” The Gerhardts look to lease the property.

Babcock said because of having just five parking spaces, the B-2 designation would be most compatible with the property.

During the public hearing, Stone read a letter penned by a collective group of five homeowners on 11th and 12th street, mainly wanting to know what is allowed in a B-2 zone.

Physician and vet offices are permitted as well as a bakery, dry cleaner, a dress-making shop, gift shop, drug store, shoe repair, antique store or liquor stores, among other things.

“It’s not a high intensity use,” Babcock said.

Seven uses are to be excluded as described at the August preliminary hearing such as auto part sales; auto repair/minor; auto service station; bar/night club; billiard room/arcade; bowling alley; and video store.


Posted 9/18/2015




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