Chesterton Tribune



Special plan commission meeting sought for assisted living facility

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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 Ind. 49.

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.

Phillip Panzica 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.

The architects 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 said.

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 larger sign.

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.

Planner President 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 Kowalski.

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 members.

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, Jachim said.

Story Point plat approval

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.


Posted 7/22/2016





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