Chesterton Tribune



Thomas Park boxcar restrooms clear Chesterton BZA hurdle

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The Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals approved three variances for Thomas Centennial Park boxcar restrooms at its meeting Thursday night.

The Town of Chesterton petitioned the Board to grant three variances to enable the construction of the boxcar restrooms planned for Thomas Centennial Park. Town Engineer Mark O’Dell spoke on behalf of the Park Board at Thursday’s public hearing on the variances.

The Town must secure variances through the same procedure citizens use--going before the BZA, notifying affected residents, and making a case at a public hearing. In February the Park Board voted to make O’Dell their official agent who appears before the BZA.

Before the hearing began, Board President Richard Riley recused himself from deliberations on the variances. He has been a main driver of the boxcar restroom idea. He handed the gavel to Vice-President Kim Parrilli-Goldak, who hosted the public hearing in his place. Associate Town Attorney Julie Paulson also recused herself from her position as BZA legal counsel, for the purpose of this meeting, because she normally represents the Park Board and the BZA. Attorney Greg Babcock presided in her place.

O’Dell said the Town requires three variances for the restrooms:

-One to have an accessory structure-- the boxcar restroom and the caboose warming/cooling station--two feet from a rear lot line when Town Code requires five feet of clearance. O’Dell said this variance is required because the ADA access ramp north of the boxcar/caboose would be within two feet of the rear lot line.

-One to locate an accessory structure 11 inches from a principal structure when Town Code requires 10 feet of clearance. O’Dell said the roof overhang of the old New York Central passenger depot, which is now the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, would come within 11 inches of the rear of the caboose.

-One to allow an accessory structure to be up to 20 feet in height when Town Code specifies that it should not exceed 16 feet. O’Dell said this variance is required because the roof that would cover the ADA access ramp behind the boxcar/caboose may be as tall as 20 feet.

Town Council member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, and resident Patricia Carlisle appeared in support of the variances. DeLaney noted the importance of putting a boxcar back where the railway used to be. “Bags used to come off of cars there. We’re putting cars back there. We’re honoring our heritage,” he said. He also said the current restroom situation at the park is unsustainable. “We have struggled, and we continue to struggle, with the porta potties. They do not have a place in our downtown.” No one spoke against the variances.

Parrilli-Goldak commented, “This was a long time coming to get something that would represent the town,” to which O’Dell responded it has been roughly 10 years. Parrilli-Goldak added, “I think it brands our town.”

Board member Fred Owens motioned to close the public hearing and approve the variances. Member James Kolwaski seconded. The Board approved the variances unanimously with Riley abstaining.



Posted 3/23/2018




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