Chesterton Tribune

Sports complex developer warned he will need zoning approval

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Before Tony Czapla gets his financing in place, he should make sure his plans for a new $40 million indoor sports complex meet with the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission’s approval.

That was the message commission members sent loud and clear at Thursday’s meeting.

Czapla is a principal of Portage-based Persistence LLC, which wants to build the facility and a possible hotel and indoor water park on land south of the Indiana Toll Road and east of Indiana 49 near the terminus of North Calumet Avenue.

A redesign of that intersection including a new traffic signal had been proposed when a Walmart tentatively was planned for the site.

The land previously was approved by the town as a planned unit development or PUD for developer Robert Rossman, who committed to giving the town the opportunity for detailed review of any planned project, said commission member George Stone

Instead, he continued, Czapla has told reporters he is in detailed, complicated negotiations to find financing for the sports facility.

“While I understand money discussions are very important,” said Stone, “I hate to see the guy think he’s good to go without recognizing he has a whole review process with us. Before he has $40 million to spend, he might want to make a presentation to this body so if he has problems, it can be ironed out.”

Commission member Jeff Trout said, “I concur 100 percent.” Added member Sig Niepokoj, “We all agree, I think.”

Trout also sits on the Town Council. He said Chesterton officials working with Czapla strongly have urged his team to submit a site plan to the Plan Commission. “They certainly understand the proper steps include coming to the Plan Commission and they’ve been encouraged to do that.”

Trout said the existing PUD would need to be amended, but it has to be determined whether it is a minor or a major change so the appropriate process can be followed.

Typically it takes at least two months for PUD consideration before a recommendation is forwarded to the Town Council for final action. However, Czapla told the Chesterton Tribune that the revenue bonds Persistence LLC is attempting to secure under a federal recovery-zone stimulus program must be sold before midnight Dec. 31.

As of Thursday, Persistence LLC had commitments from six Indiana counties including Porter County to assign more than $23 million of their recovery-zone bonding allocation to the Chesterton sports complex, which would hope to attract local, regional and even national athletic competitions and tournaments.

Czapla also said his group has been actively in discussion with lenders about buying the bonds.


Posted 10/22/2010