Racing to break
ground this fall, developers of the proposed 110-unit assisted living center
called Residents of Coffee Creek said they would like to schedule a special
meeting of the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission, where all members can be
present, after a fractured Commission voted 3-2 on their plans.
The plans would
need to have garnered at least four out of seven votes in order to have a
favorable recommendation to the Chesterton Town Council.
The point of
contention centered on the size of a sign developers would like to put along
The Residents of
Coffee Creek, to be located at Sidewalk Rd. on the east side of Ind. 49,
will be operated by Westshore Senior Housing Consultants LLC, headquartered
in Northwest Indiana. Hired as architects are Phillip Panzica and Tom
Panzica of the Panzica Building Corporation in South Bend.
Serving as legal
representation is local attorney Terry Hiestand.
At the preliminary
hearing in June, the petitioners sought a variance for a roadside sign over
20 feet in height. Commission members requested the sign be greatly reduced.
said that the sign would be by roadway since they could not have a faŤade
sign, due to the facility not being a commercial building. They now propose
having the sign at Ind. 49 at 12 feet high.
Panzica showed the
Commission a video simulating what the sign would look like traveling north
on Ind. 49 at 50 miles per hour. At the height of six and one-half feet, the
maximum allowed under the Coffee Creek PUD, the words “Senior Living” would
not be legible 90 feet away, he said.
settled on 12 feet so the words could be seen from a safe distance, Phillip
Panzica said. Having it smaller would cause a greater risk for accidents, he
Planner Fred Owens
said the Culver’s near the Toll Road entrance at Coffee Creek was given a
variance to have an eight-foot sign, after much debate. He felt it was
appropriate since more people would be looking for Culver’s than those
trying to reach the Senior Center.
Tom Panzica said he
disagrees since people can recognize Culver’s or other fast food restaurants
strictly by architectural design and that the Residents of Coffee Creek is
will be a much larger building than Culver’s and therefore should have a
Town Attorney Chuck
Parkinson said it was not applicable to compare signage for the two
companies since Culver’s is a commercial property and Residents of Coffee
Creek would not be.
Owens and Planner
Thomas Kopko also said they had issues with two other variances that the
petitioner was proposing. One was to not be required to put sidewalks on
Sidewalk Rd. and the other was to have large temporary signs for the
construction in lieu of having a chain link fence erected.
The reason for no
sidewalks there, Phillip Panzica said, is because it would lead people to
Ind. 49 “with no place to go.”
Owens said he could
see some people who would want to have a sidewalk there like himself to
travel on them through Coffee Creek. Planner Jeff Trout last month said he
felt having sidewalks at Kelle Dr. and Voyage Point would be important.
Frank Jachim of
Westshore Senior Living said he would be willing to include in the variance
that the sidewalk on Sidewalk Rd. would be installed in a year’s time if
another development went in where a sidewalk connection would be needed.
George Stone said with the contentions about the sign, it may be advisable
to continue the case to next month.
On a motion by
Trout for a favorable recommendation, Kopko and Owens voted no. Stone, Trout
and planner Bob Poparad voted in favor.
Members absent from
the meeting that may have prompted a majority vote were Jeff Ton and Jim
Hiestand said his
clients would agree to install the sidewalks and scrap the construction
signs if the commission agreed to let them keep the sign at 12 feet. Kopko
said he still wouldn’t approve it Thursday, although Owens said he was
“two-thirds of the way there.”
Trout told the
petitioners, who were worried that delaying the plans and subsequent plats
would greatly impact their chances to start construction this year, that
they could pay for a special meeting.
Two possible dates
are Aug. 4 or Aug. 11, whichever can have the best turnout of commission
The plans were put
to a public hearing Thursday. The only one who spoke was Coffee Creek
Watershed Preserve Executive Director Katie Rizer said she favors the
project given the input of Town Engineer Mark O’Dell and MS4 Coordinator
Jennifer Gadzala that best management practices would be used for stormwater
on the property.
Jachim said the
three-story facility would hire about 100 new employees and 250 construction
jobs would be generated to complete the project in about 18 months. The
units would be 350 sq. ft. each, without kitchens, since meals would be
prepared for the residents by staff.
The assisted living
facility would complement health care organizations already in Chesterton,
Story Point plat
In other business,
the Commission voted 5-0 to approve both primary and secondary plats for the
18-acre site for StoryPoint Senior Living Center, situated north of Addison
Point Health and Rehab Center on Dickinson Rd.
The parcel is
currently owned by Porter Health which plans to turn ownership over to
StoryPoint. Construction is expected to take 18 months.